Side effects of hcg

Contents

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)

Generic Name: human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) (injectable) (HYOO man cor ee ON ik go NAD o TRO pin)
Brand Names: Ovidrel, Pregnyl

Medically reviewed by Kaci Durbin, MD Last updated on Apr 29, 2019.

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Dosage
  • Interactions
  • Pregnancy
  • Reviews
  • More

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.

Important information

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;

  • epilepsy;

  • migraines; or

  • asthma.

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.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss a dose of HCG.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of HCG is not expected to produce life-threatening symptoms.

What should I avoid?

Follow your doctor’s instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while you are using HCG.

HCG side effects

Stop using HCG and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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 of the following 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

  • 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.

Less serious side effects fomr HCG may include:

  • headache;

  • feeling restless or irritable;

  • mild swelling or water weight gain;

  • depression;

  • feeling tired;

  • breast tenderness or swelling; or

  • pain, swelling, or irritation where the injection is given.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect HCG?

There may be other drugs that can interact with HCG. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use HCG only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2020 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.01.

Medical Disclaimer

More about HCG (chorionic gonadotropin (hcg))

  • Side Effects
  • During Pregnancy
  • Dosage Information
  • Drug Interactions
  • 12 Reviews
  • Drug class: gonadotropins
  • FDA Alerts (3)

Consumer resources

Other brands: Pregnyl, Ovidrel, Novarel, Profasi, Chorex

Professional resources

  • Gonadotropin, Chorionic (AHFS Monograph)
  • … +1 more

Related treatment guides

  • Hypogonadism, Male
  • Obesity
  • Female Infertility
  • Ovulation Induction
  • Prepubertal Cryptorchidism

Pregnyl

Stop using HCG and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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 of the following 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
  • urinating less than normal.

This medication 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.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • headache;
  • feeling restless or irritable;
  • mild swelling or water weight gain;
  • depression;
  • breast tenderness or swelling; or
  • pain, swelling, or irritation where the injection is given.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Pregnyl (Chorionic Gonadotropin for Injection)

Shoot up, slim down: That’s the premise behind HCG injections, hormone-containing syringes that stick dieters to help them lose weight—and they’re becoming increasingly popular.

Proponents claim regular injection of human chorionic gonadotropin—a hormone that women produce during pregnancy and that is sometimes prescribed as a fertility treatment—speeds metabolism and breaks down the body’s stored fat, allowing dieters to get by on 500 calories a day without the hunger and health risks that accompany other starvation diets.

RELATED: Q&A;: Will Not Eating ENOUGH Calories Mess with Weight Loss?

False. Being on the HCG diet—just like any seriously low-cal diet—lowers your metabolism and results in serious muscle loss, says Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., senior science advisor at Elements Behavioral Health and author of The Hunger Fix. And while starving yourself for a week may yield short-term weight loss, over the long haul, you are more likely to gain weight from trying the HCG diet than anything.

The Food and Drug Administration states that HCG does not aid in weight loss, and a 1995 meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (yes, this is the fad diet that just keeps coming back!) concluded that “there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity; it does not bring about weight loss or fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being.” Researchers believe that when dieters do happen to lose weight on the HCG diet, it’s most likely from a combination of calorie restriction and placebo effect.

RELATED: 8 Weight-Loss Tricks You Should NEVER Try

Whether HCG makes you lose or gain weight is one thing, but more concerning is what else it could do to your body. HCG is a hormone, and once you start manipulating your body’s delicate hormonal balance, wide-ranging effects can occur, says Peeke. “HCG injections have been associated with headaches, blood clots, leg cramps, temporary hair thinning, constipation, and breast tenderness.” The FDA has received at least one recent report of an HCG dieter developing a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal blood clot in the lung.

Think that’s bad? There’s more. When you get an HCG shot from anyone other than a licensed physician, you don’t know what you’re really being injected with. The FDA does not approve over-the-counter use of HCG, meaning that the ingredients are not regulated—and any shots or serums sold online are offered illegally. The FDA does allow physicians to administer HCG injections for off-label uses, but giving it to a patient definitely enters into an ethically murky area as FDA labeling for approved HCG products requires the following statement:

“HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

The bottom line: “Avoid falling for a fad, especially one that is expensive and fraught with side effects and serious health risks,” says Peeke. Our suggestion? Stick with these science-backed ways to lose weight.

RELATED: 8 Surprising Ways You’re Slowing Your Metabolism

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, HCG injection

What is this medicine?

HUMAN CHORIONIC GONADOTROPIN (HYOO muhn kor ee ON ik goe NAD oh troe pin) is a hormone. HCG is used for different reasons in men and women. HCG is used in combination with other fertility drugs to increase a woman’s chance of pregnancy. In men or adolescent boys, HCG helps the production of testosterone and sperm. HCG is also used in male children with cryptorchidism, a specific birth problem of the testes.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Novarel, Ovidrel, Pregnyl

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • asthma

  • cyst on the ovary

  • heart disease

  • migraine

  • kidney disease

  • ovarian cancer or other female-related cancer

  • prostate cancer or other male-related cancer

  • seizures

  • an unusual or allergic reaction to HCG, other hormones, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives

  • pregnant (this medicine should not be used if you are already pregnant)

  • breast feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is either injected in a muscle, like the thigh or buttocks, or it may be given under the skin instead. Ask your doctor which way is right for you. You will be taught how to prepare and give this medicine. Use exactly as directed. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.

It is important that you put your used needles and syringes in a special sharps container. Do not put them in a trash can. If you do not have a sharps container, call your pharmacist or healthcare provider to get one.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for male children as young as several months of age for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.

