How To Test Pregnancy

Happy couple with pregnancy test kit

If you are trying to get pregnant, or hoping not to get pregnant, a home pregnancy test may be your best friend.  

Conception occurs when an egg is fertilized by sperm. At that moment, cells start dividing and the fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. There it implants into the uterine wall six to twelve days after conception. The fertilized egg continues the steps needed to create a baby. When implantation occurs, a hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) starts to be produced by a rudimentary placenta.   

Pregnancy tests are designed to look for levels of hCG. Since hCG is not produced until about six to twelve days after conception, you may actually be pregnant, but get a false reading on your pregnancy test; if implantation has not occurred or levels of hCG have not been produced at a high enough level for the pregnancy test to read them, the result will be negative. If you have missed your period and/or believe you may be pregnant, but received a negative reading on your pregnancy test, test again in a few days.   

There are only three ways to test for pregnancy. Two forms you can do at home, and one has to be done in a care provider's office.

  1. Dip Tests. Dip tests are a form of home pregnancy test. In a dip test, you fill a clean, provided container with urine and hold a test strip in the urine for a specific amount of time. The included instructions will tell you how to tell if you have a positive or negative reading.

  • Midstream Tests. In a midstream test, you hold a stick under your urine and wait a specified amount of time for a reaction. Midstream tests are the most common, and the tests you see often in movies and television shows. Again, you must read the instructions carefully to figure out whether or not you're pregnant. You can buy dip and midstream tests at most grocery stores, pharmacies or discount stores. Accuracy varies, depending on the test. 
  • Blood Tests. Blood tests must be done at your care provider's office. This test is more sensitive than home tests and can look for very small levels of hCG in your bloodstream. However, it can only tell if you are pregnant six to eight days after you ovulate and only if the fertilized egg has implanted into the uterus and hCG is being produced. So even with a blood test, you may get a false negative. Blood tests are not often done anymore since home pregnancy tests became more accurate. If you feel you need a blood test to test for pregnancy, talk to your care provider.   
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