How do Pregnancy Tests Work?

Often a woman can tell she is pregnant when she notices at least one common symptom. If you feel you are experiencing any of the early symptoms of pregnancy, the first step you should take is a home pregnancy test or you could visit your doctor and they can help you to confirm the pregnancy.

Home pregnancy tests; also known as HPT, can be used as early as the first day you notice your missed period.  There are some very sensitive tests that can be used even earlier than this.

These tests work by detecting the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in your urine. HCG is only found in your body during pregnancy. There is a chemical in the stick that changes colour when it comes into contact with this hormone. Tests will vary in the time it takes to get the results, but most of them take an average of 10 minutes to get an accurate reading.

Most manufacturers of HPT recommend that you take the test twice as results can sometimes vary if a test is taken too early after your first missed period. HCG levels can be too low to catch early on for some women. Applicators are different from one brand to another, but in general the tests are inexpensive. The advantage is that they can be used in the privacy of your own home.

As long as they are used correctly, pregnancy tests are accurate. It is sometimes possible to have a false negative. This is when the test says you are not pregnant but you are. If you missed your period and it still hasn’t arrived after a few days, you should repeat the test or check with your doctor.

The doctor’s office can also perform a urine test. The doctor’s office urine test is not necessarily any more accurate than an HPT. The advantage is that with the help of a professional any potential errors that could affect the accuracy of the test will be eliminated.

Another test that can be performed at the doctor’s office is a blood test. The laboratory will test the blood to detect the presence of HCG. These blood tests can detect HCG much earlier than urine tests. Blood test results take longer. There are two types of pregnancy blood tests.

  • Qualitative HCG Blood Test:  This test will check to see if the body is producing any HCG. It will give you a basic yes or no answer as to whether you are or are not pregnant.
  • Quantitative HCG Blood Test:  This test will measure the actual level of HCG in your blood.

Based on how far along you may think you are in the pregnancy, and if the HCG level is higher or lower than what is expected, your doctor might want to arrange more testing. Additional testing might include repeating the HCG test in a couple of days, or maybe an ultrasound. Commonly, the reason for the HCG level to show abnormal is being off on your dates. This means you may be farther along or maybe not as far as you thought in the pregnancy.

Quantitative HCG blood tests are very accurate because they measure the exact amount of HCG in the blood. This test is able to detect smaller amounts of the hormone than the qualitative HCG blood test or the urine test.

Brant Arts I.D.A Dispensary carries a wide range of female health products to assist with family planning.  Our highly professional staff of pharmacists, technicians and clerks can help you purchase the right product for you.