What if I miss a dose?

It is important not to miss your dose. Call your doctor or health care professional if you are unable to keep an appointment.

For men or boys: If you are giving your own injections, and miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you forget until the next day, skip the missed dose and continue with your schedule. Do not use double or extra doses. Call your doctor if you have any questions.

For women receiving fertility treatment: It is important not to miss a dose, as the success of your fertility treatment depends on proper use of this medication. Call your doctor or health care professional if you are unable to keep an appointment. If you are giving your own injections, do not use double or extra doses. Call your doctor if you have any questions.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • herbal or dietary supplements, like blue cohosh, black cohosh, or chasteberry

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

For men or boys: Your doctor must closely monitor you. Call your doctor if you notice any unusual effects.

For women receiving fertility treatments: Your doctor must closely monitor you. Urine samples, blood tess, or ultrasound exams may be used to monitor treatment. If you think you have become pregnant, contact your doctor at once.

Talk with your doctor about limiting alcohol and decreasing tobacco use during your fertility treatments.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

  • breathing problems

  • breast enlargement

  • enlargement of penis and testes

  • nausea, vomiting

  • pelvic pain or bloating

  • sudden increase in height

  • sudden weight gain

  • trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • acne

  • changes in emotions or mood

  • facial hair growth

  • headache

  • pain, irritation or inflammation at the injection site

  • tiredness

  • upset stomach

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

You may not need to store this medicine at home. If you are taking this medicine at home, ask your pharmacist how to store the product you are using. Throw away any unused medication after the expiration date.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

Share Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Get useful, helpful and relevant health + wellness information enews

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Serum hCG Levels following the Ovulatory Injection: Associations with Patient Weight and Implantation Time

Abstract

Objective. To test if serum hCG levels the morning after the ovulatory hCG injection correlate with (1) retrieval efficiency, (2) oocyte maturity, (3) embryo quality, (4) pregnancy, and/or (5) time to implantation in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Design. Retrospective cohort analysis. Setting. University-based IVF clinic. Patient(s). All IVF/ICSI cycles from April 2005 to February 2008 whose hCG administration was confirmed ( patients). Intervention(s). Serum hCG was measured the morning following the ovulatory injection, on the 16th day following retrieval, and repeated on day 18 for those with positive results. Main Outcome Measure(s). Number of follicles on the day of hCG injection, number of oocytes retrieved, maturity of oocytes, embryo quality, pregnancy outcome, and time to implantation. Result(s). hCG levels did not correlate with retrieval efficiency, oocyte maturity, embryo quality, or pregnancy. Postinjection hCG levels were inversely associated with patient weight and time to implantation. Conclusion(s). No correlation was found between hCG level and any parameter of embryo quality. Patient weight affected hCG levels following hCG injection and during the early period of pregnancy following implantation. No association between postinjection hCG level and time of implantation (adjusted for patient weight) was apparent.

1. Introduction

Traditionally 10,000 IU of hCG is administered to cause final oocyte maturation and ovulation in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). It is well established that hCG can mimic the midcycle LH surge . It is clear that the ovulatory injection of hCG is required to assure that oocytes will be retrieved at time of retrieval , thus avoiding “empty follicle syndrome.” In our practice, we have patients returning the morning after administering 10,000 IU of hCG so that we may assess their serum hCG level and to help determine if the patients correctly administered the injection. Although it is clear that some level of serum hCG after the ovulatory injection is necessary for oocyte retrieval, it is not clear whether a specific threshold level of serum hCG is required to permit successful IVF outcome. In addition, we chose to examine if the patient’s weight (a correlate of the patient’s volume of distribution) for this fixed dose of administration and for any endogenous hCG production affects circulating hCG levels and outcomes.

The objectives of this study were to evaluate if the serum hCG levels in blood drawn the morning following ovulatory injection of hCG correlate with (1) retrieval efficiency, (2) maturity of the retrieved oocytes, (3) embryo developmental extent and quality, (4) incidence of pregnancy, and/or (5) time to implantation in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Study Population

The Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School (formerly UMDNJ) Institutional Review Board approved this study (IRB # 0120070090). A retrospective chart review of all patients undergoing IVF with ICSI between April 2005 and February 2008 at a university-affiliated reproductive endocrinology clinic was conducted. Follicular growth was monitored by ultrasound and serum estradiol measurements. Follicular growth was considered sufficient when ultrasound monitoring revealed at least 2 follicles with a mean diameter of 16 mm or larger. Each patient was instructed to administer an intramuscular injection of 10,000 IU of hCG later that night for final oocyte maturation and ovulatory stimulation. Oocyte retrieval was scheduled for 34 hours after the injection. All patients were instructed to return for a blood draw between 7:00 and 8:00 am on the morning following the injection, to confirm that the hCG medication had been properly administered ( hours later). Serum hCG was assessed by chemiluminescent assay (Immulite 1000, Siemens, Deerfield, IL). A total of 472 IVF cycles in 367 patients were found to have confirmatory values of serum hCG determined the morning after the hCG injection. Of these 367 patients, 280 underwent only one retrieval, 72 patients underwent 2 cycles, 12 patients underwent 3 retrievals, and 3 patients underwent 4 retrievals. Records were reviewed to determine the number of follicles (~10 mm and larger) seen on ultrasound monitoring the morning prior to hCG injection, the oocytes that did not contain a germinal vesicle (GV) (i.e., mature oocytes), the developmental extent and quality of embryos that were transferred, and the incidence of pregnancy.

