HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG) is frequently referred to as the pregnancy hormone due to the high levels of it that pregnant women have. This hormone is produced during the early stages of pregnancy and its production is done by the cells which eventually make up the placenta.

What Is HCG Trigger Shot?

There is an hCG trigger shot that has a synthetic version of the hormone hCG and this is sometimes used as part of a fertility treatment for women trying to conceive. Some health insurances will cover the cost of the injection while others will not and it usually costs $35 to $75.

You can get the hCG trigger shot with a prescription and it will be either unmixed or pre-mixed. You may get Novarel, Profasi, Pregnyl, Ovidrel, or a generic version and your doctor will prescribe somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 IU of the medication. You should always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly both for mixing and injecting the drug.

Why Is It Needed?

HCG not only assists the follicles in maturing, but it also triggers mature eggs so they release from the follicles. Most of the time your doctor will give you a medication that induces ovulation (such as HMG or Clomid) and then take the trigger shot. When you take the shot, it will help complete the eggs’ maturation process and make sure they are released.

Your doctor will monitor you closely if you take the hCG trigger shot. You will have regular ultrasounds to look at the developing follicles so the doctor can see if the eggs are “ready.” Once the follicles are mature, your doctor will give you the shot and instructions on when and how to take it.  

When and How Is It Administered?

You can get the hCG shot administered by a professional at your doctor’s office or do it yourself at home. It can be injected subcutaneously in the thigh or belly or intramuscularly. The process is not painful at all.

The most important part of the shot is the timing as ovulation will probably happen between 12 and 48 hours after you are injected with the shot. This time frame represents your peak fertile time so it is when insemination, egg harvesting, or timed intercourse needs to take place. Your doctor can give you specific instructions on when you should take the trigger shot so that any fertility procedures can be scheduled for the most precise time.

What to Expect

Your body will receive the final signal for egg maturation and ovulation after you receive the shot. It is possible that you will have slight bleeding or cramping during ovulation and you should not be alarmed. Insemination or timed intercourse should ideally take place between 12 and 36 hours after taking the shot. The ideal is to have multiple rounds of intercourse or insemination as this will increase the chances of conception.

When the hCG Trigger Shot Is Successful

In cases where the hCG trigger shot is successful, it will induce the final maturation and then ovulation of the eggs. If this occurs with insemination or intercourse that is timed correctly, the egg may become fertilized. It is important to remember, however, that the hCG within the trigger shot will stay in your urine for 7 to 10 days so you may get a false positive on a home pregnancy test. Because of this, most doctors will wait at least two weeks to give you a blood test designed to test for hCG levels. By this point, the trigger shot should no longer affect the results.

Possible Side Effects

HCG is a natural hormone that the body produces during pregnancy and because of this, most of the potential side effects of the trigger shot are very similar to those related to early pregnancy. Common side effects include mild abdominal cramps, swelling, breast tenderness and nausea. In some cases, the hCG trigger shot will also result in more than one egg maturing and being released and this can lead to an increased chance of multiple births. You should always talk with your doctor about these risks before you take the trigger shot and keep in mind that in some cases selective reduction might be necessary so you can have a live birth with a healthy child.

Will HCG Trigger Shot Affect Results of Pregnancy Tests?

As mentioned earlier, the nature of the hCG trigger shot means that it will in fact affect the results of your pregnancy test. Therefore, you should avoid taking a home pregnancy test within a few days of having the trigger shot as you may get a false positive result. Experts estimate that the hCG from the trigger shot may stay in your body to some extent for up to two weeks. Because of this, most doctors recommend that you wait two weeks before taking a pregnancy test at home.

In the blood test, your doctor can also use a quantitative beta hCG test which will determine whether your levels of hCG are increasing. If they are indeed increasing, this will indicate pregnancy. If, on the other hand, they are decreasing, this will indicate that the heightened levels are simply due to the trigger shot.

Some women prefer to take a pregnancy test every day after receiving the hCG trigger shot until they no longer get a positive result. This allows them to know when the drug is sufficiently out of their system, but it still will not guarantee that you get accurate test results when checking for pregnancy.