Pregnancy test are like the lottery, the result in one single moment can change your life forever. The only difference is, if you are not ready to have a family, testing negative or losing the lottery can bring you some relief. Some of us are anxious to start a family and others have had unexpected things happen in life like an unprotected romantic encounter. Dealing with buying a test applicator for the first time can be a bit scary if you never had done this before. But we will take the unknown out of how to use a pregnancy test, and tell you how pregnancy test work and what is the different between products sold on the market.
Pregnancy tests work based on hormones. The tests contain material that can detect the pregnancy hormone HCG in your urine. This hormone is produced by the body when a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine wall, about a week after fertilization. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) maintains the pregnancy and causes the embryo to develop properly. Every day of your pregnancy your body generates a little more of the HCG hormone. Its concentration is highest after two or three months of pregnancy.
Which pregnancy test?
The types of pregnancy test are:
- Test stick- a home test in the form of a stick on which you urinate. You can also hold the stick in some urine which you have collected in a cup.
- Test Cassette- a home test with which you have to instill some urine in a test box with a pipette.
The result of the test are easy to read. After the urine is absorbed by the stick or test cassette, one or two lines will appear in the result window within minutes:
- Two lines means you are pregnant
- One line means you are not pregnant
- Zero lines means that the test was not performed correctly or that you have used a test that is very old
There are pregnancy tests that reflect the results in text (‘Pregnant’ / ‘Not Pregnant’), and there are even tests that indicate how long you have been pregnant.
When to test?
A common way to test for pregnancy is after the first day that your period is late. HCG levels in your urine are high enough to establish pregnancy. If you do not have the patience to wait that long, you can now buy a home test that is more sensitive. This early pregnancy test can already detect the smallest trace of HCG, which enables you to test four days before your period is due. What is important to realize is that, the earlier you test, there is no certainty that your pregnancy will last. In those first days after fertilization anything can go wrong, and you can lose the embryo.
How reliable is a pregnancy test?
Pregnancy tests are very reliable: GP’s use exactly the same test strips or cassettes. The reliability is greatest if you follow the instructions in the leaflet. Using the test to early or not holding the stick long enough in your urine, can give a false reading because the test strip cannot detect the pregnancy hormone. You get a negative result whilst you might be pregnant. Many brands now offer more than one test per package. You can wait a few days and take a re-test for certainty. If you have any doubt about the outcome or if you have other questions about the pregnancy test, it is best to consult your doctor.