2.2. Retrieval Efficiency

The number of oocytes retrieved was divided by the number of follicles observed in the ovaries on the final day of ultrasound monitoring (the morning prior to injection of hCG). This ratio served to estimate the efficiency of retrieving oocytes from the follicles (the proportion of follicles yielding oocytes).

2.3. Oocyte Maturity

The number of oocytes with a germinal vesicle at the time of oocyte clean-up prior to intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was determined. The percentage of oocytes that did not contain a germinal vesicle was used as an estimate of the number of mature oocytes (that had begun the maturation), since this was the only criterion that we used to determine the oocytes on which we performed ICSI.

2.4. Embryo Developmental Extent and Quality

The developmental extent as well as embryo quality was assessed for all embryos transferred back to the patient’s uterus. For embryos transferred on day 3, the number of cells was counted and served as an indicator of the extent of embryo development. Grades for embryos transferred on day 3 (A, B, and C) were based on a combination of cell sizes (appropriate equality of divisions) and on fragmentation (less fragmentation leading to higher scores). For embryos transferred on day 5, the extent of blastocyst development was determined: morulae (M) with no sign of blastocele formation, blastocysts (B) with a blastocele that had not begun to expand, blastocysts that had expanded (XB), and blastocysts undergoing hatching (H). In addition, scores indicative of blastocyst quality were evaluated using a two-letter grade indicative of the number of cells in the inner cell mass (A > 7, B 4–7, and C < 4) and the number of cells seen in one focal plane at the equator of the blastocyst (A > 8, B 4–8, and C < 4). The first letter presented in Figure 1(c) denotes the number of cells in the inner cell mass.

(a)
(b)
(c)
(a)
(b)
(c) Figure 1 Postovulatory serum hCG levels and embryo quality. Bars indicate the incidence (frequency) of embryos with specified numbers of cells transferred on day 3 (a), embryo stage transferred on day 5 (b), and embryo grade transferred on day 5 (c). Error bars represent standard error. Postovulatory serum hCG levels were not associated with the number of cells in day 3 embryos (Contingency Chi Squared, ) (a), the embryo stage in day 5 transfers (Contingency Chi Squared, ) (b), nor the blastocyst grade in day 5 transfers (Contingency Chi Squared, ).

2.5. Incidence of Clinical Pregnancy

Serum hCG levels were determined on the 16th day following oocyte retrieval to determine if pregnancy had occurred. If the value on day 16 following oocyte retrieval was greater than 5.3 mIU/mL (the threshold of the assay for detecting pregnancy), serum hCG level was repeated on the 18th day following oocyte retrieval to look for a rise in serum hCG values 2 days after the initial measurement. An ultrasound examination was performed 4 weeks following the oocyte retrieval if hCG levels continued to rise after days 16 and 18. Clinical pregnancy was defined as the presence of at least one fetal sac in the uterus detected using ultrasound.

2.6. Time to Implantation

Only those patients with hCG levels that increased between day 16 and day 18 were evaluated for time of implantation (). The time of implantation was determined by extrapolation of the linear regression line relating the two ln ’s (for day 16 and 18 serum hCG values) versus time to the value at which equaled 10 mIU/mL for each fetal sac seen, similar to a method reported previously . A serum hCG value of 10 mIU/mL was arbitrarily chosen for each fetal sac because, in previous examinations, this choice of threshold yielded a relative minimum in the standard deviation of estimated implantation times (it is also about twice the manufacturer’s lower limit of detecting a pregnancy (5.2 IU/L)).

2.7. Statistical Analysis

Linear regression analyses were performed to evaluate the correlation between serum hCG and the number of oocytes retrieved per follicle scanned, maturity of the oocytes, clinical pregnancy rate, and time to implantation. Contingency Chi Squared tests were performed to evaluate the association between serum hCG and embryo quality. A value of <0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.

3. Results

Serum hCG levels determined the morning following the hCG injection averaged 202 ± 122 IU/L. Values of serum hCG varied widely ranging from 35 to 623 IU/L.

3.1. Efficiency of Oocyte Retrieval

The percentage of oocytes retrieved per follicle scanned was 89 ± 29% (Figure 1). Values for efficiency of oocyte retrieval varied widely from 27% to 260%. (Values exceeding 100% probably occurred due to difficulty with ultrasound visualization of the ovaries.) Values for efficiency of oocyte retrieval were not significantly associated with the serum hCG level determined the morning following the hCG injection (; ).

3.2. Oocyte Maturity

The percentage of mature oocytes was 88 ± 13.5%. The percentage of oocytes that were mature varied widely and ranged from 43% to 100%. Values for the percentage of oocytes that were mature were not significantly associated with the serum hCG levels determined the morning following the hCG injection (; ).

3.3. Embryo Developmental Extent and Quality

Of the 472 patients, 343 patients underwent embryo transfer (total of 822 embryos) on day 3 and 129 underwent embryo transfer (total of 234 embryos) on day 5. Based upon the distribution of hCG values, we divided the patients undergoing day 3 transfer into three categories representing three groups defined as low, moderate, and high levels of hCG (<150 mIU/mL with 134 patients and 318 embryos, 150–300 mIU/mL with 156 patients and 376 embryos, and >300 mIU/mL with 53 patients and 128 embryos). The number of cells in each embryo was assessed for embryos transferred on day 3. The distribution of cell numbers, indicative of developmental extent, is shown in Figure 1(a). Embryos with 8 cells were most common in all 3 categories with other cell numbers less represented in all categories (Figure 1(a)). The similarity of the three hCG categories suggests that there was no significant difference in the developmental extent in the three groups. The distributions were not significantly different when compared using Contingency Chi Squared: with 12 degrees of freedom; . This indicates that there was no association between the hCG groups and the distribution of numbers of cells. Hence, in day 3 embryos, the developmental extent was not associated with the serum hCG level determined the morning following the hCG injection (Figure 1(a)).

