For women who have a risk of miscarriage due to hormonal issues, doctors might prescribe certain medications that mimic the actions of naturally occurring hormones.
One such treatment option is the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) injection. In this MomJunction post, tell you why an HCG injection is given during pregnancy, how it works, and the possible side effects it could have.
What Is A Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Injection?
The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is a natural hormone produced by the placenta. It supports the corpus luteum after fertilization of the ovum and also helps sustain the production of progesterone throughout the pregnancy (1).
This hormone supplement comes in the form of an injection that is given into a muscle under the skin. The FDA approves the HCG injection for treating selective cases of female infertility (2).
Why Are HCG Injections Given During Pregnancy?
HCG injections are given in some instances of recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), which could be due to the unsuccessful implantation of the embryo to the uterine wall. In some women, the fetal placental unit may secrete inadequate HCG hormone, which may result in insufficient progesterone production and, ultimately, embryo death. Thus, by administering HCG supplementation, the pregnancy could be sustained (3) (4).
How Does The Human Gonadotropin Injection Work Before And During Pregnancy?
Before pregnancy, the HCG hormone stimulates the production of gonadal steroid hormones by stimulating the corpus luteum of the ovary to produce progesterone (5). Also, as the HCG is identical to the pituitary luteinizing hormone (LH), the HCG supplements could be a substitute to the LH hormone in triggering ovulation, as well as development and maturation of the ovarian follicle.
During a healthy pregnancy, the HCG secreted by the placenta helps in maintaining the corpus luteum and supports the production of estrogen and progesterone, which prevent menstruation. So, the supplements mimic these reactions.
Is HCG Injection Safe During Pregnancy?
The HCG injection could help in sustaining the pregnancy in a few cases, but it does not mean it that anyone can use it.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified these HCG injections under ‘pregnancy category C,’ which means animal studies have shown adverse effects on the fetus, and there are no controlled studies in humans.
Your doctor might prescribe the HCG injection when its benefits outweigh the risks. Usually, this injection is given to women with fertility issues to support the early phases of pregnancy. So, it is best to consult your doctor and follow their advice.
Can An HCG Injection Prevent Miscarriage?
There can be various reasons for miscarriage during pregnancy, ranging from genetic disorders to lifestyle factors. While the HCG injections can help during ovulation and implantation, there are no well-controlled studies to say that they can prevent miscarriage (6). Also, HCG therapy comes with a set of side effects that can be problematic for the pregnancy.
So, talk to your doctor about the possible risks before trying HCG therapy.
What Are The Likely Side Effects Of HCG Injections During pregnancy?
Here are a few possible side effects of HCG injections during pregnancy (7).
Allergic reaction: Some pregnant women could be allergic to gonadotropins. Visit your doctor if you experience the following symptoms of an allergic reaction after taking the supplement.
- Difficulty in breathing
- Swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Pain, warmth or tingling sensation in the arm or leg
- Severe headache
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): A few women may develop this condition after the first treatment cycle. The condition could be severe and would need a doctor’s attention if you experience these symptoms:
- Severe pelvic pain
- Swelling of hands and legs
- Stomach pain and swelling
- Weight gain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Less urine output
- Shortness of breath
It is best to seek professional advice to understand the reason for your fertility issues and if HCG therapy would work for you. Also, ask your doctor about other alternatives available to you.
Did you take HCG shots during pregnancy? Do share your experiences with us in the comments section below.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for a doctor’s consultation. Do not use any medication without talking to your doctor.
2. Questions and Answers on HCG Products for Weight Loss; US Food and Drug Administration
3. Elisabeth Clare Larsen, et. al.; New insights into mechanisms behind miscarriage; NCBI(2013)
4. Chelsea Fox, et.al.; Luteal phase HCG support for unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss – a low hanging fruit?; Reproductive Biomedicine Online Journal
5. Chorionic Gonadotropin for Injection, USP; US Food and Drug Administration
6. N.S. Qureshi, et.al.; First trimester threatened miscarriage treatment with human chorionic gonadotrophins: a randomised controlled trial; BJOB An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
7. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) (injectable); C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital; Michigan Medicine
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