pregnancy test

Pregnancy Test

A pregnancy test is a health test that tries to determine whether a woman is pregnant or not. There is a lot of uncertainty as to when the right time to take a test is and which test to take. However, today we prepared a guide that will take all the uncertainty away and leave you sure of what steps to take to get the most accurate results in the shortest amount of time.

History of Pregnancy Tests

Suspense has pushed man to invent new ways of testing for pregnancy since as early as the Ancient Greek and Egyptian eras. In ancient Egypt, the pregnancy test involved women peeing on a bag of watered barley; germination indicated pregnancy and lack thereof indicated a lack of pregnancy. The gender of the fetus was found out based on the type of seed that germinated.

Hippocrates, the great philosopher, also had something to say about pregnancy. He suggested that women who missed their periods should take honey water at bedtime and if they suffered from abdominal pain or cramps, then they were pregnant.

Centuries later, uroscopy became the dominant pregnancy test. It was a pregnancy test based on the evaluation of a woman's urine.

Similar methods have been invented over the years, but with the current growth of technology, we've come up with more accurate pregnancy tests, some of which take no more than a couple of minutes to deliver correct results.

When to Get Tested?

While suspense may be eating on your nerves, it's still unwise to take a pregnancy test too early. Getting the timing of a pregnancy test right is the key to getting more accurate results. So, when is a good time to take the test?

  • When you've missed your period. This is one of the most reliable ways to determine whether you are pregnant or not. Most women have 4-week cycles and while being late by a couple of days is okay, being late for a fortnight is a good sign that you might be pregnant. Keep in mind that stress, changes in diet and some medical conditions can alter your cycle. If you don't keep track of your cycles, now might be a good time to start keeping an eye on them so you can mark inconsistencies when they arise.
  • When you experience cramps. Experiencing menstrual cramps a few days before your period is normal. But if you are experiencing the cramps but the periods never come, then it’s high time to take a test to check for possible pregnancy.
  • When your breast hurt. To support the growth of the fetus, the body produces more estrogen and progesterone hormones. These increased hormone levels may make your breasts appear bigger and way tenderer than usual due to an increase in blood flow. Additionally, the veins on your breasts might appear a little darker and your nipples might hurt.
  • Your body feels somewhat different. Pregnancy causes many changes in your body. These physiological changes may cause food aversion, frequent urination, nausea, and exhaustion. While these are not definite signs of pregnancy, them coupling with any of the above signs should prompt you to take a pregnancy test to ascertain your condition.

Apart from missing your period, none of these factors should be a tangible sign of pregnancy, but they should be taken as an indication that you are ready to take a pregnancy test. Don't assume you are pregnant unless you've taken a pregnancy test and the results turned out positive.

Pregnancy Test

All pregnancy tests assess one or more components in your bodily fluids. Below is a general overview of the different types of pregnancy tests that are in common use nowadays.

a. Home Pregnancy Tests

These are tests that can be done at home. Most of them can be carried out less than two weeks after you miss your periods and they give accurate results. However, depending on the individual, accurate results may even occur right after you miss your periods. In some cases, even the tests taken up to 5 days before expected menstruation might show accurate results.

The home one step pregnancy test (HPT) works by detecting the hCG hormone in woman's urine. hCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin hormone. It's found in large quantities in the body of a woman during pregnancy.

b. Clinical Urine Pregnancy Test

Unlike the HPT, this test is carried out by trained physician in a clinic or hospital. They are a little bit more accurate than the home tests since the doctor usually considers additional tests to rule out any other medical conditions that may cause false positives.

Though they are relatively more accurate than home tests, they are considerably more expensive and, depending on your insurance plan or lack thereof, you may have to spend a lot of cash on this test.

The results can be expected in a few hours or a few days.

c. Blood Test

Like the clinical urine test, this blood test is carried out in a clinic by a doctor. The test checks for the amount of hCG hormone in your blood to determine whether you are pregnant or not. There are two types of blood tests.

