In case you suspect you might be pregnant, you will likely want to know when to take a pregnancy test, as well as what is the most reliable way to get accurate results.
Before purchasing a pregnancy test, it is important to understand how a pregnancy test works, as well as what types of tests there are. In case you are looking for reliable information that can answer all your questions, then you’re on the right place.
All pregnancy tests are designed to measure the amount of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), also known as the pregnancy hormone. Some tests are designed to measure the amount of this hormone from your blood, while home pregnancy tests are measuring the presence of hCG in your urine. This hormone is produced by the fetus, as its levels are increasing as your pregnancy progresses, peaking at around 8-11 weeks.
What is important to be said is that some home pregnancy tests are more sensible than others. Some of the most sensitive ones are able of detecting hCG as early as four days before your period is due, or seven days after conception. This is why it’s important to take a look at how sensitive a certain test is, which should be described on the packaging.
Home pregnancy tests range from 10 mIU/ml to 40 mIU/ml (mili-International Unit per milliliter). The lower the number, the more sensitive the test – which also means that it can detect pregnancy at an earlier stage. For example: if you are pregnant, at 10 days past ovulation you may be able to detect around 25 mIU. At 12 days, you should be able to detect around 50 mIU, and after 14 days past ovulation, 100 mIU.
Speaking of normal levels of hCG, this depends primarily on the stage of the pregnancy, as said in the previous paragraph. However, it is completely normal to have a healthy baby with very low numbers. The general rule is that you are not pregnant if your hCG levels are less than 5 mIU/ml. If you are pregnant, your pregnancy hormone levels should be adobe 25 mIU/ml.
How Accurate Are Home Pregnancy Tests?
Most manufacturers claim that their tests are 97 to 99 percent accurate. However, it is very important to know that a test is much less effective if not used properly. To be sure you get the most accurate results, you should carefully read the instructions thoroughly before starting the test.
To avoid false results, here are a couple of tips:
- Read the instructions very carefully;
- You should read the result after the suggested 3 to 5-minute reaction time;
- Don’t use test kits past their expiration date;
- Avoid touching the absorbent pad;
When to Take a Pregnancy Test?
As mentioned above, pregnancy test kits are designed to detect levels of hCG in your body, which is a clear indication if you’re pregnant of not. However, your body may be producing hCG before your period is due, so it’s ideal to test on the first day of your missed period.
If you test earlier than the first day of your missed period, you are more likely to end up with a false result. This can happen due to low levels of hCG that are not yet high enough to detect the pregnancy.
You’ve also probably heard that you should test in the morning, which is actually true. This is because hCG is at its highest levels early in the morning, so this is the best time to test if you’re early in the pregnancy. On the other hand, you shouldn’t drink too much water before going to bed, since excessive fluid intake before taking the pregnancy test can dilute hCG, which can provide an inaccurate result.
Which Types of Pregnancy Tests Are Available?
There are two main types of pregnancy tests: urine tests and blood tests. However, there are several sub-types that you should be also aware of, so you can make a valid decision on how to check if you’re pregnant.
Urine tests can be done at home or in your doctor’s office. The main benefit of home pregnancy tests is that they are private and more convenient. Many women are choosing urine-based tests to take about a week after a missed period. Once again, it is important to carefully read the instructions, as well as to follow them closely for the most accurate results. It is also advisable to consult your doctor for an even more sensitive pregnancy tests in order to confirm results.
Blood tests are done at your doctor’s office. These tests can detect pregnancy earlier than a home pregnancy test, which is about six to eight days after ovulation. On the other hand, it takes longer to get the results than with urine-based tests. Additionally, there are two types of blood pregnancy tests:
- A Qualitative hCG Test, which tells if hGC is present. Even though numerous doctors order these tests to confirm pregnancy as early as 10 days after a missed period, these tests can detect hCG much earlier;
- A Quantitative hCGTest, which measures the exact amount of hCG in your blood. It is capable of detecting very low levels of the pregnancy hormone. Additionally, these tests are useful for tracking potential problems during the pregnancy.
How Hard or Expensive It Is to Do a Home Pregnancy Test?
One of the main benefits of urine-based tests is the fact that you can buy a home pregnancy test in a drugstore, without a prescription. The cost depends on the brand; however, their average cost is relatively low – from $5 up to around $20.
Another convenience of urine-based tests is that they are quick and easy to use. They can be 99 percent accurate if you carefully follow directions. In general, there are several ways to test the urine:
- Hold the test’s stick in your urine stream;
- Collect urine in a cup and dip the test’s stick in to it;
- Collect urine in a cup and use a dropper to put urine into another container.
No matter which method you choose, you need to wait a few minutes before seeing the results. There are different ways the results can be presented. Some tests show results using a line, a color, or a symbol such as “+” or “-“. Additionally, there are digital tests that produce the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant”.
What Do the Pregnancy Test Results Mean and How They Can Be Interpreted?
It is important to know what a positive or negative result mean, as well as if there are some cases when the pregnancy test can be misinterpreted.
If you get a positive result, it means that you are pregnant. This is always true in case you get a positive result, no matter how faint the line, color, or sign is. In this scenario, it is advisable to call your doctor and make an appointment, so you can take a more precise test.
In some very rare instances, you can get a false-positive result. This means that your test shows that you are pregnant, even though you are not. This can happen if blood or protein is present in your urine. Note that some drugs, such as tranquilizers, anti-convulsants, or hypnotics).
If you get a negative result, you are likely not pregnant. Note that you can still be pregnant in case:
- The test is past its expiration date, so make sure to check the date on the packaging;
- You haven’t closely followed the instructions;
- You tested to soon, where the test wasn’t able of detecting the pregnancy hormone due to its low levels;
- Your urine is too diluted because you consumed too much liquid before taking the test;
- You are taking certain medications, as described in the previous paragraph.
Regardless of the result you get, it is advisable to retest within a week. You will find this piece of information on numerous home pregnancy tests, since even though they can be 99 percent accurate, there is still a small chance of getting the false result.
Known when to take a pregnancy test plays a major role in determining whether you are pregnant or not. In case you take it too soon if you don’t take the right test (the one that is sensitive enough), you could end up with a false result. In case you are a couple of weeks late, any home pregnancy test should be able to give you a positive response if you are pregnant.
With any home pregnancy test, the room for error is still there. This is why you can purchase a test with two test kits. Everyone’s body works differently, so it is important to stay relaxed as well as to closely follow the instructions.
In case you still have any doubts, the only completely reliable way to tell if you’re pregnant is to make an appointment at your doctor’s office, where you can do highly accurate pregnancy tests.