Pregnancy Loss Symptoms and Diagnosis Dropping hCG Levels and Miscarriage By Krissi Danielsson Updated November 13, 2018 Pin Flip Email Print Ruth Jenkinson / Getty Images More in Pregnancy Loss Symptoms and Diagnosis Causes and Risk Factors Your Options Physical Recovery Coping & Moving Forward In the first trimester, levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, a pregnancy hormone commonly known as hCG, are supposed to increase over time in normal pregnancies. Usually, hCG levels are expected to double every two to three days in early pregnancy. hCG is made by placental cells that provide nourishment to the egg after it has been fertilized and attaches to the uterine wall. It is the same hormone that home pregnancy tests can detect in urine about 12 to 14 days after conception. Blood tests are more sensitive and can detect the hormone as early as 11 days after conception. In most healthy pregnancies, hCG levels, measured in milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/ml), will double about every 72 hours, which is why physicians will order two consecutive tests taken two to three days apart. hCG will reach its peak level in the first 8 to 11 weeks of a pregnancy, after which it will decline and level off for the rest of the pregnancy. Further into a pregnancy, when hCG levels are higher, it can take up to 96 hours for them to double. Normal hCG Levels hCG levels can vary dramatically, from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy. Generally, an hCG level less than 5 mIU/ml means a woman is not pregnant and anything above 25 mIU/ml indicates a pregnancy has occurred. While the below ranges give an idea of what is considered normal, the results of one hCG blood test mean very little. Rather, the change in the level between two consecutive tests done 2 to 3 days apart is much more telling of how a pregnancy may progress. Weeks From Last Menstrual Period hCG Level (in mIU/ml) 3 5 to 50 4 5 to 426 5 18 to 7,340 6 1,080 to 56,500 7-8 7,6590 to 229,000 9-12 25,700 to 288,000 13-16 13,300 to 254,000 17-24 4,060 to 165,400 25-40 3,640 to 117,000 What If Your hCG Levels Have Dropped? Women whose hCG level falls over a period of two to three days in the first trimester in two quantitative hCG blood tests are often advised that this means an impending miscarriage. This is especially true for women with other miscarriage symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. Decreasing hCG levels later in pregnancy, such as the second and third trimester, are probably not a cause for concern. Most doctors do not check serial quantitative hCG levels for purposes of evaluating the progress of a pregnancy after the first trimester, although single hCG levels might be checked as a part of the AFP prenatal screening test. hCG Levels After Miscarriage After a pregnancy loss has occurred, hCG levels will return to a nonpregnant range (less than 5 mIU/ml) between four and six weeks later. However, the time it takes for hCG levels to return to this range may depend on how the loss occurred, for example, whether by spontaneous miscarriage or dilation & curettage (D&C) as well as how high the levels were when the miscarriage occurred. It is typical for physicians to continue to test hCG levels after miscarriage until they return to the nonpregnant range. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you reach your 2018 goals. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources American Pregnancy Association, "Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): The Pregnancy Hormone." July 2007. Continue Reading Article Are Low hCG Levels in Early Pregnancy a Sign of Miscarriage? Article How Are hCG Levels Used to Diagnose Miscarriage? Article What Your hCG Levels Should Do Over the Course of Your Pregnancy Article Should I Worry About a High hCG Level in Pregnancy? Article If Your hCG Levels Aren't Doubling, Will You Miscarry? Article What Are the Normal hCG Doubling Times in Early Pregnancy? Article Diagnosing Ectopic (Tubal) Pregnancy With hCG Levels Article Can Supplementing Folic Acid Prevent Miscarriages? Article What Does a Positive Pregnancy Test After a Miscarriage Mean? List What Are the Signs of Miscarriage? Article How to Tell If You May Be Having a Miscarriage Article Why You Should Wait for Trying to Get Pregnant After a Miscarriage Article Sometimes Doctors Misdiagnose Pregnancies From Ultrasounds Article What Do Miscarriage Statistics Really Mean? Article How Doctors Diagnose Miscarriage Article When Can You Get Pregnant After a Miscarriage?