HPL is a hormone that is sometimes confused with the pregnancy hormone HCG. Many people know what HCG is, but for HPL it becomes more difficult to explain where it comes from and what it is for. The hormone plays an important role in preventing the rejection of the fetus and regulates the growth of the baby. It also inhibits the production of breast milk. Is HPL detectable in the blood and what if you do not produce this hormone?
What is HPL?
HPL stands for Human Placental Lactogen and is a pregnancy hormone. HPL should not be confused with HCG: Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. HCG is the substance that a pregnancy test measures in the urine. HPL is a hormone that many people hardly know or have ever heard of. Yet it is a very important hormone.
When is it created?
This hormone is only produced after implantation, just like the HCG hormone. The HPL hormone is produced by the placenta and starts quite soon after implantation, approximately at 3.5 to 4 weeks of pregnancy. HPL is detectable in the woman’s blood at 5 weeks. Every pregnant woman produces HPL via the placenta. Without this hormone the pregnancy cannot continue. The maximum level for HPL is 5-7 mg / L. Higher values are found in multiple pregnancies.
Growth hormone and other functions
HPL fulfills a number of important functions. First, this hormone ensures that the fruit is not rejected. Half of the fertilized egg consists of non-body material: the father’s DNA. Normally, the body does not immediately reject body material or tissue. This is a logical and important survival mechanism. But during pregnancy this is exactly something we don’t want. HPL works together with HCG here. HCG also ensures that the fetus is not rejected by stopping certain processes in the body, such as the shedding of the uterine lining and menstruation.
HPL is also an important growth hormone for the unborn baby. It regulates, among other things, sugar metabolism (carbohydrates). This reduces sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that ensures that we have little or no use of fat as an energy source. Insulin therefore retains fat. The HPL hormone ensures that there is less response to insulin, which means that fat is used as an energy source. This allows the fetus to receive important nutrients necessary for growth and development. The supply of glucose to the baby is promoted by HPL. HPL also breaks down insulin in the mother so that the insulin level in the baby is maintained. The hormone is able to continue to stimulate the growth of the fetus despite malnutrition in the mother.
HPL inhibits the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is responsible for the production of breast milk. Prolactin levels tend to rise during pregnancy. This explains why pregnant women already produce a milky fluid during pregnancy. Prolactin also inhibits ovulation. HPL actually inhibits prolactin to ensure that no breast milk is produced. After delivery, HPL quickly disappears from the body and is replaced by prolactin, which initiates lactation.
Demonstrate the hormone
The hormone can say something about the growth of the baby. Yet it has not been used for a long time to demonstrate the growth and development of the baby. There are other and more reliable methods for this. There are pregnancies in which the level of the HPL hormone is so low that it could not be detected. This despite an otherwise excellent pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby.
The hormone also has a disadvantage: it is responsible for gestational diabetes. The hormone makes the body more insensitive to insulin. As a result, blood sugar levels can sometimes become very high, especially when too many carbohydrates in the form of sugar are consumed (sweets, cookies, pastries). Gestational diabetes has a number of disadvantages. For example, permanent diabetes can develop after childbirth. The baby is often a bit heavier than normal. A diet is often recommended in which carbohydrates are greatly reduced. In severe cases, insulin in the form of injections will have to be administered. Gestational diabetes can disappear completely after delivery, but follow-up monitoring is always advisable. Fortunately, midwives and doctors now regularly check their blood sugar levels in pregnant women, which means that gestational diabetes can be detected early.
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