Embryo grades, reflecting evenness of cell divisions, and lack of fragmentation were compared for the same three groups of patients examined for cell numbers. The distributions of grades were not significant (Contingency Chi Squared: with 3 degrees of freedom; ).

Similarly, the extent of blastocyst development was assessed for embryos transferred on day 5. Blastocysts that had no expanded blastocele (Blasto) and blastocysts that had expanded blastocele (XBlasto) were predominant in all three categories. Comparison of the distributions of blastocyst development yielded no significant differences (Contingency Chi Squared: with 6 degrees of freedom; ). Therefore, the stages of the blastocysts transferred on day 5 were not associated with the hCG groups. Hence, blastocyst stages were not associated with serum hCG levels determined the morning following the hCG injection (Figure 1(b)).

The quality of blastocysts was assessed for embryos transferred on day 5. Based upon the distribution of hCG values, we divided the 129 patients undergoing day 5 transfer into three categories representing three groups defined as low, moderate, and high levels of hCG (<150 mIU/mL with 59 patients with 105 embryos, 150–300 mIU/mL with 52 patients with 94 embryos, and >300 mIU/mL with 18 patients with 35 embryos). Blastocysts graded A/B and B/B were predominant in all three hCG categories. Comparison of the distributions of blastocyst grades yielded no significant differences (Contingency Chi Squared: with 16 degrees of freedom; ). Therefore, the grades of the blastocysts transferred on day 5 were not associated with the hCG groups. Hence, blastocyst grades were not associated with serum hCG levels determined the morning following the hCG injection (Figure 1(c)).

3.4. Clinical Pregnancy

Two hundred five of the retrievals resulted in clinical pregnancy (). Clinical pregnancy was not significantly correlated with hCG levels determined the morning following the hCG injection (, ) (Figure 2). In addition, there is no apparent threshold for postovulatory serum hCG levels that will predict pregnancy. The four lowest serum hCG values (35.6, 37.5, 43.7, and 46.6 mIU/mL) were all associated with a clinical pregnancy (4 adjacent points, upper left in Figure 2).

Figure 2 Postovulatory serum hCG level and pregnancy rate. The incidence of pregnancy was 50%. Serum hCG levels the morning after ovulatory injection did not correlate with incidence of clinical pregnancy (). Patients who were pregnant were considered a value of 1 and patients who were not pregnant were considered a value of 0. Straight line is the regression line for all patients. The blue tracing displays a rolling average of the patients.

3.5. Time of Implantation

The mean time to implantation was 8.6 ± 2.3 days. Implantation times ranged from 3.2 to 14.9 days after oocyte retrieval. Roughly 72% of the implantations occurred on day 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10. The mean time to implantation was later (9.5–10 days) when the postinjection serum hCG level was low (~100 mIU/mL) when compared to 8 days when the postinjection serum hCG level was higher (250–400 mIU/mL). Despite the wide degree of variability of implantation times, the trend toward earlier implantation time with higher serum levels of hCG seems apparent even in the raw data points. A semilogarithmic best-fit line fits the raw data well and mirrors the trend present in the rolling average. This inverse relationship between logarithm of time to implantation and serum hCG level yielded a significant correlation coefficient (; ) (Figure 3).

Figure 3 Time to implantation (days) as a function of serum hCG level the morning after 10 000 units ovulatory injection. The mean time to implantation was days (). There was an inverse correlation between implantation time and serum hCG (). A rolling average of the implantation time (red circles) was longer (9–10.5 days) when the postinjection serum hCG levels were lower (~100 mIU/mL) when compared to an implantation time of ~8 days when the postinjection serum hCG levels were higher (250–400 mIU/mL). There was a significant inverse association (regression equation, smooth line) between implantation time and serum hCG level ().

3.6. Association between Time of Implantation and Postinjection Serum hCG Levels and Patient Weight

HCG levels varied from patient to patient. One possible contributor to the variation in hCG levels was the final volume of dilution within the patient, a value proportional to 1/patient weight. Serum hCG levels were significantly correlated with 1/patient weight (, ). In addition, the time of implantation was significantly correlated with 1/patient weight (, ). Therefore, 1/patient weight, postinjection hCG levels, and the time of implantation were all significantly associated.

In order to attempt to discern if dilution factor could explain both the postinjection hCG levels and the estimate of implantation time (based on serum levels of hCG), we corrected the implantation time estimates by using individualized thresholds of serum hCG for each patient. These individualized thresholds were determined by multiplying the original threshold (10 mIU/mL per fetal sac) by the dilution factor, 156.27 lb/patient weight (a dimensionless factor obtained by dividing the average weight of all patients (156.27 lb) by the specific patient’s weight). When this correction was applied, the association between postinjection hCG level and corrected implantation time was not significant (, )

4. Discussion

To our knowledge, this is the second published report examining postinjection serum β-hCG levels and IVF outcome. It has been previously reported that improper administration of the ovulatory hCG results in a serum hCG level of zero and the empty follicle syndrome where no oocytes are obtained at retrieval . One might expect that different serum levels of hCG could lead to different rates of ovulation, different attainment of maturation by oocytes, and possibly different rates of embryonic development.

