Home Pregnancy Test
You’re feeling nauseous, your breasts are swollen and sore, and you swear you’ve been running to the bathroom non-stop all morning; suddenly you start to think, “Am I pregnant?”
When you think you might be pregnant, it can be hard to concentrate on anything else, which is why most women turn to home pregnancy tests (HPTs) for results. However, with so much conflicting information about their accuracy, we are left to wonder, just how reliable are the results of an HPT?
What is a Home Pregnancy Test?
Over-the-counter pregnancy tests can be very useful because they can tell you if you’re pregnant in minutes. You simply need a urine sample, which you can take at any time of the day. They can even be done as early as the first few days after a missed period.
They are also very easy to use; you simply need to place urine on a prepared chemical strip and wait a couple of minutes for the strip to show the result. What the tests are checking for is a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG, which is produced in surplus amounts during pregnancy. Normally, a woman’s hCG levels will be low. However, pregnant women will have high levels of hGG as a result of the placenta’s increased production of the hormone, which in turn causes higher amounts of hCG to be secreted in the urine.
However, because it can take some time for hCG levels to rise, a home pregnancy test can show a false negative result; in other words, it will say the test was negative even though you are actually pregnant. Ideally, an HPT should be performed seven to ten days after missing your period in order to ensure you get the most accurate results.
Also, it is important that you follow the instructions carefully and correctly. This may mean waiting an extra few days before doing the test. When done correctly, home pregnancy tests can be as accurate as doctor-performed urine tests.
Why Take a Home Pregnancy Test?
There are many advantages to taking a home pregnancy test, including:
- Added privacy
- The results are virtually immediate
- When performed correctly, they can provide a very accurate result
- They can be performed early on in pregnancy
- In turn, HPTs can give you the opportunity to start taking care of yourself (i.e. starting a pregnancy diet during the early days of conception
On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages to taking an HPT. For example:
- They can sometimes be costly – especially since many women opt to buy more than one.
- If a test produces a false negative result, you may take dangerous risks (such as drinking alcohol or smoking) or delay taking the appropriate steps to take care of yourself.
How to Take a Home Pregnancy Test
To ensure that your home pregnancy test is as accurate as possible, you must first be sure to read the directions inside the test completely before using it to make sure that you are using it correctly. If you are not using your first urine of the day, then you’ll want to make sure that your urine has been in your bladder for at least four hours. Drinking excessive amounts of water won’t help; in fact, this can dilute the concentration of hCG and give a false negative result.
It is also best to have a watch or timer at hand so that you can time the length of the test correctly. If you end up reading the test too early, or too late, you may end up skewing the results. In addition, if you are on any type of medication (such as fertility drugs or birth control pills), read the package inserts before testing to see how or if your medications may affect the results.
Make sure that all the equipment in the test are clean and never reuse them. While you are waiting, it is best to place the sample on a flat surface where it won’t be disturbed or come into contact with extreme heat or cold.
If you feel you need to do another test to confirm the results, be aware that it is best to wait a few days before trying the second test.
Finally, remember that home pregnancy tests are not designed to take the place of an examination by a doctor. You should always have a positive test confirmed by a medical professional and then proceed to a prenatal appointment.