The first category is the qualitative hCG blood test that checks to see whether the hormone is produced in sufficient amounts in the patient’s body. The presence of the hormone means you are pregnant. The second type of test is the quantitative hCG blood test which checks the specific levels of the hormone in your blood.

The quantitative test can be used to estimate how far along you are. This type of test is more accurate than any other test since it measures the exact amount of hCG in the blood.

The results can be expected in a few hours or a few days depending on your hospital.

Testing for Pregnancy at Home

After learning what types of tests there are, it's time to have an overview of different ways you can carry out the test yourself.

Here are some tools that will help you with testing – please, read the following information carefully in order to make sure you use them right whenever the need arises.

1. Pregnancy Test Kit

Like stated above, the hCG hormone is only produced in the bodies of women during pregnancy. The hormone circulates in the blood, and there are also very generous amounts of the hormone in the urine.

The pregnancy kit is a simple set of tools that you can use to test for the presence of the hormone in your urine. It is a qualitative test that just checks for the presence of hCG but not for the levels of the hormone in your body.

There is no one-size-fits-all kit, and different kits have varied levels of sensitivity to the presence of the hormone. Very sensitive kits can detect hCG from as early as the first week of your pregnancy. As such, these kits can test positive when you've just missed your period or sometimes even before the period is expected to begin.

The kits are bought over the counter at most pharmacies. The directions of use work differently depending on the manufacturer and you have to follow each kit's user guide to the letter for the most accurate results.

Most kits use lines to indicate pregnancy or lack thereof. The usual results are one line for negative results and two bold lines for positive results, but you should check the kit's user manual to ensure that this is the case with the kit you are using.

So how do you use the kit?

Most doctors advise that you use the kit in the morning. At night while sleeping, you don't take any water, so your urine is much more concentrated right after you wake up as compared to during the daytime. This makes it certain that if there are traces of the hormone in your blood, they will be detected in your urine.

After purchasing the kit, just tear the box open, take the testing stick out and take a pee while holding the stick in the flow of your urine. That's it. After you're done, wait for a few minutes before reading the results and throwing the test away. Many people throw the stick away after too few minutes of waiting, which is wrong. Unless the device reads positive after a few minutes, you should wait at least twenty minutes before getting rid of it and settling on a negative answer. The difference in the time taken to show results may vary from brand to brand, but the length of time that the kit has stayed on the shelf could also increase the waiting time.

Can the results be wrong? When it comes to these kits, false positives are way less common than false negatives. If you test too early in your pregnancy, the kit may not detect enough hCG to read as positive, so you may think you aren't pregnant when you are. This is why it's advised that if you still miss your period after you tested negative, you should retake the test. If the tests keep reading negative, but you aren't getting your periods, it's time to visit your doctor.

How much do the kits cost?

In Walmart, CVS and Walgreens standard kits cost between $15 - $25 but the point is that they usually include 2-5 test strips, so they can be used more than once. This brings the price of a single test to $3 and sometimes even as low as $1 for some of the budget kits.

2. Pregnancy Test Strips

They are a little like litmus paper, except they are used to test for pregnancy and not acidity.

While you hold the pregnancy stick from the pregnancy kit onto the flow of the urine, the way you do it with a test strip is different. When peeing, you collect a little urine in a clean container and then dip the test strip inside then remove it and place it on a flat surface that is non-absorbent. Don't shake it like they do in chemistry experiments. In just a few minutes, you should know whether the results are positive or negative.

Just like the testing stick in the kits, the strips show the results by displaying lines. The most common standard is one line for lack of pregnancy and two lines for the presence of pregnancy.

Many customers ask what the strip is made of. The strip is covered in anti-hCG globulin. That's the material that reacts with the hCG from the woman's urine.

In some brands of strip tests, the strip shows only one line for positive and a blank for negatives. You should always check the user manual/instructions so that you can avoid any false readings.

What is great about this test?