The time of implantation was significantly associated with serum hCG level the morning following hCG injection. This novel observation is particularly revealing in consideration of the observation that there were no significant differences in embryonic development. The actual time to implantation cannot be determined accurately without the use of histological examination, impossible to perform during a cycle of conception. Hence, hCG level evaluation (serum and/or urine) has traditionally been used as secondary variable to evaluate time of implantation .

Our observations reveal an expected relationship between weight and dilution of administered drug. Causal roles of weight versus hCG level on implantation time are difficult to establish when multiple variables are associated with the outcome as well as with each other. One prior study (Shah et al., ) found no significant association between obesity status and hCG levels following intramuscular injection examining smaller numbers of subjects. While it is plausible that weight was a major determinant of serum hCG level, and that postinjection hCG levels were determinants of the time of implantation, it is not possible to establish from these data whether implantation time was affected by the hCG level attained following hCG injection, or by patient weight or some other unidentified factor that may be associated with one, two, or all three of these parameters. This work suggests that patient weight may be a confounding factor in the use of this technique to estimate the time of implantation. The observation that correction of the implantation time by adjusting the hCG threshold for the dilution factor suggests that the same dilution effect that occurs for exogenous injection of hCG may occur with the endogenous release of hCG. When adjustment for this was applied, the association of implantation time with postinjection hCG level was not significant, suggesting that the serum hCG levels shortly following implantation are diluted to the same extent as injected hCG. Further, this suggests that the hCG levels expected during pregnancy should be adjusted by patient weight. Dismissal of a pregnancy as unsuccessful based on a single low serum hCG level in a heavy patient may lead to poor patient management.

Despite the initial β-hCG and appropriate doubling in forty-eight hours, the exact time of implantation is still quite unpredictable. Previously, several studies have been conducted to shed light on this phenomenon. Wilcox et al. collected daily urinary hCG samples for six months in 221 women attempting natural conception . In 199 natural conceptions, they found that implantation day (the first day that hCG appeared in the woman’s urine) ranged from day 6 to day 18 after ovulation and that 84% of the women had implantation on day 8, 9, or 10 following ovulation . The risk of early pregnancy loss increased with later implantations . The range of implantation times that we report after oocyte retrieval (3.2 to 14.9 days after oocyte retrieval) is quite similar to the range of implantation days after ovulation reported by Wilcox et al. . Our observation that 72% of the implantations occurred on day 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 also suggests that implantation following IVF occurs with a similar interval after hCG injection as implantation occurs following the LH surge in the natural cycles observed by Wilcox et al. .

In laboratory animals it has been demonstrated that the endometrium goes through several phases: (1) neutral toward implantation, (2) receptive window of implantation, and (3) refractory phase to implantation . It is still unclear exactly what histological and morphological endometrial change as well as what hormonal milieu is optimal for implantation. Generally, based on donor and frozen embryo transfer cycles, it is clear that some level of endometrial receptivity (endometrial histologic readiness in the right hormonal milieu) is necessary for implantation to occur. Based on our findings here, embryo developmental extent and quality were not associated with serum hCG levels the morning following the hCG injection. However, time to implantation was inversely related to these serum hCG values. This may suggest that that the hCG levels attained following the ovulatory injection of hCG affect the endometrial window of receptivity (and hence time to implantation).

We did not evaluate if postinjection serum hCG values or if time to implantation was affected by the type of stimulation protocol. However, it has been previously reported that time to implantation is not affected by the type of IVF stimulation protocol used. It was previously demonstrated that implantation time did not differ among women using protocols of (a) IVF stimulation without a GnRH agonist, (b) long GnRH agonist protocol and embryo transfer on day 2, (c) long GnRH agonist protocol and embryo transfer on day 3, and (d) GnRH flare protocol .

In summary, we found that postinjection serum hCG levels did not correlate with number of oocytes retrieved per follicle scanned, maturity of the retrieved oocytes, embryo development or quality, or incidence of pregnancy confirming the results of Levy et al. .

Postinjection serum hCG levels determined were inversely correlated with both the time of implantation and patient weight. Higher serum hCG levels were associated with earlier implantation times. However, the lack of significant correlation when implantation time was corrected using individualized hCG thresholds adjusted for patient weight suggests that the association between implantation time and postinjection serum hCG levels may be due to similar dilution of exogenous and endogenous hCG levels. Since the extent of embryonic development was not different at different serum hCG levels, we propose that embryonic developmental rate or quality observed at the time of embryo transfer was not responsible for these differences in the time of implantation. We propose a larger series to confirm these observations, along with further investigations to better determine the exact mechanism(s) of this phenomenon, before this information might be used in attempts to improve clinical outcomes.

Capsule

Postinjection serum hCG level predicts neither embryo quality nor IVF outcome. However, it is closely associated with implantation time, and with patient weight. After correction for patient weight in calculations for implantation time, the association of implantation time with the postinjection hCG level is no longer significant, suggesting that serum hCG levels are dependent upon patient weight both following hCG injection and during endogenous rises of hCG during early pregnancy.

Disclosure

The data is the result of original research. The data on serum hCG and IVF outcome were presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine 64th annual meeting, San Francisco, CA (P # 37). The data on serum hCG and implantation time were presented at the Society for Gynecologic Investigation 56th annual meeting, Glasgow, Scotland (P # 708).

Conflict of Interests

Peter G. McGovern, M.D., has past research funding support from NIH, Merck, EMDSerono and Ferring Pharmaceuticals. David H. McCulloh, Ph.D., has received an honorarium from Columbia Laboratories. There was no third party financial support for conducting this study.

