Fertility

When & How To Take A Pregnancy Test & Understanding Your Results

Updated on 10 May 2022 • 6 minute read

 

How Exactly Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

Pregnancy tests detect the hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) pregnancy hormones in your urine or blood. 

When a fertilized egg or embryo successfully implants in the uterus, your developing placenta will produce hCG. These pregnancy hormones will then alert your ovaries to stop releasing mature eggs to help keep the pregnancy. (1)

The levels of hCG hormones increase over time. That’s why it’s advised to take a pregnancy test after your missed period to ensure accurate results. (2)

 

Types Of Pregnancy Tests

Blood Pregnancy Test

This type of pregnancy test is usually done in a doctor’s office or any medical setup. A doctor or healthcare professional will take a blood sample and do a qualitative blood test or a quantitative blood test. (3)

 

Qualitative Blood Test

The keyword is “quality,” so this test focuses on determining whether hCG hormones are present in your blood or not. (3)

 

Quantitative Blood Test

The keyword is “quantity.” This type of blood test measures the exact amount of hCG hormones in your blood. Also called a beta hCG test, it also tells your doctor how many weeks you are into your pregnancy. (3)

 

Urine Pregnancy Test

A urine test can be done at home or in a doctor’s office. Most over-the-counter pregnancy test kits claim to be 99% accurate. 

 

Before taking a home test:

1. Check the expiration date. 

2. Follow the instructions as listed since there are different types of home pregnancy tests that require:

  • Holding the test stick under your urine stream
  • Collecting your urine in a cup and dipping the test stick in it, or
  • Collecting your urine in a cup, then using a dropper to put a small amount of urine into the test stick

3. Test your first urine in the morning.

4. Wait for at least ten minutes before checking.

5. Some at-home pregnancy test kits claim to detect pregnancy hormones even before your missed period. But waiting after a missed period gives more accurate results. (4)

 

Home Pregnancy Test Vs. Blood Test

Home Pregnancy Tests Are:

  • Convenient to use at home.
  • 99% accurate.
  • Easy to use.
  • Provide quick results.
  • Inexpensive.

 

Blood Tests Are:

  • More expensive.
  • Can only be done by a healthcare provider in a medical setup.
  • Required in case a home pregnancy test shows unclear results.

 

How Soon Can I Test For Pregnancy?

Test for pregnancy as soon as you missed your period. Waiting until then can provide more accurate results. (4)

 

What To Prepare For A Pregnancy Test

No special preparations are needed before taking a pregnancy test, neither by urine nor blood. 

 

Can A Pregnancy Test Be Wrong?

Yes. It’s possible to get false positive and false negative results in a pregnancy test. 

 

Factors That Causes A False Negative Result

  1. User Mistakes – Closely follow the instructions as listed.
  2. Ovulation Time – Every woman has different ovulation times in their menstrual cycle.
  3. Timing – Take a pregnancy test after your missed period to get accurate results.

 

Can You Have A Positive Test And Not Be Pregnant?

Yes. Some factors contribute to a false-positive result, including: (5)

 

User Mistakes

  1. Make sure to follow instructions correctly.
  2. Use your first urine in the morning. That’s when the hCG levels are most concentrated. (5)
  3. Avoid drinking lots of water before taking the test because this can dilute your hCG levels. (5)
  4. Wait until you missed your period before taking a test.

 

Chemical Pregnancy

This happens when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but doesn’t take hold. Since implantation occurred, your body still produces hCG hormones even if the pregnancy didn’t progress. (5)

 

Recent Abortion Or Miscarriage 

hCG levels go down around 9-35 days after an abortion or miscarriage. Taking a pregnancy test during these days can cause a false-positive result. (5)

 

Fertility Medications

Fertility drugs and medications can include hCG. That’s why it’s advised to take a pregnancy test 1-2 weeks after the last session of your fertility treatment to get an accurate pregnancy test result. (5)

 

Medical Conditions

Kidney problems, urinary tract infections, pituitary disorders, ovarian cysts or cancer, and other diseases may increase the levels of hCG in your urine. (5)

Consult a doctor if you’ve ruled out other causes but still get a positive test result. A blood test may be done to ensure accuracy.

 

How To Read Home Pregnancy Test Results

Depending on the type of home pregnancy test kit you use, results may show a line, color, or symbols. You will get the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant” if you’re using a digital test kit.

 

Positive Test Result

False-positive results are rare, so you are most likely pregnant if you get a positive result. You may want to call your healthcare provider as soon as you get a positive test result to ensure your and your baby’s wellness. (6)

 

Negative Test Result

If your test result shows that you’re not pregnant, but you suspect that you are, wait a few days before taking another test. 

