Home Pregnancy Tests
Now, You Don't Have To Wait...
You're a few days late for your period. You've been planning a pregnancy, hoping this month would be the month. You run to the pharmacy after work and find yourself faced with the dilemma of choosing a pregnancy test that will give you an accurate reading.
Today there are many sensitive pregnancy tests available at the drug store, which are often quite accurate if not taken too soon after fertilization. The cost is usually between $8.00 and $20.00 and some claim they are able to detect pregnancy very soon after conception.
How Home Pregnancy Tests Work
Home pregnancy tests work by measuring the presence of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is produced by cells from the placenta and first appears in the bloodstream when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus (often within six days of fertilization). The levels of hCG in the bloodstream double every two days after implantation, increasing rapidly as the pregnancy develops. By the time your period is due to arrive (about 14 days after fertilization), some home pregnancy tests may be able to detect the hormone in the urine and give a positive result. However, in spite of the claims, most pregnancy tests are not sensitive enough to guarantee an accurate result at this point. It is better to wait a week after your period is due to take the test. That way a more accurate result can be expected.
So, how can you determine if a test is sensitive? Read the package inserts. This should be able to tell you the lowest concentration of hCG that the test can detect. Concentration is determined in milli-International Unites per millilitre of urine. A test that claims to be able to detect hCG at 20mlU/ml should be more sensitive than one that claims to be able to detect hCG at 40mlU/ml. Even at that, these tests can be misleading because the test may not measure the hCG that is most relevant in pregnancy.
Using The Pregnancy Test
Using a home pregnancy test is relatively easy. First, check the expiry date on the box before purchasing. If you've had a kit around the house for some time, perhaps storing it in the bathroom where it can be exposed to moisture or warmth, you may want to purchase a new one. Heat and moisture can cause a pregnancy test kit to deteriorate and become invalid. For best results, take the test first thing in the morning, when the concentration of urine is the highest. Since each product varies in the way it is used, it is important to read the instructions carefully and abide by them. The results are displayed differently as well, so check to make sure you are reading the stick or apparatus correctly. Some take the guesswork out by causing a dot to change color, but not all tests work that way. If the control indicator does not show properly, the test may be faulty. Try again, and if the results are still not clear, take the kit back to the store.
What If It Is Negative And I Still Don't Have My Period?
If you have a negative result and after a few days, you still don't have your period, try the test again. Sometimes the test was taken too early to register a positive result. Whatever you do, don't assume that a negative result means you are not pregnant. If you still don't get a positive result and you haven't had your period for more than a week or two, see your doctor to find out why.