A new diet craze, the hCG diet, is unsafe and unsustainable for long-term weight loss, health experts warn. People who go on the fad diet eat about 500 calories a day and take supplements (either via drops or injection) of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) several times a week. The hormone is produced by women during pregnancy.

But eating so few calories a day is dangerous and puts the body in a starvation-type state, said Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic.

When the body is starved for calories, the body’s metabolism slows down to preserve energy and “in the long run, that’ll sabotage your weight control efforts,” Zeratsky told MyHealthNewsDaily.

“The question is how long can someone sustain a restrictive diet of 500 calories, and the realistic answer is not long,” she said. When a person gets off the diet, he or she will likely overeat and overindulge because the body has been in such a restrictive mode, Zeratsky said.

500 calories a day

The only reason why anyone loses weight off this diet is because they’re eating 500 calories a day, Zeratsky said. While calorie intakes are different from person to person, most nutrition information at the grocery store is based off a 2,000-calorie diet. For healthy weight loss , a daily intake of 1,200 to 1,800 calories is generally acceptable, she said.

Eating 500 calories a day is equivalent to eating one cup of chopped-up chicken breast, with two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables — in essence, it’s about the amount of calories a person would consume in just one meal.

“I think there’re more reasonable, sustainable and healthier ways to control your weight,” she said.

When a body is subsiding off 500 calories a day, the body leeches protein from the muscle in the heart, and that makes the heart muscle irritable, which can lead to ventricular tachycardia and sudden cardiac death, said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut.

“So I think the diet is not just folly, I think it’s potentially fatal folly,” Katz told MyHealthNewsDaily.

The ‘Dumbo feather’

So what’s the purpose of the hormone?

It’s the so-called “Dumbo feather” that makes you think you can fly, Katz said.

“If you told people you can lose a lot of weight by eating 500 calories a day, no one would reach for their credit card,” he said. “The hormone is the excuse — the promise of magic.”

As far as the actual injections of hCG go, risks are — as far as experts know — relatively small. Bleeding, infection and blood clots are all possible, but risks of those are small, Katz said.

But what’s also dangerous is the fact that experts could be unaware of some of the potential dangers of the hormone, he said. Right now, hCG is only approved as one part of a fertility treatment for women, so that the body can mimic the state of pregnancy. Only small studies have been done so far on the efficacy of using hCG for weight loss, where evidence of harm is hard to detect because of the small sample sizes, Katz said.

When a woman takes hCG, her blood tests will indicate that she is pregnant because the hormone is only produced during pregnancy. If that woman were to go to the hospital for abdominal or pelvic pain but failed to tell her doctors about taking the hCG, the doctors might think she is having an ectopic pregnancy simply because her hCG level would be positive, said Dr. Pieter Cohen, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an internist at Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts.

“They’d do an ultrasound, see no pregnancy and assume it’s ectopic, and that’s a surgical emergency,” Cohen told MyHealthNewsDaily. “These are the sorts of things that can happen when people are pursuing this paramedical approach to dieting.”

And for men, the only time hCG is naturally high in their bodies is when they have cancer, Cohen said.

“So why are people injecting something that is only at a significant level in men when they have cancer?” he said. “That’s absurd.”

Origins of an idea

So where did the idea that hCG can help with weight loss come from?

In the 1960s, a doctor working at a Roman clinic was treating men with a rare endocrine disorder, in which their bodies were missing hormonal signals to trigger production of normal male hormones, Cohen said.

As part of the treatment for this rare hormonal deficit in men — which often resulted in the patients becoming overweight — this doctor injected them with hCG. When treated, they lost weight, he said.

“But that was for someone who was sick, and being treated back to normal levels of hormones,” Cohen said. “That’s the only reason why they lost the weight.”

That doctor then questioned whether hCG was a viable option for weight loss for other people without the rare endocrine disorder. He performed experiments where he put people on 500-calorie diets and gave them hCG supplements, and found that they lost weight. But skeptics weren’t sure if it was the diet or the hormone that prompted the weight loss, Cohen said.

Subsequent studies revealed that it wasn’t the hCG that prompted the weight loss — it was the low calorie intake. A 1995 review of studies, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, showed that taking hCG did not help people lose weight, did not treat obesity and did not reduce feelings of hunger or promote feelings of well-being.

“A thyroid disease is the same way,” Cohen said. “If you have low thyroid function, you can gain weight from that. You give someone back the thyroid hormones, they lose weight. Treating a disease can cause weight loss by balancing hormones in the body.”

But for most people who don’t have hormonal imbalances in the body, taking hCG does absolutely no good, he said.

Pass it on: The hCG diet is dangerous because it promotes an extremely low intake of calories, and it is not good for sustained weight loss, experts say.

  • 4 Fad Diets that Donâ??t Really Work
  • Fad Facts: The Truth About the Dukan Diet
  • Is the 17-Day Diet Just Another Weight-Loss Gimmick?

Follow MyHealthNewsDaily staff writer Amanda Chan on Twitter @AmandaLChan.

The Pros & Cons of HCG Injections

The Cons of HCG Injections

Some of the common cons and side effects of HCG injections that require doctor’s attention or withdrawal from the program include:

Causes allergic reaction

• This is one of the main negative effect to most people who don’t blend well with HCG injections. To avoid more adverse effects, it’s recommended you see a doctor when you experience some signs that indicate the presence of allergic reaction.

• Swelling of your face, tongue, throat, lips and difficulty in breathing are among the key signs of allergic reactions and requires a doctor’s attention.

