Purchasing a home pregnancy test is often one of the first things a woman does when she suspects she may be pregnant. These test kits are available without a prescription and are readily available in most drug stores and grocery stores.
Home pregnancy tests work by identifying the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin – hCG – in the urine. The hormone is detected in urine about 10 days after the first missed period, and during the first 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, the level climbs rapidly, doubling every two to three days.
There are multiple types and brands of home pregnancy tests on the market.Most use a dipstick, test strip or urine collection cup that changes colors when it comes into contact with urine hCG. Other tests reveal the words yes pregnant or not pregnant, lines indicating the test is positive, or plus (positive) or minus (negative) readings.
When choosing a home pregnancy test, most OBGYNs will tell you, go with your preference. Even inexpensive kits are often reliable, as long as you correctly follow the directions.
The below tips may also help you in selecting a home pregnancy test:
- Sensitivity levels vary among test kits – most tests are accurate one week after the first missed period, but some tests are sensitive enough to detect hCG even earlier. When used correctly, many tests are up to 99 percent accurate
- Some kits contain a single test while others allow for multiple testing – if you test too early or want to double-check for any reason, multi-test kits might be your best choice, but remember, this convenience may be reflected in the cost
- Check the expiration date –chemicals used in the test are sensitive and could lose their effectiveness over time
Once you bring the pregnancy test kit home, be sure to store it properly and use by the recommended date. For best results, test your first morning urine and,when timing results – be precise. Many tests are time-sensitive and reading too soon or too late can alter results.
If your home pregnancy test result is positive, make an appointment with your obstetrician right away, since early prenatal care is important for the health of both mom and baby.
And remember, home pregnancy tests while accurate, aren’t foolproof. Even when test results are negative, if you notice changes in your body or suspect you are pregnant – schedule an appointment with your OBGYN.