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Home Pregnancy Test Basics

Years ago, there were various home remedy ideas for women who wanted to know if they were pregnant. Many didn’t work. While women found it best at home to find out when they were pregnant, the accuracy of these tests weren’t very good and, while they were free, these home made remedies didn’t take the place of seeing the doctor for the most accurate and most sensitive methods of determining whether or not you were pregnant.

Home remedies and DIY methods of determining pregnancy have fortunately given way to home pregnancy tests that can accurately determine pregnancy nearly as soon as a blood pregnancy test you get at your doctor’s office. These home pregnancy tests are easy to use, cheap, and can give you your answer in the privacy of your own home.

Years ago, there were various home remedy ideas for women who wanted to know if they were pregnant. Many didn’t work. While women found it best at home to find out when they were pregnant, the accuracy of these tests weren’t very good and, while they were free, these home made remedies didn’t take the place of seeing the doctor for the most accurate and most sensitive methods of determining whether or not you were pregnant.

Home remedies and DIY methods of determining pregnancy have fortunately given way to home pregnancy tests that can accurately determine pregnancy nearly as soon as a blood pregnancy test you get at your doctor’s office. These home pregnancy tests are easy to use, cheap, and can give you your answer in the privacy of your own home.

If you are trying to get pregnant through natural methods rather than IVF, home kits are perfectly adequate for determining pregnancy. If you want to do it without a kit, you can simply wait until you have missed your menstrual period and can see your doctor about determining whether or not this means you are pregnant. Your doctor can measure HCG levels in your bloodstream or urine to see if you are actually pregnant.

If you are trying to determine pregnancy after IV procedures, you will often have a blood test at your doctor’s office to determine pregnancy. The best time to do this is after the embryo has been inserted for a minimum of nine days. Even then, it may take longer for a blood pregnancy test to show that you are pregnant because implantation can take up to eleven days after insertion of the embryo.

At Home Pregnancy Test Instructions

How soon can you take a home pregnancy test? That truly depends on the test. Companies that make the First Response or the Ept home pregnancy tests make tests that can detect pregnancies as soon as 5-6 days before your missed period. These tests can be the kind that shows a faint line when you are pregnant or digital tests that just say “yes” or “no” or maybe say “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant”. Digital tests are more expensive and are less ambiguous than tests showing lines.

The best test for you is one that you can easily interpret and that will give you results you can understand. Make sure you read the instructions on any home pregnancy test you do so that you don’t get a false positive or false negative. Try to read the directions before urinating so you know whether or not you have to urinate on the stick or in a cup and for how long you have to wait to expect an accurate response from the test. Most instructions will show you pictures that will define what a positive test looks like and what a negative or invalid test will look like.

What is the Best Home Pregnancy Test?

There are different types of home pregnancy tests, most of which advertise being able to tell if you are pregnant before your missed period. The best way to pick out a pregnancy test is to consider facts such as cost and ease of reading the test. Digital tests are easier to read but are more expensive than the two line tests. The most effective test is one that has easy to read instructions and easy to interpret results. There is no such thing as the “fastest” pregnancy test because they all give you results within 2-3 minutes.

There are many test brands that you can choose from, such as the Ept test, the First Response test, One Step, or even a generic brand of test. All measure the amount of HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin in the urine so that you basically get the same results from any test you choose. If you get a negative test, it helps to choose a test brand that offers more than one pregnancy test per pack. That way you can wait a day or two and repeat the test to see if you had a false negative test or if you tested too early. Each pregnancy varies in the amount of HCG in the blood and urine so you can have low HCG levels at the beginning of the pregnancy. As long as the HCG levels double every 48 hours, the pregnancy is considered to be healthy.

How Accurate are Home Pregnancy Tests?

The tests tend to be more accurate if you use a first morning urine specimen. Then the urine is the most concentrated and can pick up the HCG levels earlier in the pregnancy. Some people wonder how to make a home pregnancy test but really, in order to have an accurate test, you need to purchase a test from the pharmacy or grocery store. These are accurate and sensitive for low levels of HCG, sometimes as low as 25 mIU/ml. Older tests did not show that you were pregnant until you had missed your period because they were not sensitive enough to pick up low levels of the HCG hormone.

The downside of really accurate tests is that you can pick up a pregnancy that is destined to go to a miscarriage around the time of your missed period. Rather than implantation bleeding, the bleeding represents a miscarriage that would not have been detected as such unless you had the falsely positive test. More often than we know, a pregnancy can be started and implantation will have happened but the pregnancy is unhealthy, leading to a miscarriage around the time of the missed period. Before there were such accurate testing of the urine, these miscarriages were not identified.