Promotes development of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome

• This condition mostly affect women, more so after the first cycle treatment. It can become a life threatening condition if not treated early enough.

• You should call your doctor immediately in case you detect having the disease. In most women, it is characterized by; severe pelvic pain, weight gain, shortness of breath, stomach pain and swelling, nausea, vomiting and frequent urination urge.

Can easily cause early puberty in young boys

• Although it is not a common side effect, it affects some young boys who experience puberty signs earlier than expected.

• It is recommended you take him to the doctor in case he shows puberty signs such as deepened voice, increased sweating, acne and growth of pubic hair.

HCG injection does not guarantee long run weight loss

• A considerable number of people who used the program complained about its ability to maintain weight loss in the long run.

• In most cases, the lost weight is gradually regained after you have finished the dose and you will be forced to take another dose after some time.

Require consistent follow up

• Apart from requiring prescription during purchase, HCG also needs a lot of attention while mixing the key ingredients of injections.

• In case you miss a dose, you ought to see your doctor for advice. While under medication, this program prohibits you from using certain types of food that might react negatively with your body.

Despite having a couple of pros, the cons may outdo them depending on the user. They are relatively expensive compared to other weight loss supplements ranging from $ 300 to $400 for every 1000 i.u. other common side effects include; headache, depression, promotes development of painful lumps, mild swelling, pain and irritation on the injected place, muscle cramps, feeling restless, breast swelling or tenderness and water weight gain.

Since this is not a complete list of HCG injections cons, it is recommended you inform your doctor in case of any bothersome or unusual side effect.

Is HCG The Fountain Of Youth?

Dr. Freier:

I appreciate your question Charles. I have been thinking about writing an article about hCG for some time….and this gives me the opportunity to do so!

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone naturally produced by a woman’s placenta after implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterine wall. It helps stimulate the production of progesterone by the ovaries to maintain the uterine wall during pregnancy. You may have heard about human chorionic gonadotropin because it is the hormone detected by at-home pregnancy tests.

hCG has also been shown to have a whole host of other roles during pregnancy including, but not limited to, stimulating fetal hormone development, and repelling the immune cells of the mother to protect the fetus. And in the case of male fetuses, hCG has a luteinizing hormone-like effect that causes the development of the genitals. The hCG stimulates testosterone production from the testes in the male fetus and subsequent development of male genital system. As you can see, hCG is an important hormone, but it may not be the “fountain of youth” your buddy is making it out to be. Read on!

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a glycoprotein composed of 237 amino acids. It has a subunit that is identical to luteinizing hormones (LH). Because of its similarity to LH it can be used medicinally as a fertility treatment. It is used to induce ovulation in the ovaries as well as testosterone production in the testes. To be used clinically, hCG can be extracted from the urine of pregnant women or produced from cultures of genetically modified cells. For supplemental purposes, hCG comes in a powder form that must be mixed with purified water and then injected just under the skin.

In women, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injections are used in lieu of luteinizing hormone (LH) for final maturation and induction of the egg. In the presence of one or more mature ovarian follicles, ovulation can also be triggered by the administration of hCG, as ovulation will happen between 38 to 40 hours after a single hCG injection. Also, patients undergoing IVF, in general, receive hCG to trigger the ovulation process.

In men, hCG injections stimulate the testicles to make testosterone. The intratesticular testosterone is necessary for the production of sperm. Typical uses for hCG in men include hypogonadism (i.e. Low-T), fertility treatment, and it is used in combination with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

When supplemental testosterone is introduced into the male body, the natural negative-feedback loop of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis cause the body to shut down its own production of testosterone. High levels of supplemental testosterone trigger the hypothalamus to shut down its production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). Without GnRH, the pituitary gland stops releasing luteinizing hormone (LH).

LH normally travels from the pituitary to the testes, via the blood stream, where it triggers the production and release of testosterone. Without LH, the testes shut down. This causes testicular atrophy which decrease natural production of testosterone which then leads to a decrease in the production of sperm. hCG is commonly used during and after testosterone therapy to maintain and/or restore testicular size and function, preserving normal testosterone and sperm production.

Human chorionic gonadotropin has often been promoted as a weight loss aid. This was started in the 1950’s by a British endocrinologist, Albert Simeons, who proposed hCG as an adjunct to an ultra-low-calorie (fewer than 500 calories) diet for weight-loss. While studying pregnant women in India on a calorie-deficient diet who were treated with low-dose hCG, Dr. Simeons observed they lost fat tissue rather than lean muscle tissue. He reasoned that hCG must be programming the hypothalamus to do this in order to protect the developing fetus by promoting mobilization and consumption of abnormal, excessive fat deposits. In 1954 Dr. Simeons published a book entitled “Pounds and Inches”, designed to combat obesity. While practicing in Rome, Italy, Dr. Simeons recommended low-dose daily hCG injections in combination with a customized ultra-low-calorie (500 cal/day, high-protein, low-carbohydrate/fat) diet, which was supposed to result in a loss of fat storage without loss of lean tissue.