  • It's quick. After dipping the strip in urine, you should have an accurate reading in less than five minutes. In fact, many strips aren't viable after five minutes of being dipped into the urine.
  • Early detection. See an accurate result less than one week after you've missed your periods.
  • Accuracy. There are very few false positives, and surprisingly, it also has a lower false negative rate compared to pregnancy test kits.
  • Ease of use. After the instructions we’ve just given you, you are well equipped to use any pregnancy test strip. The procedure remains the same for all strips. But you should be vigilant about interpreting your result, so always read the manual for your exact strip before use.
  • Affordability. Unlike other pregnancy test tools, you can use as many strips as you want without breaking your bank. In fact, go ahead and use more than one for a 100% chance of correct results.
Talk about affordability and the question of price comes up. In most US pharmacies the average single test strip costs under $1.

3. Online Pregnancy Tests

Even the folks on the WWW have something important to say concerning pregnancies.

If you do a google search of the word ‘Pregnancy Test Online', you will be surprised at how many websites come up offering these tests.

At the start of this article, I mentioned how each reliable test uses a body fluid to test for pregnancy; not this one.

Online pregnancy tests, like any other online test/quiz, are a bunch of questions that you answer and an algorithm somewhere determines whether you are pregnant or not based on your replies.

Why are online tests attractive?

  • Ease of use. Taking the test is just like reading this guide, open your browser, go to a website, click on a few yes/no questions and you get your results seconds after you are done with the test.
  • Privacy. You can take the test from the confines of your home, and no one has to see you buying a kit or strip, making it one of the most confidential tests out there.
  • Portability. You can take the test at the office, on the subway, standing up in your kitchen; literally anywhere.
  • Quick results. Your page reloads after you've answered all the questions and based on your internet speed, this could take anywhere from 2-10 seconds. If your internet is not fast enough, it may take longer to display the results.
What type of questions do they ask?

Below are a few sample questions that you will find in a typical online test;

  1. Some demographic information, like ‘What is your age?'
  2. Have you had sex in the past month? (y/n)
  3. Have you experienced any of these? (There is a list of common pregnancy symptoms, and then you have to tick each that you've experienced).
  4. Have you taken any home pregnancy test after you last sexual intercourse? (y/n) If it's a yes, you have to tick on whether the results were positive or negative. I mean really? Why would you have to pay for a test if you already knew the answer?

Very many people fall into the trap of these online tests. They don't work.

For one, many people are so eager to be pregnant that they will answer those questions subjectively based on what they want rather that what is true.

In addition, this is not a real test. If it were, they would ask you to send them a sample of your urine or blood and then email you the results weeks later.

While these tests scam many people, if taken objectively, their results are a good indicator of whether it's a good time to take an actual test, like the ones mentioned above.

Keep in mind that most of these tests don't tell you whether you are pregnant or not, they just show you the probability of being pregnant. If the results indicate a very high probability, then it is high time you go to your local chemist or supermarket and buy a real pregnancy test that works.

Which Is the Best Pregnancy Test for Me?

Choosing the best pregnancy tests for you is a personal task based on your needs.

Here are some factors to help you decide;

  • Affordability. Based on the prices quotes from major online pharmacies, the pregnancy strip test is the cheapest. However, based on your location and insurance plan, the clinical blood or urine test may be the most affordable solution for you.
  • Convenience. There is no use going to a hospital if you can get accurate results at home. As such, you can choose between buying the pregnancy test kit or the pregnancy test strips.
  • Accuracy. The clinical test is without a doubt the most accurate of these tests. However, taking two of either the strip test or the pregnancy kit can be an almost equal guarantee of accurate results.

Summing it all up, we can come up with one simple conclusion: don't let the suspense kill you. If you are unsure about your condition, take a test today, and it will put you at ease.

As an afterthought, every test mentioned above works, except for the online tests. Settle for one of them, go to the store and buy yourself a kit or a strip and in a few minutes, you will be sure whether you are going to be a mommy after a few months or not.

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