Whether you’ve planned it or not, a pregnancy can often come as a surprise. Most women are not aware that they’re pregnant until the early symptoms of pregnancy become very evident. So a pregnancy test actually comes in handy – and it’s quite accurate too. What’s more, you can take it within the comfort of your home.
How a home pregnancy test works
Most over-the-counter (OTC) pregnancy tests are reasonably priced and available at medical stores. It’s usually rectangular in shape and comes with a designated area where you’re supposed to put your urine sample. Once the sample is added, a reaction occurs and the results of the test show up on another designated area. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to know if the results indicate whether you’re pregnant or not, as different tests have different systems for this.
Now if you’re wondering what sort of a reaction occurs in the test, this is what you need to know. When a woman is pregnant – or when a fertilised egg is implanted or attached to her uterine wall, to be precise – her body releases the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone, which is detectable in urine. OTC pregnancy tests are designed to detect the presence of this hormone in your urine and let you know within minutes whether you’re pregnant or not.
When should you take a pregnancy test?
Simply because it’s easy does not mean you should get up and take a pregnancy test any time you want. The following are some situations in which you should think about getting a pregnancy test:
- You’ve missed your period
- You have cramps which seem menstrual but you still don’t have your period
- Your breasts feel tender, sore or hurt
- You have nausea and feel more fatigued than usual
- You’re experiencing mood swings and/or food aversions
How to take a home pregnancy test
The best time to take a pregnancy test is a week after your missed period because that’s when you’re more likely to get an accurate result. It’s also recommended that you take the test early in the morning with your first urine of the day because that has the highest HCG concentration. This also helps if you’re getting the test done too early in your pregnancy.
The idea of home pregnancy tests in movies and television shows might suggest that you have to pee on the stick, but that can be quite messy. It’s much easier to collect your urine in a clean and sanitised cup, and then either dip the test or use a dropper to put a sample in the designated area. It’s best to read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding this.
Most pregnancy tests these days barely take a few minutes to give you the results, and they’re more likely to be accurate than not. You could take another test a day later if you’re not sure you followed the instructions the right way. If the result is positive, you should ideally make an appointment with a gynaecologist as soon as possible, because planned or accidental, a doctor is the best person to guide you through the next steps while keeping your health and wellbeing the foremost priority.
For more information, read our article on Pregnancy tests.
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