Side Effects of hCG Injections for Infertility






October 24, 2014 by

HCG has long been used as an injection for infertility. According to the US FDA, hCG has been approved for this purpose. Another popular use for hCG has been weight-loss treatment based on a theory that was developed in the 1950s.

It is believed that it can eliminate a heavy appetite and help to redistribute fat in the body. However, recent studies have shown that it may not be as useful as first thought and actually has some serious side effects.

1. Side Effects

When hCG is used properly, women who are infertile are known to have corrections to their ovulation cycle. It has also been helpful for men who have issues with their sperm count. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome have also used hCG injections to treat this syndrome and found it effective. However, there are also some very serious side effects:


  • Blood clots
  • Injection site pain
  • Numbness
  • Confusion
  • Tingling
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

These side effects are fairly mild, but there are also more serious side effects that are possible, such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The symptoms that are usually associated with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome are abdominal pain or swelling, shortness of breath, pelvic pain, swollen hands or legs, weight gain, and gastrointestinal problems. People who use hCG for weight loss have also been known to have these issues as well.

2. Considerations

When the FDA reviews drugs, they only approve them for certain things. They also require doctors to report side effects that are seen. However, doctors sometimes prescribed drugs for things that were not intended.


Although the FDA does create warnings for the drugs, they do not create warnings for patients who use them other than how they were intended. However, the FDA will provide a warning if they believe that the drug has the possibility of endangering the public.

This occurred in 2011 when the New York Times reported that a pulmonary embolism had occurred in a patient who was trying to lose weight by taking hCG injections.

3. Prescription HCG – Infertility

If you are struggling to get pregnant, doctors will sometimes prescribed injections of hCG with drugs such as clomiphene in order to help you become pregnant faster. However, before you begin taking these injections is important that you understand the side effects that are involved with taking these injections.


Because hCG helps your ovaries release eggs, one common side effect in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. It is estimated that about 25% of women who use these injections develop some form of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Although the syndrome may last longer if you can see, is also reported that there are very few women who develop a severe form of it.

4. Prescription HCG – Diet

When you’re on an hCG diet, you’re not only at an increased risk of developing normal side effects you’re also at risk for side effects that have been created from the diet itself. This diet requires that you only eat 500 to 550 calories per day and can last between three and seven weeks.


Healthy adults are recommended to consume more than twice the amount that the diet requires you to consent, and by consuming fewer than 800 calories this means that you you are participating in an extremely low diet. This diet should only be conducted while under strict medical supervision and should not be completed at home alone.

Some doctors require certain screenings to be performed on the heart before they allow the hCG diet to be taken. This is definitely something you would want to talk to your doctor about before starting this diet especially if you have heart problems or other medical conditions.

5. Conclusion

HCG can also be found over the counter in the form of drops, lozenges, breathing capsules. However, these are not regulated by the FDA and although the FDA says the supplements are not harmful, they also say that there is no proof that they are effective.


If you are considering taking hCG injections, is important that you learn everything that you can about them before you start. Make sure that you talk to your doctor about the side effects as well as the benefits in order to learn if they are right for you. You should keep in mind that these have been used by many women to become pregnant, but that some of the side effects are potentially dangerous and you should be careful to learn everything you can about before you start.

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Valerie Wisniewski, RN

Ms. Wisniewski has over 15 years experience as a labor and delivery nurse, having also worked previously as a nurse midwife in the Philippines and India. She enjoys empowering women and providing family centered care to women from all cultural and educational backgrounds.
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