This is a blood test that measures the specific amount of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). Quantitative HCG measurements can allow precise prediction of the age of the fetus. It is also used when an abnormal condition that can elevate HCG level is suspected.
A pregnancy test is usually based on detection of HCG, which is secreted by the fertilized egg. HCG appears in the blood and urine of pregnant women as early as 10 days after conception. HCG maintains progesterone production by the corpus luteum in the early part of pregnancy.
By the time HCG levels drop at the beginning of the second trimester, the placenta can make sufficient progesterone to maintain the uterine lining (endometrium). However, HCG may also be elevated in abnormal circumstances in men as well as women.
No special preparation is necessary.
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