"Low" HCG?

Updated on April 19, 2009
J.L. asks from Seattle, WA
12 answers

Hi Ladies,

I'm currently pregnant with #2 (yay!!!!), but my doctor says that my HCG is low. A little background: My last period started on 3/16 and we actively tried for the month. 5 days before my expected period, I tested and got 2 positives with a cheap Bartell's generic test. I then bought a box of First Response and they all came up positive, although very faint and at 10 minutes, not 3. The day after my expected period, I tested in the morning and got a BFN. Next morning, went to the doc and requested a blood test. Results today show that I am pregnant and my HCG is at 31. The person I spoke with (not the doc) told me that the level puts me at 3 weeks, not four.

I'm going in again on Friday for a second blood test to see if my HCG is rising appropriately. I don't have any signs of an impending miscarriage. Something tells me that everything is going to be fine, but it could be wishful thinking.

My questions: Anyone else have a roller coaster of test results and everything turn out okay? I would love to hear about your experiences.
Also, I don't think they can date a pregnancy based on HCG levels, given there is such a huge range thats "normal". Do you all agree?


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So What Happened?

I don't have the results from my 2nd blood test taken on Friday, but over the weekend I started bleeding and cramping. I'm going to the doctor today so that they can see if I'm miscarrying. I'll also get the results from my blood test, which I expect will show either a slow increase or a decline. I'm not hopeful at this point.

Thanks everyone for your encouraging responses! I don't think it was our time, unfortunately.

More Answers



answers from Seattle on

I've been on both sides of how this can turn out. There's really nothing that a single HCG level can tell you other than if you are pregnant or not. It's the second blood draw that will tell you if the pregnancy is progressing normally or if it could be in jeopardy. The level should at least double every 2 or 3 days. So your level should be at least 60 when they draw on Friday. Those are the facts I know from experience, but here's the short version of my experience:

Pregnancy 1: Diagnosed as pregnant at my doctors with a pee test. Didn't do a blood draw at all. Found a new doctor when I started bleeding a month later. Hcg levels continued to rise over the next month (while I was still bleeding lightly), but they weren't increasing at the rate they should have been. Levels stayed within the normal range, just always on the very low end. Ultrasound confirmed that the pregnancy wasn't viable but that my body was not miscarrying completely. Had to have a shot of a chemo drug to assist my body with the miscarriage, but was able to avoid a D&C.

Pregnancy 2: Pregnancy confirmed with pee and hcg tests after some very light implantation bleeding. Both positive. Hcg taken again 2 days later, and had more than doubled. Beautiful 22 month old daughter to show for it!

Pregnancy 3: Had mid-cycle bleeding so took a home test "just to check" before seeing my doctor later that day. Home test was positive, hcg was 400+ and pregnancy dated to be 6 weeks even though I'd had a normal period 2 weeks prior. Hcg 2 days later was 3. Pregnancy miscarried.

Pregnancy 4: Didn't bother with a home test, just went to the doctor for hcg test since I'd had a tiny bit of spotting 2 days prior. Level was 18. Doctor was not optimistic because the level was so low, but I knew that the blood was being drawn on the day I was scheduled to start my period so I wasn't worried. I forget the numbers for the next blood draw, but they had approximately tripled in the time they needed to double. I started taking Prometrium to help my uterine lining be a healthy environment for a fetus and am now about 24 weeks pregnant with a healthy developing baby.

Good luck with the pregnancy, and please e-mail me if I can be any more help, support, or encouragement!



answers from Anchorage on

With my first this happened. I got a positive with a home prego test...went to the doctor even my blood tests came back negative...went back again a week later..and doctor did an ultrasound..and of course..I was. BUT, I never passed a doctors pregnancy test! I had four ultra sounds with her and I got my period every month four seven months while I was pregnant. She was a couple of weeks early, but was fine in size. My second and third didn't do that, they were fairly normal pregnancies. I did go into preterm labor with my first too..and they tried so many medicines to make it stop I finally said "enough is enough" as the side effects were making it so I couldn't even hold a spoon. We're all a little different so, my guess is your HCG will go up eventually..and that yes, there is a huge range that is normal.



answers from Eugene on

Congrats! Your fine! Don't go borrowing trouble because your baby is there and sticking! Your HCG levels will rise as your body creates the necessary hormones to house your little angel. take a deep breath and relax!



answers from Portland on

hi J.,

LIke you and some of the other responders, I'm currently in a similar situation. I tested at days 34 and 36 of my cycle because I had no period, and got negative results. On day 40 I took an EPT early detect and got a positive. I went to Kaiser the next morning and they got a negative. I asked for a blood test and they got an hcg level of 84. OB ordered another blood test 2 days later and got 240, and another two days later and we got 640 or so. Basically your levels double every 2 - 3 days in the first trimester, is what I've heard. So I back-calculated and I got pregnant around day 30. I'm a little freaked out at the quality of the lining (I've heard theories about degraded lining quality), but I posted a question on here and several mamas had normal pregnancies when they conceived late in their cycle. My OB has me scheduled for an ultrasound in 10 days. They'll be able to get a date better. I'm guessing that when they say 3 weeks or 4 weeks, they're calculating from the start of your last cycle, not the conception date. If your insurance allows for it, you may want to get an early ultrasound so they can get a better date. I'll feel a lot better after that, or I guess even more so after 12 weeks.

