Beta HCG Test

Last updated: 24 November 2017

What is beta HCG test?

Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy, and is typically detected in the blood. A beta HCG test is a blood test used to diagnose pregnancy, and usually becomes positive around the time of the first missed period.

How is a beta HCG test performed?

Beta HCG (BHCG) test requires a small tube of blood, taken from a vein by your doctor.

Why would you need to get a beta HCG test?

Beta HCG (BHCG or blood pregnancy test) may be performed by your doctor if they suspect that you may be pregnant, or if you suspect pregnancy yourself! Usual pregnancy symptoms include a missed or late period (amenorrhea), breast fullness or tenderness, or nausea and vomiting (morning sickness).

The test is often routinely performed in women of childbearing age with abdominal pain, and those who require an Abdominal X-Ray or Pelvic X-Ray, because of concerns or radiation to an unborn baby.

In some situations a quantitative beta HCG may be useful. This measures the amount of this hormone in the blood. Under normal circumstances, this level doubles approximately every 2 days, in the first trimester.

Test results explained

Qualitative beta HCG:

  • A POSITIVE beta HCG means that the woman IS pregnant
  • A NEGATIVE beta HCG means that the woman is NOT pregnant

Quantitative beta HCG:

  • The result is given as a number, indicating the measured concentration of the hormone in the blood
  • The fetus is usually visible on a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan when the level is above 1500 units
  • When the level is above 4000 units, the fetus is also usually visible on a transabdominal ultrasound scan
  • The beta HCG level usually doubles approximately every 2 days

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Related procedures

  • Blood test (venesection)

Related tests

Also known as

  • Blood pregnancy test
  • Serum HCG
  • Qualitative Beta HCG
  • Quantitative Beta-HCG (“Quant”)

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.