Home pregnancy test
If you believe that you could be pregnant, a home pregnancy test can help you determine whether or not you may be pregnant. It is fairly simple to use a home pregnancy test, but it is essential that you thoroughly read the directions that come with the test. This is because the accuracy of the home pregnancy test results rests on how well you follow the directions and interpret the results. Everything you need to know about how they work, the earliest you can try them, and how to make sure you're doing it right.
How do home pregnancy tests work?
Home pregnancy tests measure the presence of a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. This hormone, produced by cells from the placenta, first enters your bloodstream after the fertilized egg (the embryo) implants in the lining of your uterus, shortly after fertilization. The amount of hCG in your body then increases rapidly over the next few weeks, often doubling every two days or so.
How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
Home pregnancy tests (HPTs) can be quite accurate. But the accuracy depends on:
- How you use them — Be sure to check the expiration date and follow the instructions. Wait ten minutes after taking the test to check the results window. Research suggests that waiting 10 minutes will give the most accurate result.
- When you use them — The amount of hCG or pregnancy hormone in your urine increases with time. So, the earlier after a missed period you take the test, the harder it is to spot the hCG. Many HPTs claim to be 99 percent accurate on the first day of your missed period. But research suggests that most HPTs do not always detect the low levels of hCG usually present this early in pregnancy. And when they do, the results are often very faint. Most HPTs can accurately detect pregnancy one week after a missed period. Also, testing your urine first thing in the morning may boost the accuracy.
- Who uses them — Each woman ovulates at a different time in her menstrual cycle. Plus, the fertilized egg can implant in a woman’s uterus at different times. hCG only is produced once implantation occurs. In up to 10 percent of women, implantation does not occur until after the first day of a missed period. So, HPTs will be accurate as soon as one day after a missed period for some women but not for others.
- The brand of test — Some HPTs are more sensitive than others. So, some tests are better than others at spotting hCG early on.
How to use Home Pregnancy Tests at Home?
Read the instructions carefully. Although most home urine tests are pretty much the same, it is important to follow manufacturers' instructions. Specifics may vary for each pregnancy test, such as the method of collecting the urine, the length of time you need to urinate on the stick for and the symbols used to indicate whether you're pregnant or not.
Take urine sample: Sit on the toilet and urinate either on the testing stick or into the small plastic cup provided, depending on the type of test. You should try to use a midstream sample, which means you should pee a little first before you collect any urine in the cup or insert the stick. If you need to urinate directly on the stick, make sure to follow the instructions carefully. With some tests, you need to urinate on the stick for a very specific time, for example exactly 5 seconds, no more no less. Use a stop watch to help you time it, if necessary. When urinating on the stick, make sure to place the absorbent end of the stick into the urine stream and turn it so that the display window faces upwards.
Use the dropper to place a small amount of urine onto the test stick. This is only required for the plastic cup method. Drop the urine into the well indicated on the stick. Alternatively, some brands require that you dip the absorbent end of the test stick into the collected urine. Hold it there for 5 to 10 seconds, or for the amount of time indicated in the instructions
Wait the stated amount of time. Place the testing stick on a clean, level surface with the result window facing up. Wait time is typically between 1 to 5 minutes, though some tests may take up to 10 minutes to give an accurate result. See the instructions to find out the required amount of time for your particular test.
Check the results. Once the amount of time stated in the instructions has passed, check the test stick for results. The symbols used to indicate whether you are pregnant or not vary from test to test, so read the instructions again if your are unsure. Most home pregnancy tests use something like a plus or minus sign, a coded color change, or the words "pregnant" or "not pregnant" on a digital display.
- If the results are positive: You should make an appointment with your doctor to have the pregnancy confirmed. This is usually done using a blood test.
- If the results are negative: Wait another week and if you still haven't started your period you should do the test again. False negatives are fairly common, especially if you miscalculated your ovulation date and took the test too soon. This is why many home pregnancy tests come with two test sticks. If the second test comes back negative, make an appointment with your doctor to find out if there is some other problem affecting your menstruation or causing symptoms of pregnancy.
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