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The hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (better known as hCG) is produced during pregnancy. It is made by cells formed in the placenta, which nourishes the egg after it has been fertilised and becomes attached to the uterine wall.

The hormone starts to be produced around six days after fertilisation and can usually be detected 10 days after a missed menstrual period. As this hormone is produced in high quantity during pregnancy a blood test is the most accurate way to confirm if you are pregnant and help get a general idea of how far along you might be.