Placental hormone

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Placental hormone

Properties

The placental hormone (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, HCG) is present in the mother’s body during pregnancy. Its structure and effect resemble the luteinizing hormone (LH) that is secreted from the pituitary gland.

The physiological purpose of the placental hormone during pregnancy is to maintain the pregnancy by stimulating the secretion of progesterone, and as a smaller effect, also estradiol. In adult men it has no physiological purpose.

Medical use

The placental hormone in medical form is used in fertility treatments for women, usually as a single injection (the dose is 5.000 to 10,000 international units).

For men, the placental hormone can be used medically for fertility and delayed puberty treatments because the placental hormone stimulates testosterone production in testicles. In medical use, the doses of placental hormone for men are 1,000 to 2,000 international units, 2 to 3 times per week for 3 to 12 months.

Abuse

The placental hormone is a doping substance according to the Decree 705/2002 that defines the doping substances that are to be regarded as doping substances referred to in Chapter 44, §16, Subsection 1 of the Penal Code.

By using the placental hormone, people who abuse anabolic steroids aim to prevent the decrease in hormones caused by the steroid cure and to restart their body’s testosterone production [1, 2].

On the other hand, the placental hormone is thought to have a moderate anabolic (muscle-growth and strength increasing) effect. It increases the testosterone secretion in testicles in a way similar to the body’s own luteinizing hormone.

Adverse effects

Adverse effects of placental hormone can include hormonal disturbances [3]. Therefore placental hormone should be administered only under the supervision of a medical specialist or a doctor that works in a hospital specializing in the field.

For women, the placental hormone increases the risk of having multiple pregnancies. If a man getting placental hormone treatment has latent or overt cardiac failure, renal failure, epilepsy or migraines, the patient is to be monitored closely because increased androgen production can cause the worsening of these conditions or their activation.

Other possible adverse effects are swelling, breast tenderness (also in men), and in some cases deep-vein thrombosis [4].

Timo Seppälä
Medical Director
The Finnish Antidoping Agency FINADA

[1] Karila, Hovatta & Seppälä (2004): Concomitant abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids and human chorion gonadotropin impairs spermatogenesis in power athletes. International Journal of Sports Medicine 25: 257–263.

[2] Stenman, Hotakainen & Alfthan (2008): Gonadotropins in doping: pharmacological basis and detection of illicit use. British Journal of Pharmacology 154(3): 569–83.

[3] Binder, Dittrich, Einhaust, Krieg, Müller, Strauss, Beckmann & Cupisti (2007): Update on ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome: part 2--clinical signs and treatment. International Journal of Fertility and Women’s Medicine 52(2–3): 69–81.

[4] Thorsson, Christiansen & Ritzén (2007): Efficacy and safety of hormonal treatment of cryptorchidism: current state of the art. Acta Paediatrica 96(5): 628–30.



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