HCG is a protein hormone produced by the placenta that is immediately released after implantation of a fertilized egg and is required to sustain pregnancy. During the early weeks of pregnancy, HCG stimulates natural progesterone production by signaling the corpus luteum (the mass of cells that remains in the ovary after ovulation) to continue to release progesterone, which causes a woman to miss her menstrual period. Production of HCG increases steadily, doubling about every 48-72 hours, during the first 10 weeks of a healthy pregnancy.

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