What is HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin)?
HCG is a hormone which is produced by cells in the placenta by women during pregnancy. It is a hormone that supports the normal development of an egg in a woman’s ovaries, and stimulates the release of the egg during ovulation.
To use it as a medicine, HCG is either extracted from the urine of pregnant women or produced from cultures of genetically modified cells using recombinant DNA technology.
What is HCG used for?
HCG is used to stimulate ovulation and to treat infertility in women, and to increase sperm count in men.
The main use of HCG is in women who are undergoing IVF treatment, it increases the likelihood of pregnancy. As a side effect it also increases the likelihood of twins when the women takes this medication as it is more likely that more than one egg will be fertilised.
Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin is also used in rare cases with young boys when their testicles have not dropped down into the scrotum normally, or when puberty is delayed.
Men who are on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) sometimes take HCG to restore the size of their testicles to their pre-TRT level, and to increase their fertility if they are planning to have children in the near future (read about this in our fertility article here).
Why take it alongside TRT?
HCG has three main reasons for being taken alongside TRT.
1. It maintains a man’s fertility (as long as he is fertile in the first place and has no damage to his testicles).
HCG replaces the action of LH (luteinising hormone) and stimulates sperm production in the testicles. Most men are fertile with the addition of HCG only, others may want to use HMG (which also replicates FSH) for further fertility improvements.
2. It maintains the function of the testicles, ensuring that the testicles continue to produce testosterone.
This is important in case a man needs to stop TRT for some reason in the future. It ensures that he will maintain some testosterone production without supplementing.
It also means that testosterone levels are higher in general as the natural production of testosterone continues alongside the testosterone medication. Some men can even use HCG on its own for testosterone production, although this is less commonly effective.
3. It allows other hormones to be produced which are important for health and well-being.
HCG maintains other hormone pathways through the production of pregnenolone. These are lost when men suppress their LH and FSH production. These less well known hormones allow for mood and libido improvements.
Downsides of HCG?
As with most medications, some men do notice side effects from HCG use. Most of these side effects are due to the production of hormones in higher levels than expected.
The most common of these is that HCG increases oestrogen too highly and this causes oestrogen related side effects such as anxiety, nipple itchiness, low libido and fatigue.
Luckily, this is often prevented or resolved by splitting the dose into more frequent, smaller doses of the compound or reducing the dose slightly.
HCG is a must-have for most men on TRT.
It is recommended by the top TRT doctors for maintaining fertility, testosterone production, testicular function and for its added well-being benefits from its regulation of other hormonal pathways.
Optimale can provide HCG with all treatments options as well as monotherapy for those who are concerned about suppressing their own production.
Dr Chris Airey
This article has been medically reviewed for accuracy by Dr Airey on 12th September 2020.
Dr Chris Airey is a fully registered UK doctor with the GMC (General Medical Council) Reference No: 7490533.
He trained at the University Hospital Southampton and graduated as a Doctor with a joint Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery, plus a Masters in Medical Science, completing his research project in the Medical Neurosciences Department.
He is undertaking a Master of Science course in Endocrinology and is a member of the European Society for Sexual Medicine, and the Androgen Society.
He has personal experience with taking Testosterone Replacement Therapy and is a pioneer in UK treatment protocols for Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome.
- Coviello, A.D., Matsumoto, A.M., Bremner, W.J., et al. (2005) Low-dose human chorionic gonadotropin maintains intratesticular testosterone in normal men with testosterone-induced gonadotropin suppression. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 90(5):2595-2602.
- Hsieh, T.C., Pastuszak, A.W., Hwang, K., Lipshultz, L.I. (2013) Concomitant intramuscular human chorionic gonadotropin preserves spermatogenesis in men undergoing testosterone replacement therapy. J Urol. 189(2):647-650.