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First Trimester

Q&A: What Are Beta Levels?

What are beta levels and why might my doctor measure them?

Well, let’s start at the beginning. When baby first starts growing in your belly (akauterus), your body begins to produce a hormone called hCG, or humanchorionic gonadotropin. You might hear this hCG stuff referred to as the “pregnancy hormone” — it’s the same hormone that a pregnancy test searches for in your urine. It takes a few days(around 11 to 14) after conception for enough hCG to show up in your pee, but whenit does…congrats! You’re definitely pregnant.

When the doc measures your “beta hCG” levels, it means she’s checking to see just how much hCG is running through your blood. Any hCG level above 25mIU/ml is considered positive for pregnancy, but your doc may check your beta hCG levelsfor other reasons, like to determine if your pregnancy is progressing the way it should. (In about 85% of normal pregnancies, hCG levels double every 48 to 72 hours until they drop down and level off after around 8 to 11 weeks.)

By Erin Walters