Unfortunately, other researchers did not find the same results when conducting experiments to confirm Simeons’ conclusions. A 1976 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that hCG is no more effective as a weight-loss aid than dietary restriction alone. In response, the FDA required Simeons and others to include a disclaimer on all advertisements presenting the 1976 study data. A 1995 meta-analysis found that studies supporting hCG for weight loss were conducted with poor method quality and concluded that “there is no scientific evidence that hCG is effective in the treatment of obesity; it does not bring about weight-loss or fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being.” In the early 2000’s there was a resurgence of interest in the “hCG diet” following promotion by Kevin Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau was subsequently banned from making hCG weight-loss claims by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2008, and eventually jailed over such claims. In 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) passed policy that “The use of human chorionic gonadotropin for weight loss is inappropriate,” and according to the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, no new clinical trials have been published since the definitive 1995 meta-analysis. The scientific consensus is that any weight loss reported by individuals on an “hCG diet” may be attributed entirely to the fact that such diets prescribe calorie intake of between 500 and 1,000 calories per day, substantially below recommended levels for an adult, to the point that this may risk health effects associated with malnutrition.

While your golf buddy may indeed be losing weight, what he is probably experiencing, based on what he is reporting to you, is the hCG supplementation is increasing his body’s natural production of testosterone, which could give him extra energy, increase his sex drive and would help him lose weight. The increased testosterone would also cause the growth of the testes and penis. While these are real benefits, hCG use needs to be closely monitored by a physician because it is not without some possible side effects, most of which could be problematic and one that may be seen as a benefit…the one your golfing buddy is bragging about.

For women the adverse effects of hCG include: bloating, stomach or pelvic pain, abdominal or stomach pain, decreased amount of urine, feelings of indigestion, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, shortness of breath, swelling of feet or lower legs, and rapid weight gain. For men the adverse effects include: acne, enlargement of the penis and testes, growth of pubic hair, rapid increase in height, difficult breathing, flushing of skin, hives or welts, itching of skin, pain in chest, groin, or legs, especially the calves, severe sudden headache, slurred speech, sudden loss of coordination, sudden severe weakness or numbness in arm or leg, sudden unexplained shortness of breath, tightness in chest, unusually warm skin, vision changes, and wheezing. While most of these adverse effects are rare, they need to be reported to your physician immediately if they are experienced.

If you have an interest in hCG as a treatment option, I would encourage you to call Optimal Male. Whether your interest is boosting your natural testosterone levels, or if you are currently using testosterone through another medical provider and you are concerned about the long term effect on your natural testosterone or sperm production, I encourage you to call us.

We will conduct a complete review of your medical history and help you choose the treatment option that is best for you… and of course your consultation and exam is FREE.

Live Well!

The Promise

Take a “natural” hormone the body makes during pregnancy — and lose a lot of weight? That’s the promise that’s turned the hCG Diet — named after that hormone — into a craze that just won’t quit. If you also go on an ultra-low-calorie diet, backers claim, hCG can “reset your metabolism” so you lose as much as a pound a day without feeling hungry or weak.

Here’s what the science says: Any super-low-cal diet will result in weight loss. Most studies have found that hCG (stands for human chorionic gonadotropin) has nothing to do with it.

The hCG diet limits you to 500 calories a day for 8 weeks while taking hCG, either by getting a shot or by taking a “homeopathic” product, such as oral drops, pellets, or sprays, which you can buy at the store.

None of this is approved by the FDA for weight loss. The shots themselves are legal, as long as a health care provider gives them to you. (They’re approved to treat fertility issues.) But over-the-counter hCG products are not. The FDA has sent warning letters to several companies that market homeopathic hCG products.

Are HCG weight-loss supplements safe—and legal?

“Obviously, the FDA hasn’t shut down all the manufacturers ,” Rettig says.

Retailers stand up against HCG

Given the controversy and FDA stance on homeopathic HCG drops, some retailers have closed their doors to the products. Cambridge Naturals, for example, used to carry Liddell HCG products to “satisfy the few” interested customers, says Kris Berg, manager for the Cambridge, Mass.-based store. But since those sold, the retailer hasn’t stocked any homeopathic HCG.

“We had a rep approach us, and she talked especially about the calorie restriction,” Berg says. “The staff all felt that this wasn’t responsible. When customers have asked, we’ve said that there are better ways to approach , and the jury’s still out in terms of the science about .”

When the rare customer comes into Waltham, Mass-based Johnson Compounding and Wellness Center asking about the HCG diet, co-owner Steve Bernardi tells them that if they consume 500 calories a day, they’ll lose weight. “But that’s a starvation diet,” Bernardi says, noting that his store doesn’t carry OTC HCG products. “That’s not a healthy diet. I’m much more a proponent of a protein diet that feeds the body the amino acids it needs.”

Likewise, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage doesn’t want to sell customers on “false promises,” says Heather Isely, co-owner and executive vice president for the Lakewood, Colo.-based retail chain. “HCG is a dangerous fad at the moment,” Isely says. “And it is a fad. It’s not going to sustain people in weight loss.”

Isely worries that retailers promoting the HCG diet could harm the entire natural products industry. She encourages her peers to consider forgoing short-term profits in order to gain the long-term loyalty of customers. “Our industry has to be cautious with the hype and the fads,” she says. “We do ourselves a disservice when we jump on the fad bandwagon because we then don’t look credible.”

Although Isely considered bringing in Liddell’s HCG product, in the end she couldn’t be sure of its legal position. “I was always uncomfortable with it,” Isely says. The product, she explains, isn’t part of the homeopathic pharmacopoeia. “So where does that leave them as far as their regulatory status goes? I don’t know the answer to that question.”

The FDA may soon clear up any confusion about HCG products—that is, if Bernardi’s predictions come true. He expects the FDA to go after the manufacturers—and perhaps retailers—that continue to endorse HCG for weight loss. “It’s definitely an off-label use,” Bernardi says. “I have a feeling the FDA is going to come down on this hard very shortly.”

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *