What is HCG?
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone that supports the normal development of an egg in a woman’s ovary, and stimulates the release of the egg during ovulation.
HCG is used to cause ovulation and to treat infertility in women, and to increase sperm count in men. HCG is also used in young boys when their testicles have not dropped down into the scrotum normally. This can be caused by a pituitary gland disorder.
HCG may also be used for other purposes not listed.
HCG is given as an injection under the skin or into a muscle. If you use HCG at home, your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will give you specific instructions on how and where to inject this medicine. Do not self-inject HCG if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.
HCG can place you at higher risk for a blood clot. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these signs of a blood clot: pain, warmth, redness, numbness, or tingling in your arm or leg; confusion, extreme dizziness, or severe headache.
Some women using this medicine have developed a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), especially after the first treatment cycle. OHSS can be a life-threatening condition. Call your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of OHSS: severe pelvic pain, swelling of the hands or legs, stomach pain and swelling, shortness of breath, weight gain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, or if you are urinating less than normal.
HCG can cause early puberty in young boys. Call your doctor if a boy using this medicine shows early signs of puberty, such as a deepened voice, pubic hair growth, and increased acne or sweating.
Using HCG can increase your chances of having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc). A multiple pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy for the mother and for the babies. Follow your doctor’s instructions about any special care you may need during your pregnancy.
Although HCG can help you become pregnant, it should not be used during pregnancy. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment.
HCG has no known effect on appetite, hunger, fat loss, or fat distribution. It is not approved by the FDA as a weight loss medication or for the treatment of obesity.
Before using HCG
You should not use this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to HCG, or if you have:
- early puberty (also called precocious puberty);
- a hormone-related cancer (such as prostate cancer);
- cancer or a tumor of the breast, ovary, or uterus;
- certain types of ovarian cysts;
- uncontrolled thyroid or adrenal dysfunction;
- a cancer or tumor of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland in the brain;
- vaginal bleeding without a known cause; or
- if you are currently pregnant.
Before receiving HCG tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs or if you have:
- a thyroid or adrenal gland disorder;
- an ovarian cyst;
- unexplained vaginal bleeding;
- heart disease;
- kidney disease;
- migraines; or
If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use HCG.
Although HCG can help you become pregnant, you should not use HCG if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether HCG passes into breast milk. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby before using HCG.
How should I use HCG?
Use HCG exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use it in larger amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
HCG is given as an injection under the skin or into a muscle. Your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider will give you this injection. You may be shown how to inject your medicine at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.
Use each disposable needle only one time. Throw away used needles in a puncture-proof container (ask your pharmacist where you can get one and how to dispose of it). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.
To be sure HCG is helping your condition, your doctor will need to check you on a regular basis. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.
Some brands of HCG come in powder form with a separate liquid that you must mix together and draw into a syringe. Other brands are provided in single-dose prefilled syringes.
Do not use the medication if it has changed colors or the liquid has any particles in it. Call your doctor for a new prescription. Store unmixed HCG at room temperature away from light, moisture, and heat. After mixing the HCG, you must keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready for your injection. Throw away any mixed medicine that you have not used within 30 days after mixing.
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)