16 Days Past Ovulation (DPO) and Your hCG Levels
16 DPO and hCG Levels
We are learning such amazing things about our pregnancies these days. Our doctors love, love, love to check those hCG levels. However, knowing our levels may not always be such a good thing because doctors often react very negatively to lower hCG levels. They will scare women half out of their minds with predictions of miscarriage—even when their pregnancy is, in reality, perfectly viable.
Due to my own experience with two misdiagnosed miscarriages, I have done a lot of research about hCG levels and pregnancy. One study I found seems very relevant and compelling, and I have since shared the findings with many other women. In this study, researchers looked at hCG levels 16 days past ovulation (DPO). The results can help women understand if there truly is no hope—or if, on the contrary, their doctor may be just a little too hasty in dooming the pregnancy.
I wrote this article for women who are going through a miscarriage scare. The numbers that appear in the table below may give a ray of hope to women who have been told by their doctors that there is no hope. In fact, I believe the actual percentages of successful pregnancies is much higher than what is reported in this study.
A Ray of Hope
This article is not meant to worry anyone! My purpose here is to provide hope. If your doctor has told you there's no hope based on your hCG levels, this article is for you. If everything is fine in your pregnancy so far, you have no reason to worry!
The study that I want to share with you is called "Human chorionic gonadotropin as a predictor of outcome in assisted reproductive technology pregnancies." Here is the abstract (scroll down for the explanation):
Objective: To determine whether serum hCG and progesterone levels obtained 16 days after ovulation are reliable predictors of pregnancy outcome.
Design: A retrospective study.
Setting: The data were obtained from two integrated Adelaide-based clinics: the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Wakefield Clinic.
Patient(s): Women who have achieved a pregnancy through ART treatment.
Main Outcome Measure(s): Analysis of data using logistic regression (STATA v.5.0) to predict a binary outcome: ongoing pregnancy or miscarriage. Ongoing pregnancy was defined as progression to >20 weeks' gestation. Miscarriage included spontaneous abortion, biochemical and ectopic pregnancies, and blighted ovum.
Result(s): Human chorionic gonadotropin was found to be the main determinant of ongoing pregnancy. Age and progesterone had minor effects, whereas stimulation, luteal support, and treatment types were nonpredictive. Low hCG levels between 25 and 50 IU/L are associated with a low probability of ongoing pregnancy (<35%), whereas levels of >500 IU/L predict a >95% chance of ongoing pregnancy.
Conclusions(s): A single serum hCG level 16 days after ovulation provides a useful predictor of pregnancy outcome.
Reference: Homan G, Brown S, Moran J, Homan S, Kerin J. "Human chorionic gonadotropin as a predictor of outcome in assisted reproductive technology pregnancies." Fertil Steril. 2000 Feb;73(2):270-4.
Pregnancy Viability: hCG Levels at 16 DPO
# Women in Study
% Viable Pregnancies
What Can We Learn From This Study?
I've emailed this table to countless women over the last few years. Let me share what I believe may be important to learn from this study.
First of all, if your hCG levels at 16dpo are over 300, do not wrongly assume you are completely safe from miscarriage. Miscarriages still happen—but they are fewer and farther between. However, your pregnancy does have a much better chance than most of continuing.
Secondly, if your levels are below 50 hCG at 16dpo, don't give up all hope. I've talked to women who have had hCGs do strange things early in pregnancy. They've temporarily slowed, plateaued, or even declined—and they still go on to have a viable pregnancy. We've had women report they were dehydrated, but that once they hydrated their numbers jumped up again. Also, it is possible the loss of a hidden twin may cause numbers to temporarily slow or decline. Many pregnancies start out as twins and end up as singletons very early on in the pregnancy. Another possibility is that women can be off on their dates and have longer cycles. You may just not be as far along as you and your doctor might believe (this happens far too frequently).
These researchers did find that age also plays a role. Women over 30 who had lower numbers were more apt to miscarry than women under 30 years of age. Again, some women under 30 with lower numbers can and do miscarry whereas women over 30 with lower numbers continue on with their pregnancies.
If your hCG numbers are on the low side and if you are in your 30s and 40s, you may want to have your progesterone checked. We've seen that a number of women with low hCG levels also seem to have low progesterone. Some studies suggest that progesterone supplements can have a positive influence in the direction these pregnancies take. Talk to your doctor.
These numbers simply give you an idea of what may happen. They are not written in stone, and they do not mean that you will or will not miscarry. The purpose of sharing these numbers is to provide more information for women who were told they may miscarry or be at greater risk of miscarriage. For some women, this information may provide a bit more reassurance, especially when their physicians give them little room for hope.
I am not a medical professional. This information is meant to supplement the information from your doctor. If you feel your doctor is not doing enough for you or not willing to listen to your concerns, I strongly encourage you to take what you've learned here and get a second opinion.
More About hCG Levels
Here are some links to help demystify hCG numbers in the first trimester.
- Advanced Fertility -- hCG levels in pregnancy
Early pregnancy, including an explanation of hCG levels and ultrasound findings.
- Conceiving Concepts
Great information on real hCG doubling times (no, it's not really every 48 hours for many) and typical ranges of hCG values.
- hCG levels and the First Trimester of Pregnancy
My own FAQ about hCG numbers.