HCG is also known as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. It is one of the hormones that are released from the body of a pregnant lady. The hormone is produced by the cells of Placenta. The syncytiotrophoblast cells of placenta produce this hormone.
Before getting to know the HCG injections we must know a few things about HCG hormone also:
- HCG hormone has two subunits namely alpha subunit and the beta unit subunit.
- The subunit alpha is almost identical to the LH (Luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone).
- The Beta subunit of HCG does not resemble any other hormone and is found only in HCG.
- The main function of HCG is to maintain pregnancy by preventing the shedding of the endometrial layer of uterus.
- The placenta produces an HCG hormone to assist progesterone in maintaining the endometrium layer as well as maintains the corpus luteum in the ovary.
- HCG is needed only in the first trimester of pregnancy, after which placenta is mature enough to secrete enough progesterone.
HCG is a hormone medication available in the form of injections. These hormones are derived from the powder taken from pregnant woman’s urine. The pregnant woman’s urine is dissolved in the sterile water and it is then injected into the muscle. The HCG injection is given in combination with fertility drugs to trigger the ovulation. The ovulation starts within 36-40 hours of injection. It is generally given in the intrauterine insemination phases or the egg can be harvested and used for IVF. HCG injections are however not useful in case the ovaries are not able to produce viable ova.
Use of HCG Injections in Males:
In males, Testosterone is the main male sexual hormone. It is produced by Leydig cells in the testes. The cells are stimulated by LH or luteinizing hormone. The testosterone is also responsible for various other things such as:
- Secondary sexual traits
- Sperm development, etc.
In many cases, the testosterone has not produced enough or in case the tests are not descended properly. In such cases, the HCG injections are given to stimulate testosterone production. Testosterone also helps in cases where testes have not descended.
HCG injections have been in use for many decades for several purposes including the reasons mentioned above.
HCG Injections and False Pregnancy Results:
You should avoid taking a home pregnancy test as soon as you are injected with the HCG shots as they tend to remain in the blood for a few days and can be found in urine too, giving a false positive urine test for pregnancy. So, the doctors recommend taking the pregnancy urine test only after at least 2 weeks, so that you can get a doubt free result.
Side Effects of HCG Hormone:
Before using HCG hormone, you must be first aware of the side effects of HCG. The increase in the hormone levels, such as progesterone/ testosterone can be a very emotionally difficult situation for both female and her partner. The condition of the patient can vary depending upon the side effects include:
- An upset stomach
- An allergic reaction
- Headaches/ body pains
- Fever/ rise in temperature
- Joint pain
- Soreness at the site of injection
HCG and OHSS:
Apart from these mild experiences the females can often suffer from a condition called OHSS. The females may develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). It is one of the most common side effects after the HCG injections. This condition is known to cause the ovaries to swell. The size becomes much larger than the normal size. This leads to fluid leakage into the abdominal cavity.
There are a few common symptoms of OHSS, these symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid enlargement of the abdominal area
- Excessive thirst
- Signs of dehydration
In about one-third of all IVF cycles, women generally experience mild OHSS as an issue.
Other Side Effects and Fears of Using HCG for Infertility Treatment:
An HCG injection given to induce ovulation may result in multiple pregnancy. The multiple pregnancies, have their own associated complications.
Therefore, it is very necessary that you always talk to your doctor about the expected risks before you take the HCG shots. Then you must keep in mind that your health and well-being must be your top priority. Although these injections have made it possible for millions of women to get pregnant safely, still you must always ensure that you are visiting an experienced doctor at a reputable fertility clinic. This will help you remain satisfied about the well being of your own as well as delivering a healthy birth.