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What is HCG? Physician Uses, Weight Loss, Benefits & Side Effects

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HCG—The Pregnancy Hormone And Obesity

What is HCG?

Both men, and non-pregnant women produce the glycoprotein hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) in very small amounts. This helps in the synthesis of testosterone in men. Women however, produce large amounts of HCG when they are pregnant. This hormone signals the body that an egg has been fertilized and it is necessary to create a “nesting” environment. The placenta continues to produce high amounts of HCG that help the body maintain the pregnancy. HCG allows for the mobilization of fat stores from the pregnant woman to ensure the baby is adequately nourished during pregnancy.

How is HCG used by physicians?

HCG is extracted from the urine of pregnant women and is used for many medical reasons.

Fertility—HCG is used in fertility treatment for both men and women. Because HCG supports the corpus luteum, HCG injections may be used to help produce progesterone, and to stimulate ovulation in women at a particular time. In men, HCG treatment helps stimulate the Leydig cells to synthesize testosterone.[3]

Treatment of hypogonadism— HCG is used to help both males and females when the testes or ovaries produce too little sex hormones.

To test for certain tumors—Elevated levels of natural HCG in the body could indicate the presence of testicular or ovarian cancer.[4][1] When tumors produce certain proteins referred to as “tumor markers” doctors generally order further testing to either confirm or eliminate the findings. Human chorionic gonadotrophin is a tumor marker for some germ cell cancers that increase levels of HCG, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and/or lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).

Other Uses for HCG

Athletic performance—HCG is used by some athletes to naturally stimulate the production of testosterone. Some individuals believe testosterone increases muscle strength and endurance, giving them an edge over opponents in competition. HCG may also be used to cover up the presence of synthetic testosterone use, banned by the World Anti-doping Agency.[5] Prolonged steroid use can also depress testosterone production and cause testicles to shrink. Some athletes use HCG in an attempt to reverse these negative effects.

Weight loss—Much has been written about the positive effects of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss.

How does HCG help with weight loss?

While the HCG hormone was identified in the 1920’s it wasn’t until the 1950’s that an endocrinologist discovered its use for burning fat and resetting the body’s metabolism. When combined with a low calorie diet, (500-800 calories/day) HCG may work to eliminate fat cells rather than muscle tissue. Because excess fat is mobilized for energy and muscle mass is retained, HCG may help facilitate rapid and sustainable weight loss. HCG may also help “reset” the body’s metabolism as it aids the fat burning process. HCG is thought to work further by suppressing the body’s natural appetite while on a low calorie diet.

Why does HCG work to help with weight loss?

HCG plays a critical role during pregnancy by triggering the body to mobilize fat stores in the mother to help nourish the baby and maintain the pregnancy. Synthetic use of HCG essentially mimics this same process by utilizing stored fat for energy, while on a calorie-restricted diet.

Benefits of HCG in Weight Loss

HCG may support weight loss in the following ways:

  • Suppresses appetite
  • Helps maintain energy while dieting
  • Helps reshape the body by helping burn belly fat
  • Increases metabolism
  • Helps maintain muscle retention
  • Helps eliminate feelings of fatigue and illness during calorie-restrictive period

Side Effects With HCG

While many people never experience a negative reaction or discomfort from HCG use, there have been reports of the following:

  • Mild bloating
  • Pelvic and stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Acne
  • Ovarian pain (those with a history of polycystic ovaries)
  • Breast tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Fluid buildup (edema)
  • Swelling of the breasts, boys and men (gynecomastia)
  • Blood clots forming (thromboembolism)[2]

Side effects from a calorie-restricted diet may include:

  • Headaches
  • Feeling light headed
  • Bloating/water retention
  • Irritability

*Redness or swelling may occur at the site of injection.

HCG—Why is it controversial?

Since the 1950’s and the advent of Dr. Simeon’s HCG Diet Protocol (which followed a low-calorie diet and daily HCG injections) there has been much controversy over the efficacy of human chorionic gonadotrophin for weight loss. Many physicians have seen positive results in patients unable to lose and maintain weight loss any other way. Still, others are skeptical about the research, maintaining that a low-calorie diet would yield similar results without HCG. At this time, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved human chorionic gonadotrophin for weight loss, or the treatment of obesity.[6]


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