Women produce the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) during pregnancy. As a medical treatment, synthetic hCG is used to treat infertility and other hormone-related conditions. hCG is sometimes used in the treatment of hypogonadism to offset some of the side effects of testosterone treatment.

hCG is classified as a drug, so it requires a prescription and cannot be sold legally over the counter. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any hCG products (prescription or dietary supplement) for weight loss regardless of what you might see or hear. In addition, FDA states, “HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.

Adverse events related to hCG reported to FDA include cases of pulmonary embolism, depression, cerebrovascular issues, cardiac arrest, and death. For more information, read FDA’s “hCG Diet Products Are Illegal” and “Questions and Answers on hGC Products for Weight Loss.”

 

Updated 11 March 2019

References

https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/InVitroDiagnostics/HomeUseTests/ucm126067.htm

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/017067s057lbl.pdf

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm281333.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/MedicationHealthFraud/ucm281834.htm

Paulesu, Rao, Ietta, Pietropolli, Ticconi. “HCG and Its Disruption by Environmental Contaminants during Human Pregnancy.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 19, no. 3, 2018, p. 914., doi: 10.3390/ijms19030914.

Bagchus, Wolna, Uhl. “Single-Dose Pharmacokinetic Study Comparing the Pharmacokinetics of Recombinant Human Chorionic Gonadotropin in Healthy Japanese and Caucasian Women and Recombinant Human Chorionic Gonadotropin and Urinary Human Chorionic Gonadotropin in Healthy Japanese.” Reproductive Medicine and Biology, vol. 17, no. 1, 2017, pp. 52–58., doi:10.1002/rmb2.12066.

Neill BC, Bahr NC, Bryan Z, Aires DJ. “Cutaneous Infection with Mycobacterium Fortuitum after Subcutaneous Injection of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin.” Dermatology Online Journal, vol. 23, no. 8, Aug. 2017, p. 4.

Crosnoe-Shipley LE, Elkelany OO, Rahnema CD, Kim ED. “Treatment of Hypogonadotropic Male Hypogonadism: Case-Based Scenarios.” World Journal of Nephrology, vol. 4, no. 2, 2015, pp. 245–253., doi:10.5527/wjn.v4.i2.245.