If you keep getting negative pregnancy test results but your period doesn’t begin, and you still think that you may be pregnant, get in touch with a healthcare professional

Numerous factors can cause a missed period, including ovary disorders, thyroid problems, hormonal imbalance, or stress. Consulting a healthcare professional can help you regulate your menstrual cycle if you’re not pregnant. (7)

 

Mixed Results

If you took multiple pregnancy tests and got mixed results, schedule a visit to your health care provider. They may suggest a blood test or ultrasound confirmation.

 

Pregnancy Test FAQs

 

How Would I Know If I’m Pregnant Without Taking A Test?

Early signs of pregnancy like tender breasts, mood swings, tiredness, and a missed period are telling signs. Although the first three can be associated with PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms, a missed period can be a clear indication of early pregnancy. (8)

Taking a pregnancy test is still best to confirm.

 

Can A Pregnancy Test Detect At 1 Week?

A pregnancy test can detect hCG hormones ten days after conception. For more accurate results, it’s medically advised to wait at least until the first day of your missed period or a week later. (4)

 

Do I Need Prescription For Home Pregnancy Test Kit?

No. Over-the-counter pregnancy test kits are available in a drugstore and do not require a prescription. 

 

Which Medicines Affect Pregnancy Test Results?

Most over-the-counter and prescription medications typically don’t interfere with pregnancy test results. (9) 

On the other hand, fertility medications with hCG can. (5) 

 

What Time Of Day Is Best To Take A Pregnancy Test?

Take a pregnancy test using your first urine in the morning when the hCG levels are most concentrated. (5)

 

Are There Risks In Using A Home Pregnancy Test?

Pregnancy tests, even home pregnancy test kits are safe and risk-free. (10)

 

Which Home Pregnancy Test Is Most Accurate?

According to the USA hCG Reference Service data, here are the most accurate over-the-counter home pregnancy test kits available in the market today: (11)

 

First Response Early Result

Product Features:

  • Detects hCG levels as early as six days before your missed period
  • 99% accurate
  • Shows results in three minutes
  • $23.99 (3-pack) from CVS

 

Clearblue Early Detection

Product Features:

  • Detects hCG levels as early as six days before your missed period
  • 99% accurate
  • Shows results in three minutes
  • $18.79 (2-pack) from CVS

 

Fact Plus Select

Product Features:

  • Detects hCG levels as early as five days before your missed period
  • 99% accurate
  • Shows results in two minutes
  • $21.55 (3-pack) from Walmart

 

Accu-Clear

Product Features:

  • Detects hCG levels as early as five days before your missed period
  • 99% accurate
  • Shows results in two minutes
  • $12.95 (2-pack) from Amazon

 

What To Do Next After Getting A Positive Pregnancy Test

Call a healthcare professional after getting a positive pregnancy test result. The sooner, the better to get proper prenatal care and ensure a healthy pregnancy. 

Also, consider taking your prenatal vitamins, vitamin D3, and fish oil supplements if you aren’t doing so already. 

Learn more about prenatal care and what to expect on your pregnancy journey here.

 

What Are The 10 Signs Of Pregnancy?

The ten most common pregnancy symptoms are:

  1. Missed period
  2. Light bleeding or implantation bleeding
  3. Morning sickness
  4. Frequent urination
  5. Tender breasts
  6. Fatigue & sleepiness
  7. Constipation
  8. Mood swings
  9. Raised body temperature
  10. Increased heart rate

 

Most early signs of pregnancy ease up after the first trimester. Read more about pregnancy symptoms here.

 

Other Things To Know About Pregnancy Tests Results

While at-home pregnancy tests provide numerous advantages in confirming a pregnancy, only a blood test can determine the exact amount of hCG hormones. A low amount of these pregnancy hormones could mean an ectopic pregnancy. (2)

This type of pregnancy happens when the fertilized egg or the embryo implants outside the uterus. 90% of the time, this occurs in a fallopian tube. As the pregnancy progresses, the tube could rupture, leading to internal bleeding that could be life-threatening.

If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor if you experience spotting or light bleeding accompanied by extreme pain on one side of your lower abdomen. (5)

 

 

 

References:

(1) https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw42062

(2) https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/hcg-levels/

(3) https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/tests/hcgblood-testquantitative

(4) Food and Drug Administration https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/home-use-tests/pregnancy

(5) https://www.thesource.org/post/reasons-your-pregnancy-test-gave-a-false-positive

(6) https://www.availnyc.org/false-positive-pregnancy-test

(7) https://vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu/9-reasons-missed-period/

(8) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pre-menstrual-syndrome/

(9) https://prestonwoodpregnancy.org/affect-pregnancy-test-result/

(10) https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness/health-encyclopedia/he.home-pregnancy-tests.hw227606#hw227617

(11) https://www.japha.org/article/S1544-3191(15)31630-7/pdf

 

 

 

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