Pregnancy can be an exhausting, yet amazing experience. Your excitement at learning that you are going to be a mother soon is likely to turn into impatience for your delivery date as the pregnancy progresses and you begin to learn to live with an enlarging belly and continuous feeling of nausea.
What are the first signs of pregnancy?
Missed period is usually the earliest sign in most people. Women suspect pregnancy when they stop bleeding for a month or two after a sexual exposure. Implantation bleeding, or spotting, as it is commonly referred to, may often be misleading in this regard. The fact that mild cramps are known to accompany spotting makes it difficult to distinguish from normal menstruation.
Spotting only occurs when you are pregnant. So if you are experiencing small amounts of brownish blood for a few hours or even a couple of days, it probably means you are somewhere in the first trimester of pregnancy.
If your urge to use the washroom has increased in the last few days, chances are you are either pregnant or suffering from diabetes. Your pregnancy may lead you to feel increased bladder pressure as early as 5 to 6 weeks of pregnancy. The symptoms theoretically lessen as the pregnancy progresses through the second trimester.
Many first time mothers encounter changes in breast during week 8 to week 12. Pregnancy is a time when the body’s hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, make merry. This leads to some notable changes in and around the breasts. There is significant darkening in the area surrounding the nipple, as the breasts gradually become heavier and fuller.
Fatigue, frequent mood swings, changes in appetite, cravings for a particular food, and often morning sickness indicate pregnancy in early stages. In order to be absolutely certain about whether you are pregnant or not, you need to take a few confirmatory tests and repeat them after a few days.
What tests can you perform to detect pregnancy?
The laboratory tests to detect pregnancy involve testing of blood for a hormone called, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). This is the same hormone that you try to detect in a urine test conducted at home with the help of your pregnancy kit. In both the cases, presence of hCG is a confirmation of pregnancy. Advanced non-invasive procedures like sonogram are more sophisticated ways to know whether you are pregnant.
How soon can you detect pregnancy with these tests?
Pregnancy can be detected as early as 5 days before your first missed period. This is around a week or so after fertilisation of your egg. Taking a urine test around this time may give a positive result if you are pregnant.
Another reliable method to confirm pregnancy is with the help of a sonogram. Your physician is likely to advise you to undergo a procedure called transvaginal ultrasonography which can confirm pregnancy as early as the 5th week. Sonogram also lets you detect heart sounds of your fetus towards the end of the second month of pregnancy.
Is it possible to detect pregnancy accurately before a missed period?
Presence of hCG in urine or blood can be established as early as 5 days before a missed period by a process named ELISA. So if you are in a hurry, you can always rely on that test to detect pregnancy from a sample of blood. It is the most advanced method used nowadays and possesses the ability to confirm your suspicions even before the initial symptoms begin to show.
That said, pregnancy tests are generally conducted after the first missed period, so as to minimize the chances of a false negative result. The principal of confirming pregnancy lies in detection of the hormone hCG, and adequate amount of it is required to be present in urine or blood for the test to detect it.
However, false positive and false negative results are not unheard of. The former can be obtained in conditions like choriocarcinoma, ectopic pregnancy, and hydatidiform mole where this hCG hormone is produced abundantly. False negative results can occur if the tests are not done properly. A repeat test after a few days usually helps in settling that issue.
It must not be forgotten that the estimated age of pregnancy at which different tests are said to be accurate is likely to vary from one woman to another, and hence, there is no fool-proof answer to how soon you can detect your pregnancy.