HomeGynaecology CarePregnancy Tests : When to Take One, Accuracy and Results

Pregnancy Tests : When to Take One, Accuracy and Results

What is a pregnancy test?

Pregnancy tests detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine or blood. The body produces hCG when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. This occurs approximately six days after fertilization. hCG levels rapidly climb, doubling every 2 to 3 days. 

How do pregnancy tests work?

Even with the most successful birth control methods, there is always the possibility of a slip-up. After all, only one sperm is required to fertilize an egg. A simple over-the-counter (OTC) pregnancy test confirms pregnancy. The test detects the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in the urine. Only when a woman is pregnant, hCG is present. The hormone is still released if a fertilized egg attaches outside the uterus or to the uterine lining. There are several methods for collecting urine for the test. Depending on the test, a woman may require to: 

  • Fill a cup halfway with urine and dip a testing stick into it. 
  • Collect the urine in a cup and transfer a small amount into a separate container with a dropper. 
  • Place the testing stick in the middle of the predicted urine stream to collect it in the middle of the stick.

What types of pregnancy tests are available?

Blood tests and urine tests are the two most common types of pregnancy tests.

Blood tests 

These are available at most doctor’s offices, although they aren’t as common as urine tests. These tests detect pregnancy 6 to 8 days after ovulation, earlier than a home pregnancy test. The results take longer to arrive than with a home pregnancy test.

The following are two types of blood pregnancy tests:

  • A qualitative hCG test just detects the presence of hCG. It responds to the question, “Are you pregnant?” with a “yes” or “no.” Doctors frequently order these tests to confirm pregnancy after ten days following conception. Some tests can detect hCG much earlier than others.
  • A quantitative hCG test (beta hCG) determines the amount of hCG present in the blood. It can detect the lowest amounts of hCG. These tests may aid in the detection of issues during pregnancy. They may be in conjunction with other tests to rule out an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, or a miscarriage, where hCG levels drop rapidly.

Urine test

Urine test can be taken at home or at the doctor’s office.

How accurate are pregnancy tests?

Home pregnancy tests are not only private and convenient but are also quick and easy to use. If you follow the instructions, they are also quite accurate. All these pregnancy tests work in the same way. One can confirm results by seeing a doctor, who can perform even more sensitive pregnancy tests, after this test.Usually, urine pregnancy tests at home are 99 percent accurate. Even more precise are blood testing.

The accuracy of home test is determined by:

  • How carefully you adhere to all the directions
  • When do you ovulate, how long does it take for the egg to implant?
  • When do you take the test after you have found out you are pregnant?
  • The sensitivity of the pregnancy test

Why does the body produce the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone after conception?

The hCG hormone plays a crucial role in sustaining pregnancy during the early stages. The level of this pregnancy hormone also determines the number the patient has been pregnant. However, gynaecologists often advise an ultrasound examination to correlate the stage of pregnancy with the HCG level.

Expecting mothers secrete hCG hormone from the cells adjacent to the growing embryo after it attaches to the uterine wall. Shortly, these cells transform into the placenta and take over the role of hCG production. hCG hormones also promote the corpus luteum- an organ that secrets hormones to the body – to produce a sufficient quantity of progesterone during the first trimester of pregnancy.

hCG levels are the highest during the sixth week of gestation. After this stage, the placenta is entirely functional and produces enough progesterone without the assistance of hCG. The value of hCG decreases after this phase.

How soon can the patient take a pregnancy test?

Some pregnancy tests can detect hCG even if the patient hasn’t missed a period yet. However, if the patient waits until the first day of a missing period, the results will be more accurate. If the individual does the test first thing in the morning, when the urine is more concentrated, the results may be more accurate.

A missed period

A missed period is one of the first and most dependable indications of pregnancy. It can be difficult to tell if a woman’s late if they don’t keep a close eye on their cycle. A 28-day menstrual cycle is common among women. If it’s been more than a month since the last period, then the woman may consider taking a test. 

When a woman expects to be pregnant, the individual may need to pay attention to their flow. Light bleeding or spotting is usually during the first few weeks when the eggs sink further into the uterine lining during implantation. Any differences in the colour, texture, or volume of blood should be noted.

Cramps

Implantation may also make a woman experience menstruation cramps like symptoms. They may experience this discomfort in early pregnancy and believe that the period is on its way, but it never arrives. Hormone levels differ from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy.

Tender breasts

As the pregnancy progresses and the body creates more estrogen and progesterone, the body begins to adapt to support the baby’s growth. Due to this increased blood flow, the breasts may feel sensitive and appear larger. The nipples may hurt, and the veins beneath the breast skin may appear darker. Soreness of breast isn’t usually suggestive of pregnancy because many women feel breast soreness in the days leading up to their menstruation.

Difference in mood

Along with cramping and aching breasts, early pregnancy can cause:

  • Nausea 
  • Aversions to certain foods
  • Exhaustion
  • Frequent urination

These symptoms may get more severe as the weeks pass before your hCG levels stabilize late in the first trimester. Women should pay attention to their body and get a pregnancy test if they notice any odd physical symptoms.

