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The HCG level starts very low, but the concentration rapidly increases in the following days to produce physical pregnancy signs in the woman.

HCG levels also provide the basis for detecting a pregnancy with a pregnancy test. This is why early pregnancy signs do not become noticeable until around the time the woman's next period would have been due - or 12 to 14 days after the moment of fertilisation.

In many cases, a woman will not notice any signs until one or two weeks after her period was due, which is technically when she is five or six weeks pregnant and the HCG level is sufficicently high enough to affect her body.

Women pregnant with twins or triplets may notice their pregnancy signs are more intense and noticed earlier on because they have higher levels of HCG in their system.

Other hormones beside HCG increase during pregnancy too, mainly progesterone and some oestrogen, which contribute to many of the early physical signs of pregnancy. These hormones are not tested for with pregnancy tests.

Hormones and Pregnancy Symptoms