Understanding the beta hCG test

Pregnancy hormone test - a clear guide
The beta hCG test is one of the most requested tests at the Harley Street Health Centre. This is a quick and easy guide to understanding the beta hCG test when you should have the test and what the results could mean.

The beta hCG test is used to check both the presence and progress of your early pregnancy.

Also known as the “pregnancy hormone”, beta hCG is produced by cells in the placenta. This is a quick and easy guide to understanding when to have the test and what the results could mean.

When should I have a beta hCG test?

If you suspect you may be pregnant or are undergoing fertility treatment and have been asked to test after a certain period of time, this blood test will detect levels of beta hCG from around 10 – 11 days after conception.

Can a beta hCG test tell me how far along I am?

pregnant woman holding stomach, highlighting baby growthThe answer is yes and no. In normal or typical circumstances, we would expect your beta hCG levels to double every 72 hours in early pregnancy, up until 8 – 11 weeks. It will then come down again and stay pretty much level for the rest of your pregnancy. So, if you want to know how far along you are, an ultrasound is the most accurate way of knowing. However, a beta hCG test is a helpful indicator in early pregnancy, and you will likely test several times at the early stages in agreement with your doctor.

So does a low level mean my pregnancy isn’t healthy?

You cannot draw this conclusion from a beta hCG test alone. Some pregnancies show a low level and still result in a healthy baby. An ultrasound is the best way to know if your pregnancy is progressing well.

So why have a beta hCG test?

Female doctor handing Beta hCG results to young woman
A beta hCG test is the definitive “yes or no” test in early pregnancy and is often your next point of call after a positive over-the-counter pregnancy urine test. Our test is also quantitative, which means it gives you a beta hCG level, confirming your pregnancy.

How often should I check my beta hCG level?

It’s pretty common to check your beta hCG level routinely through early pregnancy. It may also be rechecked throughout your pregnancy if you’re experiencing certain symptoms or have a history of miscarriage. It’s also a common test to continue to repeat through a pregnancy conceived via IVF or other fertility measures.

So if I test positive, I am definitely pregnant?

With a beta hCG quantitative blood test, a “false positive” is highly unlikely, but a retest would give a definitive answer if you are concerned. Some fertility-related medications can affect results and a few rare conditions, but in general, this is an accurate and definitive test.

What do I do when I find out I am pregnant?

If you intend on keeping your pregnancy, you have two options. If you are planning on having your baby on the NHS, take your result to your NHS GP, who will help you begin your journey. If you plan to support your pregnancy privately, we can help you with a referral to a private Consultant Obstetrician. We recommend the Portland Hospital for Women and Children for excellent care.

If you are not planning on keeping your pregnancy, we recommend Marie Stopes centres for expert support.

How do I make an appointment?

You can book your beta hCG test using our online booking engine or call us.

Leave a Comment

  • Sarah Wright says:

    I benefited massively from my hCG Beta test. Had I not had an hCG test, I wouldn’t have known that I was actually pregnant and that my miscarriage was a real thing and not just in my head – it also gave me specific data that I was able to take back to my normal GP, so they could see I was struggling. I’ve also used them to confirm a single pregnancy before, because they were certain my baby was more than one (it wasn’t! Just huge lol). These are so simple and so quick.

    On a side note, thanks for supporting a woman’s right to choose, but helping direct them to Marie Stopes if necessary.

    • Alya Shakir says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, Sarah, we really appreciate it. We will always support a woman’s right to choose. Thank you for your kind feedback.

  • Sophia Rogers says:

    I had my beta hCG level checked multiple times during my pregnancy as I had a history of miscarriage. It gave me peace of mind knowing that my pregnancy was progressing well.

  • Jessica says:

    As someone who has experienced a miscarriage, the beta hCG test has become a critical part of monitoring my current pregnancy. This blog post illustrates the importance of this test in ensuring the health of the developing fetus and providing additional reassurance throughout the pregnancy. I found the section on interpreting the test results particularly helpful, as it provided me with a better understanding of what my physician is looking for and how the results can inform future medical decisions. I would recommend this resource to anyone who has experienced a miscarriage or is looking for information on the beta hCG test during pregnancy – thank you for such an informative resource.