human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)

Generic Name: human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) (injectable) (HUE man KORE ee ON ik goe NAD oh TRO pin)
Brand Name: Novarel, Ovidrel, Pregnyl, ...show all 10 brand names

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 in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about HCG?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is given as an injection under the skin or into a muscle. If you use this medicine at home, your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will give you specific instructions on how and where to inject this medicine. 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.

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.

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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, and 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 this medicine 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, this medication is in the FDA pregnancy category X. This means that using the medication once you are pregnant can cause birth defects in the baby. Do not use this medication if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider 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); or

  • a hormone-related cancer (such as prostate cancer).

If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use this medication:

  • a thyroid or adrenal gland disorder;

  • an ovarian cyst;

  • premature puberty;

  • cancer or a tumor of the breast, ovary, uterus, prostate, hypothalamus, or pituitary gland;

  • undiagnosed uterine bleeding;

  • heart disease;

  • kidney disease;

  • epilepsy;

  • migraines; or

  • asthma.

Although HCG can help you become pregnant, this medication is in the FDA pregnancy category X. This means that using the medication once you are pregnant can cause birth defects in the baby. Do not use this medication 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. Do not use HCG without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I use HCG?

Use this medication 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 this medication 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 the powder form of HCG at room temperature away from light, moisture, and heat.

After mixing the powder with the liquid you must keep the mixture in the refrigerator. If you are using the Pregnyl brand of HCG, throw away any mixed medicine that you have not used within 60 days after mixing. If you are using the Novarel brand of HCG, throw away any mixed medicine that you have not used within 30 days after mixing.

Store Ovidrel prefilled syringes in the refrigerator. You may also store Ovidrel at room temperature protected from light, but you must use it within 30 days.

Carefully follow the mixing, storage, and expiration instructions that come with the brand of HCG you are using. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about how long your mixed medicine can be stored and at what temperature.

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 while using HCG?

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.

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.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Ovulation Induction:

Ovulation Induction (if the cause of anovulation is secondary and not due to primary ovarian failure):

chorionic gonadotropin:
5000 to 10,000 units IM one day following last day of menotropins.

recombinant chorionic gonadotropin:
250 mcg subcutaneously one day following last dose of follicle-stimulating agent.

Usual Adult Dose for Hypogonadism -- Male:

hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (secondary to a pituitary deficiency):

500 to 1000 units IM three times a week for 3 weeks followed by the same dose twice a week for 3 weeks or,
4000 units IM three times a week for 6 to 9 months followed by 2000 units three times a week for an additional 3 months.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Prepubertal Cryptorchidism:

Prepubertal cryptorchidism (usually between ages of 4 and 9 years and not due to anatomical obstruction):

4000 units IM three times a week for 3 weeks or,
5000 units IM on every other day for four injections or,
500 to 1000 units IM for 15 injections over a period of 6 weeks or,
500 units three times a week for 4 to 6 weeks; if not successful, may repeat series at 1000 unit dosage one month later.

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.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about HCG.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.03. Revision Date: 2010-12-15, 5:01:39 PM.

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