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Home Pregnancy Tests

Understanding Home Pregnancy Tests: How They Work & How To Use Them

Whether you’ve been trying to conceive for a long time or are navigating the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy, waiting to find out if you’re pregnant can be an emotional experience for many women. You want to get answers as soon as possible, but perhaps you’re uncertain where to get a pregnancy test, when and how to take one, and whether or not the results will be reliable.

If you have questions about home pregnancy tests, you’re certainly not alone. In this post, we’ll provide straightforward and accurate information about home pregnancy tests, how they work, how to take them, how to interpret their results, and what to do afterward:

What Is a Home Pregnancy Test?

A home pregnancy test is a test you can take at home that will detect the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in your urine. Because HCG is a hormone that’s only produced by a woman’s body after a fertilized egg has implanted in the uterus, the presence of HCG in your urine almost always indicates that you are pregnant.

Taking a home pregnancy test isn’t painful and doesn’t require any medical instruments or experience. The process typically involves soaking the absorbent end of a test stick in urine and then waiting a couple of minutes to interpret results that will appear in a window or on a screen.

How Do Home Pregnancy Tests Work?

Home pregnancy tests work by detecting the hormone HCG, which is produced during pregnancy. Most home pregnancy tests will provide a positive result if they detect HCG in your urine in an amount greater than or equal to 25 mIU/ml. For most pregnant women, this level of HCG is present in the body by about the third week after conception.

How Do I Take a Home Pregnancy Test?

Because every brand of home pregnancy test is slightly different, it’s important to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions before testing. In general, you’ll wash your hands, unwrap the test stick and remove the cap, place urine on the test strip by either dipping it into a container of collected urine or peeing on it mid-stream, replace the cap, and place the test horizontal for 1-3 minutes until results appear.

Different tests will display results in different ways, so be sure to carefully read the instructions for the test you’ve purchased. You may see a line appear in a display window, a change of colour, or the words pregnant or not pregnant. If test results don’t appear at all, the test didn’t work properly and you should repeat the process with another test.

When To Take a Home Pregnancy Test

You should take a home pregnancy test if you’re trying to conceive or are sexually active and your period is late or you’re experiencing other symptoms of pregnancy.

Though some home pregnancy tests claim to be able to detect pregnancy as early as several days before a missed period, it’s best to wait until 10-14 days after the possible date of conception for more reliable results (which should approximately coincide with an officially late or missed period).

Taking a pregnancy test first thing in the morning when your urine is most concentrated is recommended. Diluted urine can lead to inaccurate test results.

How Accurate Are Home Pregnancy Tests?

When used properly, home pregnancy tests are approximately 99% accurate. That being said, there are some circumstances under which an inaccurate result is possible.

Testing at Home Vs. at a Clinic

If you want to ensure the most accurate urine pregnancy test results, being tested by a medical professional is a good option. The urine tests used at clinics are medical-grade and the medical professionals administering them are experienced with the procedure.

False Negative Results

When it comes to home pregnancy tests, false negatives are more common than false positives. A false negative result may occur because:

  • You took the test too early
  • You checked the results too soon
  • You took the test improperly
  • Your urine was diluted
  • The test was damaged or expired

If you receive a negative test result but still suspect you may be pregnant, try testing again in another week.

False Positive Results

False positive results are very rare but could occur due to early pregnancy loss or the presence of HCG in your body due to specific diseases, conditions, or medications.

Where To Get a Home Pregnancy Test

You can purchase a home pregnancy test at most drugstores or pharmacies for between $10-$20. If you’re seeking options for pregnancy testing in Hamilton, Atwell Centre can provide you with a free, medical-grade urine test that you can take at our clinic.

For more information about pregnancy support, visit us at Atwell Centre.

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