HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a drug given to mature eggs from artificially stimulated ovaries during assisted reproductive technology, or ART procedures. HCG is usually given 34 to 36 hours before egg retrieval, since release usually occurs naturally 36-plus hours after administration, the University of Maryland Medical Center explains. HCG can be given as a recombinant, or laboratory-made drug, or in an injection derived from the urine of pregnant women. HCG in either form can have side effects.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Common Side Effects
Some side effects of HCG are mild and common. While these symptoms are usually short-lived, worsening symptoms should be reported to your doctor, as they could be early signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome 1. Soreness at the injection site may occur; redness or swelling should be reported to your doctor.
Symptoms of Pregnancy If HCG Injection Is Taken
As with any drug, allergic reactions can occur to the proteins in HCG. These include rashes, hives, swelling, shortness of breath, lightheadness or collapse. Report any potential signs of allergy to your doctor immediately.
The most serious side effect of HCG when given to induce egg release in fertility procedures is the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, or OHSS 1. Ovarian hyperstimulation occurs when large number of follicles are matured after HCG is given. Some fertility clinics will not give HCG in an ART cycle if the estradiol level is over a certain number, to prevent OHSS from developing. Others will not transfer embryos if OHSS is present, because pregnancy will drive hormone levels even higher.
Side effects of mild OHSS include mild swelling, abdominal discomfort and weight gain. Fluid may accumulate in the lungs, making breathing difficult. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may deplete already dry blood volume. OHSS can be fatal in rare cases, the U.S. National Library of Medicine states.
- The most serious side effect of HCG when given to induce egg release in fertility procedures is the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, or OHSS 1.
- Some fertility clinics will not give HCG in an ART cycle if the estradiol level is over a certain number, to prevent OHSS from developing.
Symptoms of Pregnancy If HCG Injection Is Taken
Hormones to Help Get Pregnant
How to Raise Testosterone Levels With HCG
Side Effects of HCG Drops
Normal Levels of HCG & Progesterone
Side Effects of HCG Injections for Infertility
Side Effects of Missing Your Contraceptive Injection
Can Low Progesterone Keep the HCG Levels From Rising?
The Dangers of the HCG Diet & Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome
Why Do Athletes Use HCG?
- Medline Plus: U.S. Library of Medicine; Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome
- Harvard Medical School: Ovarian Hyperstimlation: S. Monica Sori, Gillian Lieberman, MD
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A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.