Things to Know About the Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy Tests

If you are experiencing any of the pregnancy symptoms, you should take a home pregnancy test or visit your doctor to confirm pregnancy.

You’ll likely get accurate results from the pregnancy test the day after you first missed your period. However, it’s best to wait at least a week after your missed period to ensure you get the most accurate test results.

home pregnancy tests

A home pregnancy test (HPT) can be used on the first day of your missed period. Some very sensitive tests can also be used before.

These tests work by detecting the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in your urine. This hormone is present in the body only during pregnancy. A chemical in the stick changes color when it comes into contact with this hormone. Wait times will vary depending on the test, but for most people it will take around 10 minutes for an accurate result.

Most manufacturers recommend taking HPTs twice, as results may vary if you take a test very soon after your first missed period. In some cases, your hCG levels are too low to be caught early. Applicators differ from brand to brand, but tests are usually inexpensive.

Pregnancy tests are usually accurate when used correctly. In some cases, it’s possible to falsely test negative when pregnant, but the test can tell you’re not pregnant. If your period is late and doesn’t come back after a few days, repeat the test or check with your doctor.

clinical urine test

You can do a clinical urine test in a hospital. These tests are not necessarily more accurate than an HPT. However, your doctor can help rule out potential errors that could affect the accuracy of the test. Depending on your health insurance plan, a clinical urine test may cost more than an HPT.

The results of a clinical urine test may vary depending on the medical facility you visit. However, you will usually have your results within a week of taking the test.

Blood test

These tests are done in a hospital setting. A lab tests your blood to detect hCG.

There are two types of pregnancy blood tests:

  • Qualitative hCG blood test: This test checks if any hCG is produced in the body. It gives a simple yes or no answer to whether you are pregnant or not.
  • Quantitative hCG blood test: This test measures the level of specific hCG in the blood.

If your hCG level is higher or lower than expected based on how far along you think you are in pregnancy, your doctor may order more tests. They may include an ultrasound or repeat the hCG test in a few days. The most common reason for your hCG level to appear abnormal is because you are unsure of your dates. This means that you are going further in pregnancy.

Quantitative hCG blood tests are very accurate because they measure the exact amount of hCG in the blood. They can detect smaller amounts of hormones than a qualitative hCG blood test or urine test.

Blood tests can detect hCG earlier than urine tests. Blood tests are generally more expensive than home tests and you will have to wait longer for your results. It may take more than a week and sometimes two weeks for blood test results to be available.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

Some signs of pregnancy are noticed early, especially including:

  • delayed menstrual period
  • feeling tired
  • urinating more than usual
  • tender, swollen breasts
  • nausea
  • vomiting

If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor, especially if you’ve had unprotected sex recently.

If the Results Are Positive, What’s the Next Step?

Your next steps depend on two things: whether you are pregnant and whether you plan to become pregnant.

How To Doctor Check Pregnancy First Time - Pregnancy Test Work

If your test results are positive and you are planning to have a baby, do another test (or two) to make sure you are pregnant. Then, check with your doctor before you reach the 8-week mark. You can ask them about prenatal care options or specialists who can guide you through your pregnancy. Ask your doctor about any changes you need to make in your lifestyle, medication or diet to keep yourself and your baby healthy for the next nine months.

If your test results are positive but you are not planning to become pregnant, you can ask your doctor about the options available, including:

  • terminating your pregnancy
  • planning to adopt after giving birth
  • What to do if you want to continue your pregnancy

You can also get help from a clinic or health center that specializes in reproductive health and child care .

false positive

A false positive can occur for several reasons:

  • chemical pregnancy, in which your pregnancy ends shortly after the egg attaches to your uterine lining
  • menopause
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • ovarian problems such as cysts

Consult your doctor if you suspect any of these factors may have given you a false positive result.

What is the Next Step if the Results Are Negative?

If your test results are negative but you want to have a baby, you should keep trying to get pregnant. Also, be sure to start taking folic acid supplements if you haven’t already. Depending on your menstrual cycle, always use an ovulation calculator or track your cycle on a calendar to decide what are the best times to get pregnant.

If you have been trying to conceive for a long time, consider taking a fertility test or asking your partner for a fertility test. It can reveal whether you both have fertility issues that affect your ability to get pregnant. If you are infertile, consider other options for getting pregnant, such as artificial insemination.

If your test results are negative and you are not planning to become pregnant, do a second test to make sure the results are correct. If you took the test because you were worried you might get pregnant after unprotected sex, be sure to use the necessary birth control to avoid fear of future pregnancy.

If your results are negative, but you’re experiencing pregnancy symptoms such as a missed period, see your doctor to see if another condition is causing your symptoms. Symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and vomiting are common to other conditions. Heavy exercise or excessive stress can also cause delayed menstrual periods.

false negative

A false negative can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

If you are taking certain medications such as tranquilizers or anticonvulsants.

If you do the test when your urine is diluted from food and fluid intake. Take the test in the morning when your urine is the least diluted.

If you take the test too early after a missed period. Taking the test a few days to a week after a missed period will usually give you the most accurate results.

If you haven’t waited long enough after taking the test. If you are using an HPT, follow the instructions to make sure you allow enough time for the test to yield results.

Summary

Home pregnancy tests are generally very accurate and usually give adequate results if you follow their instructions. However, you should have blood or urine tests done to confirm what you think is false positive or negative.

Depending on the results, talk to your doctor or partner about your next step. Pregnancy is an exciting time for many women. Regardless of your next step, learn as much as you can about how to take care of yourself and your health.

Healthline, Tests Used to Confirm Pregnancy, 2017

References

  • Find a health center. (n)
  • I think I might be pregnant… (2009, March)
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, December 2). Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results? Retrieved from
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, June 21). Intrauterine insemination (IUI): Overview
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, June 16). Symptoms of pregnancy: What happens first
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, October 19). Urinalysis: Overview
  • Ovulation calendar: How to track ovulation. (n)
  • Pregnancy test. (n)
  • Understanding ovulation. (2016, October 10)

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