Home Pregnancy Test (cont.)
During the Procedure
For most home pregnancy tests, you either hold a test strip in your urine stream as you urinate into the toilet or you collect your urine in a clean cup and dip your test strip into the cup. If you are pregnant, most test strips produce a colored line, but this will depend on the brand you purchased. Read directions carefully to interpret the results. Read the instructions for the test you bought and follow them carefully. Make sure you know how to get good results. The test usually takes only a few minutes.
Types of home use test kits
- Some tests are able to detect low levels of hCG, indicating pregnancy. For the most reliable results, test 1-2 weeks after you miss your period. There are some tests for sale that are sensitive enough to show you are pregnant before you miss your period.
- You can improve your chances for an accurate result by using your first morning urine for the test. This urine has accumulated in your bladder overnight. If you are pregnant, it will have more hCG in it than urine collected later in the day.
- If you think you are pregnant, but your first test was negative, you can take the test again after several days. Because the amount of hCG increases rapidly when you are pregnant, you may get a positive test on later days. Some test kits come with more than one test in them to allow you to repeat the test.
- The home pregnancy test and the urine pregnancy test used by your health care provider are similar. Both can detect hCG, but your provider is probably more experienced in running the test. The doctor may follow up with a more sensitive blood test to see if you are pregnant and may conduct a physical exam for a more reliable result.
- The most common kits use a test strip or dipstick, which you hold in your urine as you urinate into the toilet. With other tests you may urinate into a cup and dip the test strip into the cup. A section of the strip changes color if hCG is detected - showing that you are probably pregnant.
- Some kits contain a urine collection cup with a built-in testing device. You either put a few drops of urine into the device or immerse the device into urine in a cup. Again, a test strip changes color, showing positive or negative for pregnancy.
Other, less frequently used test kits require you to mix urine samples with powders or liquids. The chemical reaction
produced shows a color change, which you compare to a chart for interpretation.
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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