HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin. It is a glycoprotein, which means that it is is a protein that has been modified by the addition of carbohydrates. Human chorionic gonadotropin is normally produced by the developing embryo and by the placenta, which is the membrane that helps nourish and support an egg once it has been fertilized. It also can have effects on the ovaries and, according to drugs.com, can work to induce ovulation. Human chorionic gonadotropin is commonly measured with pregnancy tests, which can detect it in the blood and urine.
Although human chorionic gonadotropin injections affect the body's naturally occurring hormones, they do not cause cancer. According to Drugs.com, human chorionic gonadotropin can be injected for various reasons. Most commonly a HCG injection will be given as part of a woman's fertility treatment.. HCG will not only help induce ovulation but it will help maintain the corpus luteum, which produces the hormone progesterone. In adult males, an HCG injection will increase sperm count. Human chorionic gonadotropin injections are also used to treat boys whose testicles have not descended normally into the scrotum.
An HCG injection can aggravate pre-existing ovarian cancer. As a result, it is important to let your physician know if you have had ovarian cancer before you receive an injection of HCG. Another dangerous side effect of HCG injections in women is a condition known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This can cause severe pain in the pelvis, swelling of the feet and hands, pain and swelling in the abdomen, and shortness of breath. It can also cause weight gain, nausea and diarrhea.