HCG injections are sometimes prescribed to women having difficulty falling pregnant or during assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) like in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). However, taking HCG injections during pregnancy may have potential side effects.
What is HCG?
When a woman is pregnant, her placenta produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). It is a glycoprotein hormone with alpha and beta subunits.
The beta subunit is unique to hCG and is responsible for its biological activity. As a result of its function, the corpus luteum of the ovary is prevented from disintegrating, thereby maintaining progesterone production, which is crucial for a successful pregnancy.
It is first detectable in the blood and urine of pregnant women as early as 7-8 days post-conception. The levels of hCG increase rapidly in the first trimester and then gradually decline during the second and third trimesters.
HCG is used clinically for the treatment of infertility and for the detection of pregnancy; it is also used as a performance-enhancing drug in sports and bodybuilding.
Side Effects of Taking HCG Injections during Pregnancy
Risks of Ovarian Hyperstimulation
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is caused by HCG injections that cause the ovaries to become swollen and painful. This can lead to a number of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In rare cases, OHSS can be severe and even life-threatening.
HCG injections may increase the risk of having a multiple pregnancy, such as twins or triplets. This can lead to an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, including premature delivery and low birth weight.
HCG injections may also increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, which is a serious condition in which the fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.
HCG injections may cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, itching, a rash, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Common Pregnancy Symptoms Exaggerated
Pregnancy can bring about a plethora of physical and emotional changes, and many women experience common symptoms such as nausea, breast tenderness, and fatigue.
However, when these women undergo HCG injections as part of their treatment, the severity of these symptoms may be amplified, making the pregnancy experience even more challenging.
These HCG injections can cause the ovaries to become swollen and painful, a condition known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Additionally, HCG injections may increase the risk of having a multiple pregnancy, which can lead to an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, such as premature delivery and low birth weight.
It is important for women to be aware of these potential side effects and discuss them with doctor before undergoing HCG injections during pregnancy.
HCG injections: things to consider
- HCG injections should only be used under the supervision of a doctor and with a valid prescription.
- It is important to inform your healthcare provider of any other medications or supplements you are currently taking, as well as any pre-existing medical conditions or allergies you may have.
- HCG injections should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Women who are at risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) should use HCG injections with caution.
- Women who have a history of blood clots, heart disease, or stroke should also use HCG injections with caution.
- HCG injections may increase the risk of having multiple pregnancies, which can lead to an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
- HCG injections may cause allergic reactions or other side effects, such as headaches, fatigue, and mood changes.
- It is important to closely monitor your symptoms and report any unusual changes to your healthcare provider.
- Keep track of your ovulation and menstrual cycle and inform your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual changes.
HCG injections may be helpful for some women who are having difficulty getting pregnant or undergoing ART. However, these injections also have potential side effects that should be considered before starting treatment.
If a woman is considering taking HCG injections, she should speak with her doctor about the risks and benefits of this treatment.