How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
A missed period, for some women, can be a cause for celebration. But for others, it can be a precursor to a stressful time. Even so, it’s not always conclusive as it could be due to various other reasons, including stress, diet, exercise, hormonal imbalance, or other health issues.
Usually, you need a test to confirm pregnancy. In that regard, you may contact the Pregnancy Resource Center or explore their online resources – if you’re in need of a free blood pregnancy test clinic. Their tests are lab-certified, implying the results are accurate and reliable.
Technically, your doctor is best positioned to determine whether you’re pregnant. They may also advise you on the ideal pregnancy test kit.
All the same, you might be intrigued by how a pregnancy test works, especially if it’s an at-home test. Regardless of the kit you spring for, you can expect it to detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).
This hormone is produced by cells that make up the placenta once an embryo implants in the uterine wall. It’s also dubbed the pregnancy hormone, which typically increases when a woman gets pregnant.
Post-conception, HCG is detectable in urine or blood within the first two weeks and usually peaks in the eighth to eleventh week. So, pregnancy tests measure the amount of HCG present in either sample, indicating whether you’re pregnant.
A positive result means the sample contains at least 25 milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/ml) of HCG. Conversely, if 5 mIU/ml of HCG is present in the urine, you’re probably not pregnant.
The best way to test for pregnancy is by taking a doctor-administered blood or urine test. However, if circumstances preclude you from doing so or you prefer a hands-on approach, you can order a home test kit and get it done – no need for a prescription. Here’s how both tests are carried out:
Whatever option you pick, your doctor will provide specific instructions – including diet and lifestyle advice – to help you get accurate results. Nonetheless, even if your pregnancy test returns negative, it’s advisable to confirm with your healthcare provider. They can perform an ultrasound, although they can only determine viability past the sixth week.
Ideally, you should take a pregnancy test immediately after you get out of bed in the morning. That’s because HCG concentrations are usually higher at this time and make for more accurate results.
Also, fluids may dilute your urine if taken before the test, making it harder to detect HCG levels. Even so, depending on the sensitivity of the test you use, you might take the test any time of the day and get an accurate result.
That being said, avoid taking the test too early into pregnancy as it might give a false negative result. In short, wait at least one week after you miss your period before testing.
You may also take a test, wait a few days, and retest if you suspect you’re pregnant. If you use a test kit as instructed, you can be 99% sure of its accuracy. But if you’re hung up on the remaining 1%, confirm with your doctor by taking a blood test.
A home pregnancy test offers a convenient and confidential way to determine whether you’re pregnant. And now that you’re aware of how the tests work, we hope you can better understand your results and take appropriate steps if you test positive.