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β-hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a glycoprotein that is initially secreted by trophoblast cells in the embryo shortly after it implants in the uterus. The rapid increase in serum levels of hCG following conception means it is an excellent early indicator of pregnancy. It’s also a parameter which is widely used for monitoring that a pregnancy is progressing correctly.
On a physiological level, hCG triggers the corpus luteum and thus facilitates progesterone and oestrogen synthesis. Progesterone stimulates the maturing of blood and capillary vessels that help the foetus to develop correctly.
hCG levels can be measured in blood or in urine.
Urine tests have a detection limit of 20 to 100 mUI/ml depending on the brand. If the measurement is to be taken in urine, a sample of the first urine of the day is recommended. This is particularly true during the early days of pregnancy because, if the urine is too diluted, the test can return incorrect negative results.
hCG levels in blood can be used to detect levels as low as 5 mUI/ml and the concentration levels of the hormone can therefore be calculated.
hCG levels in multiple pregnancies are 30-50 % higher than in pregnancies where there is only one foetus. However, a multiple pregnancy should be confirmed by means of an ultrasound.
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Numerous factors are involved in making the amazing miracle of pregnancy possible. Many of them are very well understood whilst others, such as the immune system and its role in embryo implantation, given their importance, are still being studied and researched in depth. If the immune system is what protects the body against infection and diseases thanks to its defences, what role does it play in achieving pregnancy? […]
It has long been known that patients who are overweight face increased reproduction and pregnancy loss issues.
Issues achieving a successful pregnancy are even greater if, as well as being obese, the patient also has illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid issues or other metabolic disorders (refer to further information on endocrinology and pregnancy).
However, little was known about the direct effect of obesity on endometrial receptivity and successful or unsuccessful embryo implantation. […]
Prolactin is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland and although it also forms part of the stress hormone circuit, it plays a vital role in breast development during pregnancy and the production of breast milk after giving birth.
Abnormally high levels of prolactin, which is referred to as hyperprolactinemia, causes disruptions in the normal menstrual cycle, anovulatory cycles, infertility and the production and spontaneous flow of breast milk in women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding a baby. […]
One of the most frequently asked questions among couples is how to calculate the most fertile days of the cycle and when ovulation will take place in order to make this coincide with sexual intercourse. Calculating it is simple in the case of regular, 28-day cycles. […]
Ovarian stimulation is key in results obtained as a results of assisted reproduction techniques. Daily clinical practice shows us that ovarian response can vary substantially from one woman to another. With this in mind, we can diagnose a patient as a poor responder when three eggs or less are obtained.
This situation affects more and more women every day. They require specialised healthcare and personalised protocols and, in response to this need, Instituto Bernabeu has a Poor Ovarian Response Unit that deals with multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment.
For patients under this category, obtaining one or more eggs can mean the difference between failure and pregnancy and this makes any steps taken to increase the number of available eggs absolutely essential. […]
It has been almost 30 years since the first pregnancy from cryopreserved embryos was achieved (Trounson and Mohr, 1983). Ever since then, numbers have been steadily growing at biobanks in assisted reproduction centres, mainly due to the optimisation of reproductive treatments. Our goal is to retrieve a satisfactory amount of good quality embryos (one that is enough for a fresh transfer and also for cryopreservation) by means of an ovarian stimulation cycle. These embryos may be used for future pregnancy attempts, although couples can choose to donate them for reproductive purposes, assign them to specific research projects or dispose of them. Yet, general evidence shows that many couples, mainly those that achieve pregnancy in their first fresh attempt, choose to keep them frozen without a specific end or plan in mind for the future. […]
The Rafael Bernabeu Foundation, the social welfare foundation at Instituto Bernabeu, has been working towards helping to improve health, well-being and financial conditions in society since 2007. Support programmes for patients with financial difficulties, scholarships and long-term support for various NGOs and academic and medical institutions are just some examples of the work which is carried out “as part of our commitment to the people of Alicante.” To the company, “social responsibility is a must.”
The foundation was set up at almost the same time as Instituto Bernabeu in Alicante. Whilst work went on in the reproduction and fertility clinic, the needs of the local population surrounding the medical group as it grew and became more consolidated became clear. It was the company’s closest reality, its closest community, the people who could potentially one day walk past one of the groups newest branches. IB began donating part of its financial resources and this increased as the institution grew. Along with the company’s growth and strength came the decision to provide this giving spirit, which had been active for many years, with a more formal structure. The Rafael Bernabeu Foundation was born in the cold month of January 2007 with the aim of providing different causes and adverse circumstances with warmth and solutions.
“Our patients and everyone in the IB team are participants in this support aimed at the very same society which has enabled us to grow and to which we wish to return the favour,” says the Rafael Bernabeu Foundation. Since it was set up, its work, donations and activities have grown and centred around three core areas: health, training and financial support for NGOs. […]
When couples make the decision to have a baby, either by natural means or by resorting to assisted reproduction techniques (ART), one of their main concerns is having a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby. Miscarriage occurs in about 10-15% of pregnancies and is regarded as a “Recurrent miscarriage” when two or more pregnancies are lost spontaneously.
The cause of “Recurrent miscarriages” may be immunological, hormonal or uterine. Yet, the most common cause is no doubt chromosomal, since it is present in more than 50% of cases. […]
Couples who are seeking pregnancy and have not managed to succeed for some time must surely have asked themselves this question.
These days, reproductive problems are more common than we may think. Consulting for them should not cause any fear, embarrassment or stress. Furthermore, in many cases the first consultation will help to correct minor abnormalities and facilitate pregnancy in a short period of time and in the simplest way conceivable.
Whatever the case, the advisory guidelines below are offered to help the process of deciding when to schedule an appointment with a specialist in Reproductive Medicine:
Age: The relationship of fertility with age has been made abundantly clear. As a consequence, the older the age, the shorter we should wait to schedule a fertility appointment. For example, from age 37, seeking pregnancy for just a few months would be enough to perform an initial assessment. In general, women who are younger than 30 may wait about a year for pregnancy to occur spontaneously.