Pregnancy is one of those few things that can completely change your life. It is, therefore, important to be absolutely certain that you are pregnant before you let your world go upside down. As one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, a missed period may begin to worry you, but you must remember that absence of menstruation can occur due to several other reasons – both physiological and pathological.
A pregnancy test conducted at home is usually the best way to know whether you are pregnant. There are chances of getting a false positive or false negative result depending on when and how you conduct it, but if done right, it is almost 97.4% accurate.
Urine pregnancy tests work by detecting the levels of a hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) in your urine. This hormone is not normally found in your blood or urine. It appears in your urine only after the fertilised egg has been implanted into the uterine wall. The levels of hCG rises steadily from that point, doubling or tripling every three days or so.
So it is imperative that you wait until the day you expect your periods to begin in order to take the test. Pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy even 5 days before your first missed period, but the sensitivity of the test is low then, which makes it susceptible to false results.
What is correct method of performing the test?
Most pregnancy test kits come with instruction manuals. Going through the manual is extremely important because if not conducted properly, your pregnancy test will definitely mislead you. There are a variety of tests available and each is created differently. So even if you have performed a pregnancy test at home in the past, you need to read and completely understand the instruction manual of your new kit again since it may have different requirements.
Most pregnancy tests are simple to perform. The kits include a stick that contains an area to place your urine and a single or double window to show the result. You simply need to place the stick in your urine stream so as to catch the midstream urine. The results can be obtained within minutes.
How to read the result of the test?
In most cases, there is hardly any ambiguity, and results can be interpreted as either positive or negative. The test kit contains two windows, of which one is called the test window. This is typically the second window in line. It begins to show a line immediately after using the kit, implying that the test is in working condition.
The first window reveals whether you are pregnant or not. It is essential to wait until the allotted time is over before reading the test. Reading it too soon may result in incorrect inference.
A single line or two lines in the form of a plus sign appearing in the first window indicates you are pregnant. Absence of any line implies you are not. Even if the line is faint, it means you are pregnant.
Occasionally, there may be only one test window present in some kits. In this case, both the test line and the result line appear in the same window. So in order to be pregnant, you must have two lines – one test and one result line – next to each other. If you have a single line, it indicates your pregnancy test is negative. Often, it is easy to misread the pregnancy indicator line because of the faintness. So you need to be careful before you discard the test as a negative one.
What about digital pregnancy tests?
A digital pregnancy test is much easier to read and is popular because it does away with the line pattern. You no longer need to worry about the faintness of the pregnancy indicator and be apprehensive about reading it wrong.
The result is plainly displayed as ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’ in the result window. Hence it is clear, unambiguous and indisputable. It is this advantage of the digital pregnancy test that has made it so popular.
An hourglass shaped figure appears in the results window as you wait for the result. It serves as an indicator for the proper functioning of the kit. So if you don’t see the hourglass, it is probably time to discard it and get a new test.
Although the accuracy of home pregnancy tests is pretty high, it is important to confirm pregnancy with other tests like ultrasound and radioimmunoassay as well. Since the time frame for physiological changes differs from one individual to another, a repeat test is always advisable.