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Taking a Home Pregnancy Test

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 18-07-2008

If you and your spouse are trying to conceive a baby, you may want to know if your wife is pregnant. The best and earliest method to that is to use a home pregnancy test.

What does a home pregnancy test do?

The way a home pregnancy test works is simple. The test measures the amount of a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your spouse’s urine. A woman’s body starts releasing hCG only after a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus wall and the placenta begins to form around it. All this happens within the first 10-15 days of a pregnancy.

The placenta stimulates the release of hCG in a woman’s bloodstream but some amount of the hormone passes out through her urine, which is detected by a home pregnancy test. Most kits can detect anywhere between 15 to 100 mIU/ml of hCG in the urine.

What are the different types of tests available?

A home pregnancy test comes in three main forms and is most accurate when the first morning urine sample is used.

•    The most common home pregnancy test consists of a test stick your spouse can dip into her urine. The stick changes color if hCG is present and confirms a pregnancy.

•    A second pregnancy test includes a urine collection cup and a testing mechanism (like a dipstick), with a well in it. A few drops of urine are put in the well or the well is dipped into the urine collected in the cup. If hCG is present, a specific part of the test device changes color.

•    A newer pregnancy test available involves mixing a urine sample with a special substance (in powder or liquid form) to produce a chemical reaction. This reaction will occur only if hCG is present in the urine.

Is a home pregnancy test accurate?

A home pregnancy test is reasonably accurate. hCG takes around 2 weeks or more after fertilization to start being detected in the urine so a pregnancy test performed within this period will yield a negative result. For better accuracy, your spouse should take a test at least one week after the first day of her missed period.

The accuracy of a home pregnancy test also depends on your spouse’s menstrual cycle, the exact day of fertilization, and the sensitivity of the test itself. Remember that even if your spouse’s test is positive, she still needs to have her doctor confirm her pregnancy.

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