Chorionic Gonadotropin (Hcg)
Name: Chorionic Gonadotropin (Hcg)
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What Is HCG?
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a natural hormone that doctors prescribe as an injectable drug with the brand names Pregnyl and Novarel, and in a related form called Ovidrel.
HCG improves fertility by increasing sperm production in men and encouraging egg release in women.
It also helps treat sex hormone-linked conditions, such as undescended testes in young men and undeveloped sexual traits in girls.
Depending on its use, HCG is considered to be either an endocrine drug or a fertility drug. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved HCG in 1974.
HCG and Weight Loss
Although a prescription drug, HCG pills and liquid are sometimes purchased as a weight-loss supplement.
Since the FDA has not approved HCG for weight loss or over-the-counter (OTC) use, its sale is illegal, and any purported benefit of HCG in weight loss remains controversial.
The manufacturer of Pregnyl clearly states in its package insert that HCG has no proven benefit in weight loss, appetite decrease, or change in body-fat composition.
In 2011, the FDA updated the prescription labeling of HCG to include warnings for allergic reactions, some of which can be life-threatening.
Doctors don't consider HCG to be safe if you:
- Are pregnant
- Are allergic to HCG or any other ingredient found in the drug
- Are an "early bloomer," entering puberty sooner than normal
- Have prostate cancer or another cancer that is stimulated by male hormones, or androgens
Before taking HCG, tell your doctor if you:
- Have any allergies
- Have heart disease
- Have kidney disease
- Have an ovarian cyst
- Suffer from seizures
- Have migraines
- Have asthma
- Are in early puberty
Pregnancy and HCG
HCG causes birth defects. It should not be taken if you are pregnant.
Tell your doctor immediately if you become pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant.
Whether or not the hormone enters breast milk isn't known, so talk to your doctor before taking HCG if you are breastfeeding.
HCG Side Effects
Common Side effects of HCG
- Swelling in the feet, ankles, lowers legs, or hands
- Appearance of female breasts in men
- Pain in the area where you received the injection
Serious Side Effects of HCG
- Entering puberty sooner than normal
- Painful rupture or swelling of the ovaries
- Allergic reactions, including life-threatening ones
- Blood clots
- Multiple pregnancies (conceiving twins or triplets)
Tell your doctor all the medications you're taking.
This also includes prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins and other dietary supplements (nutritional shakes, protein powders, etc.), herbal remedies and any illegal and recreational drugs.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about HCG if you're taking any medications that affect your blood. This includes:
- Drugs for clotting disorders like coagulation factors IX and VIIa
- Drugs that increase red blood cell production like epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit), factor VIII concentrate (Humate-P ), and darbepoetin (Aransep )
- Cancer drugs affecting blood supply like bevacizumab (Avastin), lenalidomide (Revlimid), and thalidomide ( Thalidomid)
- tretinoin (Atralin, Avita, Renova, Retin-A )
HCG and Alcohol
Alcohol can cause birth defects, so if you're taking HCG in hopes of getting pregnant, avoid drinking alcohol during this time.
The dose of injectable HCG that your doctor prescribes depends on your sex and the condition being treated.
If you suspect an overdose, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately.
You can contact a poison control center at (800) 222-1222.
Missed Dose of HCG
If you've missed an injection or an appointment to receive your injection, call your doctor's office to reschedule as soon as possible.
If you're injecting the medication yourself, call your doctor and do not double the dose to make up for the mixed one.