Know all about pregnancy tests

What is Pregnancy Test?

Human Chorionic Gonadotropins (hCG) is an endocrine, which is also called the pregnancy hormone.  In a pregnancy test, the presence of hCG  hormone is measured in a woman’s body to know the positive or negative result.

The pregnancy and other hormones can be found in the blood and urine  as early as after 10-14 days  of conception and reach at the optimum level between 8 to 11 weeks of gestation.

hCG hormone helps in forming placenta that provides nourishment to the growing embryo through the umbilical cord.

Negative hCG

 Less than 5 milli-international units per milliliter (mlU/ml) indicates negative hCG.  That means there exists no pregnancy.

Positive hCG

25 milli-international units per milliliter (mlU/ml) or more hints at positive pregnancy.  Hey, you are pregnant!

How are pregnancy tests done?

There are two ways of testing pregnancy or presence of hCG hormone:

  • Urine testing for pregnancy

Urine testing for pregnancy can be performed at home by using a chemical strip.  First, the urine is collected in a collection cup.  Either the chemical strip is dipped in the urine or the urine is placed on it with the help of an eyedropper. It is approximately 1 – 2 minutes, depending on the brand of the chemical strip and instructions given therein.

Different brands of chemical strips give varied instructions for using them and reading the results.  It is advised to read the package insert for using and reading results.  In some, the color of the strip gets changed or a plus or minus symbol lights up on the strip.

Hey, we are in a digital era.  There is a horde of digital instruments that can measure hCG in your urine and pronounce the outcome.  You have to follow the instructions of their use and they, in turn, display the result:  Pregnant or Not pregnant.

  • Blood testing for pregnancy

Pregnancy test using blood is less performed than urine tests. Let us deliberate on its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages:

  • Early detection of pregnancy;
  • Ability to measure hCG concentration

Disadvantages:

  • It is more expensive than any of the urine tests;
  • It takes much longer to get the results; and
  • It cannot be done at home;

There are two types of blood pregnancy tests:

 Qualitative

The qualitative hCG test is performed to know whether hCG hormone is present.  It simply gives an answer in “Yes” or “No”. If you have missed your period and 10 or more days have passed, your doctor may ask you to undergo this test to confirm your pregnancy. There are, however, certain tests detect the presence of hCG much earlier than 10 days.

Quantitative

The quantitative hCG test is done to know the level of hCG hormone present in the blood. It can even find detect a low level of hCG.  Since the test helps in knowing the hCG concentrate in the blood, it is useful in tracking any kind of pregnancy problems. Because these pregnancy tests can measure the concentration of hCG, they may be helpful in tracking any problems during pregnancy.

This test is performed to:

Meaning of the pregnancy tests

If you receive a positive result: Congratulations, you are pregnant. It really does not matter, how fade the sign, color or line is. It is time to call on your gynecologist to seek guidance on some “Do’s and Don’ts”.

Exceptionally, you may get a false-positive result: You are not pregnant, but the test result defiantly pronounced you are. This generally happens because of the presence of blood or protein in your urine. Another reason for getting false-positive result may be because of the presence of certain drugs in your blood like tranquilizers, anti-convulsant or hypnotics.

 A Negative result simply means:  you are not pregnant.  However, you may still be pregnant if:

  • You have used the testing strip that had expired;
  • The test has not been properly done;
  • You have tested too early;
  • Your urine got too diluted because of consumption of a large amount of fluid before the test.
  • You are under some medication, such as diuretics or antihistamines.

If you suspect you have got a wrong negative pregnancy test result, you may like to retest within a week’s time.

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