I also got several mamas telling me that progesterone supplements were needed in their pregnancies due to low levels (which is what controls the hcg, I believe). I asked my DR. about progesterone cream, and she was neutral, so I'm using that every day. Some doctors won't monitor progesterone levels because they say there's a wide range of normal, but the women I've heard from say it saved their pregnancies.

Best wishes for a happy healthy pregnancy!



answers from Portland on

Hi J.,
I know you have a lot of responses but I figure one more response from someone in your situation might help you feel better. I had the same thing. I was still nursing my daughter but had my period back for 4 months fairly regularly. So when I missed it (we were also trying to get pregnant) I thought Ok this is it...then 3 negative tests..but no period. Finally after a week I took a cheap generic one and it barely showed positive, called the dr and went to lab for blood test. I think my HCG was like 34 very low, they said I was barely pregnant. So 2 days later , number doubled and I think I was in the 80 range...they changed my due date to match the baby's measurement on the ultrasound to 2 weeks after what I thought. I am still totally confused how I could have conceived 2 weeks after what they are saying, especially since I "know" my circumstances. But baby is healthy, measuring for their due date of 6/26 and never had a problem. Good luck and I hope you get good news:)



answers from Bellingham on

Hello J.. I am in a very similar situation to you. My husband and I tried from October until February and are finally pregnant with our second baby. When my period was four days late, I took two pregnancy tests that came out negative. The next day I got a very faint positive, just like you, after ten or fifteen minutes. I waited a few days and then went to see a nurse, who confirmed my pregnancy was at weeks 5 by dates, not by HcG levels. I think that really early pregnancy can be hard to pinpoint, and that next week when you go back in, your levels will probably be fine. It is such a tumultuous and nerve wracking time because it is so early, but I'm with you, I think everything is going to be fine. Good Luck!




answers from Seattle on

Most likely you ovulate later than you think and conceived later in your menstrual cycle. Catching a pregnancy early can result in low HCG levels because your body hasn't had enough time to get those levels up for a distinct POSITIVE test. My doctor told me to wait at least a week after my missed period to take my test for that very reason. You're just anxious and want to know for sure if you can be excited or not, but the best advice I can give is sit back and relax and I hope you get the news you've been waiting for at your appointment. Best of luck!



answers from Richland on

Hi J.. If your last period was on 3/16 then 3 weeks sounds right on. Measuring HCG levels would actually give you a more accurate date. Since you probably didn't concieve while on your period. I am 38 years old and 14 weeks along with my 3rd child. I got 4 negative tests before getting a positive one , by then I was 10 days late !
I did the due date calculators and came up with being 8 weeks along . When I went to the Dr. they did a sonogram since they couldn't hear a heartbeat yet and I was only 6 weeks. Which means I would have concieved a day before my period was set to start. I guess I ovulated late that month which is very strange for me because I am always right on schedule ! So take a deep breath and relax , I bet you are right on track and pregnant with a wonderful, healthy ,precious baby !



answers from Seattle on

I had the exact thing happen to me with my dd, who is now a happy and healthy 5 year old! I had been ttc for nearly 4 years. The day that I was supposed to start giving myself the shots for an IUI I decided to take a pg test. After about 11 minutes or so it was the faintest possible positive line. I didn't believe it so I went into the ER (it was a friday evening-as usual, after the dr's were closed!) and they tested my HCG and one idiot told me that I was miscarrying, my levels were quite low (I think mine showed at 34 the first test)! He was beyond wrong and spoke out of turn because I never miscarried. I had just caught my pregnancy so much earlier than many other mother's do-except for those of us who spend months or years ttc. My numbers steadily went up over the following 3 or 4 weeks that the idiot dr was checking my numbers at my demand-not his request. It does happen...

Think positive...here's to a sticky baby!!!



answers from Portland on

I have been keeping my fingers crossed for you. Let us know what happens!



answers from Spokane on

Hi J.,

Boy-that sounds exactly like my story! I am pregnant with #3 and that's just how we started out. We lost twin boys at 20 weeks in Oct. 2007, so right away I was a nervous wreck. My hcg levels were low the whole time and I think I had like 8 blood tests to measure the hormone. I had 6 ultrasounds to even confirm the presence of a pregnancy, and it's just been one thing after another. Any way, I am halfway through my 6th month, and I"m just as nervous as I was in the beginning. The only consolation I have is the fact that my son, if born now, would have a decent shot at survival. Not that I want him to come yet...it's just that with the twins they were too early and had no chance to survive. Well, I jhope this helps. Just try not to worry. Everything will turn out just as it's supposed to.




answers from Seattle on

If you would like to obsess -- here is a website for you.


Hope all turns out well.


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