From the start of your pregnancy, a hormone called human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG) is produced by the fertilised egg. The amount of hCG in your body increases rapidly during the first trimester, but starts to decrease as you progress further into the pregnancy.
Home pregnancy tests work by detecting hCG levels in your urine. Some tests are more responsive than others and are able to detect lower levels of hCG to give a positive result.
When to take a home pregnancy test
To get the most accurate results, you should wait until the day your period is due to take a pregnancy test. If you have irregular periods, you should base it on your longest cycle of recent months.
Although it is possible to buy tests for use before a missed period, some women choose to avoid these. Spontaneous miscarriages are common in very early pregnancy, and many occur before the pregnancy is known about. These spontaneous miscarriages are not indicative of fertility problems, and it is not known why they occur. Most go unnoticed, but some of these pregnancies are picked up by early pregnancy tests. These are known as chemical pregnancies, and many women choose to avoid using early pregnancy tests to avoid them.
hCG levels are highest first thing in the morning, so you should try to take the test with your first bathroom break of the day.
How to take the test
This will depend upon the home pregnancy test you have chosen, so you should follow the instructions provided with your test. The method may vary between manufacturers, and the results may be inaccurate if the test is taken incorrectly.
Reading the results
The instructions will state a length of time to wait before reading the test, this is to ensure that the test has had time to work and that the results will be readable. You should set a timer, and put the test out of sight while you wait for the results.
The instructions will tell you how to read the test, so make sure you have read them carefully before attempting to decipher the results. Most tests have a control line and a result line. If the result line is present when you read the test, no matter how faint or dark it is, then you are pregnant.
A negative test will show only the control line, and the result line will not be visible. The instructions will state a maximum amount of time the reading is accurate for (usually around 10 minutes), after this the test should be discarded. If the result was negative, but your period has still not started you may wish to test again in a few days.
Some fertility medication may cause a false positive result because of the use of hCG. Speak to your healthcare provider or pharmacy to see if your fertility medication contains hCG, and how to get an accurate result.
I’m pregnant, what now?
Congratulations, you should contact your healthcare provider to discuss your pregnancy, and to get advice for what happens next.
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.