HCG blood test - qualitative
Beta-HCG in blood serum - qualitative; Human chorionic gonadotrophin - serum - qualitative; Pregnancy test - blood - qualitative; Serum HCG - qualitative; HCG in blood serum - qualitative
A qualitative HCG blood test checks if there is a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin in your blood. HCG is a hormone produced in the body during pregnancy.
Other HCG tests include:
- HCG urine test
- Quantitative pregnancy test (checks specific level of HCG in your blood)
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed. This is most often taken from a vein. The procedure is called a venipuncture.
How to Prepare for the Test
No special preparation is needed.
How the Test will Feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed
Most often, this test is performed to determine if you are pregnant. HCG level in the blood may also be high in women with certain types of ovarian tumors or in men with testicular tumors.
The test result will be reported as negative or positive.
- The test is negative if you are not pregnant.
- The test is positive if you are pregnant.
What Abnormal Results Mean
If your blood HCG is positive and you DO NOT have a pregnancy properly implanted in the uterus, it may indicate:
Risks of having blood drawn are slight, but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Blood accumulating under the skin (hematoma)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
False positive tests may occur when certain hormones are increased, such as after menopause or when taking hormone supplements.
A pregnancy test is considered to be very accurate. When the test is negative but pregnancy is still suspected, the test should be repeated in 1 week.
Geno KA, Cervinski MA, Nerenz RD. Pregnancy and the fetus. In: Winter WE, Holmquist B, Sokoll LJ, Berthholf RL, eds. Handbook of Diagnostic Endocrinology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 15.
Jeelani R, Bluth MH. Reproductive function and pregnancy. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 25.
Yarbrough ML, Stout M, Gronowski AM. Pregnancy and its disorders. In: Rifai N, ed. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2018:chap 69.
Last reviewed on: 12/2/2020
Reviewed by: LaQuita Martinez, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Alpharetta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.