You are late, your breasts are tender, you are tired and to top it off, you feel nauseous…hmmm, could you be pregnant? Whether the sheer thought of this triggers feelings of joy or anxiety, taking a home pregnancy test will help ease your mind. But first, as this situation can be nerve-racking, you should know how they work and what may affect their results.
When should you take a home pregnancy test? Theoretically, the great majority of these tests are 99% reliable as early as the first day of a missed period. However, you will get more accurate results if the test is done one week after a missed period.
Home pregnancy tests detect the presence of a particular hormone called HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), secreted by the embryo once it attaches to the uterine lining. Therefore, if ovulation occurs on the 14th day of your period (counting the first day of your period) and the egg is fertilized around the 16th day, it should implant itself in the uterus around the 21st day. The secretion of the HCG hormone should start two days later. The level of HCG will probably be high enough to be detected between the 25th and the 28th day, according to manufacturers. That is to say, the moment your next period should start.
Various types of home pregnancy tests are sold in pharmacy, but they all work in a similar way. You must either place one extremity of a dipstick in the urine stream or immerse it in a container of collected urine for five to ten seconds. A minute or two later, you should know if the test is positive or negative. Instructions may vary slightly from one kit to the next. You must therefore read the instructions carefully before doing the test. If you have any questions regarding instructions or need help interpreting the result, you can always contact your pharmacist, or the toll-free number provided by the test manufacturer in the instructions.
Although rare, it is possible to get a positive result even if the woman is not actually pregnant. This is known as a false-positive. Traces of blood or protein in the urine, a spontaneous abortion, or an expired or damage test kit may explain this anomaly.
It is also possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a negative result even though she is really pregnant. This is known as a false-negative. It may happen if a woman takes the test too early in her pregnancy. This is the why you should wait until your period is at least one day late. Another error may be to collect a urine sample and wait too long before performing the test. It is recommended you wait no longer than 15 minutes between collecting and testing. Diluted urine may also falsify results and it is therefore preferable to take the test first thing in the morning, when your urine is most concentrated.
If your period still has not started one week following a negative home pregnancy result, you should take a pregnancy test again.
If your test is positive, you should think about making an appointment with your physician or a midwife. The sooner your pregnancy is confirmed, the faster you can start making judicious choices for you and your foetus.
Take good care of yourself!