Failed contraception

Contraceptive pills, condoms, and other types of contraceptive devices do not guarantee pregnancy prevention. If a woman encounters any of the indicators, regardless of the birth control preferences, then the woman should consider taking a test.

Unplanned pregnancy can also be caused by human error or abnormalities. It may be difficult to remember to take birth control tablets on a daily basis. Condoms can break, tear, or be misused in other ways. Each year, approximately 18 out of every 100 women who use condoms for contraception become pregnant.

Where can one get a home pregnancy test?

Without a prescription, anyone can get an Apollo Pregnancy Kit at any of the Apollo centres. The price is determined by the brand. However, the majority of examinations are not extremely costly.

Pros and Cons

The pros of an early pregnancy test:

  • It is one of the easiest and fastest ways to detect pregnancy at home.
  • It is useful in case the birth control measure fails.
  • It helps make necessary changes in the lifestyle to accommodate prenatal care.
  • It helps a woman understand when to stop or start medications.
  • A woman can understand the signs of pregnancy.

The cons of an early pregnancy test:

  • If a woman happens to test too early or incorrectly, the chances of false negatives are high.
  • It can identify chemical pregnancy.
  • It can lead to anxiety owing to the result of the test.
  • It can be expensive if a woman needs to repeat tests.

What are the steps of home pregnancy tests?

Most home-based pregnancy test kits come with a plus or minus sign, ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’ inscription, or one line or two lines. These indicators help in determining whether an individual has conceived or not. Never forget to go through the expiry date and instructions before taking the test.

It is better to undergo this test early in the morning after missing the period for maintaining accuracy. The strips also have a control indicator, signifying the result’s validity in the form of a line or symbol. If the control line or symbol fails to appear, the test becomes invalid, and you should re-conduct it.

An individual can do the urine pregnancy test through any one of the following procedures which would be specified in the test kit:

  • Place the test strip directly in the urine stream.
  • Collect the urine in a container and then dip the strip into it.
  • Collect the urine in a cup and then insert a dropper to collect a few drops of urine. Now, use the dropper to put the urine onto the pregnancy test kit.

What do the pregnancy test results mean?

A line, a colour, or a symbol such as a ‘+’ or ‘-’ sign may appear as a result. The words ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’ may also appear on digital tests. It’s critical to understand what a favourable or negative result entails.

If an Women gets a positive result 

A woman is pregnant if the result is positive. This holds true regardless of how little the line, colour, or indication is. If an individual receives a positive test, they should contact the doctor to discuss various options.

A false-positive result can occur under extremely rare circumstances. This indicates that an individual is not pregnant, but the test indicates that they are. If you have blood or protein in your pee, you may get a false-positive result. Certain medications, such as tranquilizers, anticonvulsants, hypnotics, and fertility medicines, have the potential to produce false-positive results.

If a woman gets a negative result

If the test comes back negative, then the individual is probably not pregnant. However, the results could be negative if:

  • The test has reached the end of its validity period.
  • The individual took the exam incorrectly and too soon
  • Because an individual consumed a lot of drinks immediately before the test, the pee is too diluted.
  • Certain drugs, such as diuretics or antihistamines, are in the body.

If a woman is obtained a negative result, retest in a week or so to double-check. Some home pregnancy tests recommend doing this regardless of the initial results.

When To See A Doctor?

It is better to book an appointment with a doctor:

  • If there is a different result in subsequent pregnancy tests. It is better to undergo a thorough check of the reproductive system in this situation.
  • If the test result appears negative, and the menstrual period does not start, there can be an underlying medical condition. A woman may be suffering from excessive stress, thyroid disorder, or amenorrhea.
  • If an individual is pregnant, then they need to see an obstetrician and get an antenatal check-up.
  • If an individual has missed their menstrual cycle and may believe to be pregnant, do not hesitate to undergo the test. Always remember that an early confirmation of pregnancy can initiate immediate prenatal care.

Conclusion

Even while utilizing protection, sexually active women in their reproductive years have a risk of pregnancy every month. Certain signs and symptoms that the body may transmit should encourage a woman to take a pregnancy test.

Early testing ensures that an individual receives correct medical treatment for yourself and, if necessary, prenatal care for the unborn child. If a woman gets a positive result, call the doctor right away to talk about various options and possible future steps.

Frequently asked questions

Can an ovulation kit detect pregnancy?

To predict ovulation, ovulation tests measure LH in the urine. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is measured in pregnancy tests to confirm pregnancy. Some ovulation tests are insufficient to distinguish between LH and hCG in urine. While it’s uncommon that a woman would use an ovulation test at the end of her luteal phase, when she’s well past peak fertility, some do and can receive a positive result if pregnant.

Does homeopathic medicine affect the pregnancy test?

No, one should avoid using homeopathic remedies while expecting. Despite the fact that the reported side effects of homeopathic treatments are few, there is little scientific evidence to support their safety in pregnant women.

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Verified By Dr G S S Mohapatra
MBBS, MD ( O & G), FICMCH Senior Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynecology, Apollo Hospitals Bhubanswar
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