Now, false positives can happen in pregnancies that do not get past the first few days of gestation. This can be helpful, however, if it seems to happen more often than just once. Women with luteal phase defects can lose a pregnancy in the first few days because the pregnancy is not supported by the corpus luteum of the ovary so the pregnancy is lost. This is a treatable condition that can mean that progesterone is given until the implanted pregnancy can support itself and there will be much fewer pregnancy losses.

Blood tests are the most accurate but they require a visit to the doctor’s office and a bit of a wait while the test is being processed. Those who have IVF procedures often have blood tests so they can find out as soon as possible if the implantation was successful. Implantation bleeding can be disconcerting because it may feel like you’re having a miscarriage but, as long as the serum quantitative HCG test is in the normal range and the level doubles in 48 hours, the pregnancy is still viable.

How Does a Home Pregnancy Test Work?

Home pregnancy tests are no different from blood tests in that they both measure HCG levels. Blood tests will give you an actual number indicating the level of HCG in the blood, while urine tests tend to say positive or negative without an actual level given. In general, the thicker and darker the line, the greater is the level of HCG in the urine. The test is ideally done on a first morning specimen when the urine is concentrated with higher levels of HCG per ml when compared to urine samples taken later in the day. If you get a negative test but the sample was taken later in the day, try doing another test the following morning to see if it is positive.

There is usually a reference line in the test that indicates that the test is working and is valid. The second line is the indicator line that tells you if you are pregnant or not. How effective are home pregnancy tests? Generally, they are getting more and more effective all the time with decreased false negative and false positive rates. In the future, tests may be available that will tell you if you are pregnant as soon as implantation occurs, which is generally 9 days after fertilization (at the earliest).

How Accurate are Home Pregnancy Test Instructions?

Most pregnancy test kits go to great pains to provide you with easy to understand instructions. They know that you’re generally nervous when taking a pregnancy test so they make the test instructions simple to follow. It is up to you to read them in advance and to take a look at the illustrations given as part of the instructions. That way you can accurately read the test without difficulty after you do the urination step.

Take care to make sure you understand the directions from the pregnancy test before going ahead with the test. Doing the test the wrong way can give you a false negative or false positive result. Try not to get different kinds of tests because they all have different instructions. Once you have a pregnancy test you know the directions to and can interpret, you will have an easier time redoing the test if you accidentally try to get a positive pregnancy test when it is technically too early to get an HCG reading indicating you are pregnant.

Can a Home Pregnancy Test be Wrong?

All tests can have false positives and false negatives. Even expensive home pregnancy tests or blood tests can show false positives or false negatives. The way to reduce the incidence of these anomalies is to make sure you read the instructions, follow the directions and try not to test when it is too early in the cycle to have a positive test. You need to have implantation of the embryo in order to have HCG from the embryo and growing placenta show up in maternal serum. If you believe your pregnancy test is wrong, see your doctor for further evaluation, which most likely will include a quantitative HCG level in your bloodstream. This blood test is very accurate and can tell you if you have a healthy pregnancy as long as you have two tests 48 hours apart showing doubling of the HCG level. This is often done for women at risk for miscarriage or for those who have undergone an IVF procedure. These women are often followed more closely, especially in the beginning of the pregnancy when the reproductive specialist is trying to determine if the implantation actually took hold.

What Tests Come After a Positive Pregnancy Test?

Usually the positive pregnancy test (through urine or blood) is just the start of the testing done in a pregnancy. At the first prenatal visit, for example, there are blood tests for blood typing, hematocrit, RPR, and rubella titer. Some doctors routinely do HIV testing and testing for other sexually transmitted diseases at the first prenatal visit. A hemoglobin or hematocrit test is done periodically throughout the pregnancy to make sure you are not anemic. Vitamin D testing is becoming a common test to do throughout the pregnancy as there is evidence to suggest that many women are unknowingly low in vitamin D levels.

Besides blood tests, there is chorionic villus sampling or CVS testing. Not every woman elects to have this test, which is a test in which the doctor takes a piece of the placenta in the late first trimester in order to look for genetic anomalies. The CVS test can act as a gender test because, besides showing any genetic defects, it automatically determines the gender of the baby, many weeks before an ultrasound or even an amniocentesis can show the gender of the child.

Other women forego the CVS test and just go ahead and wait until the safer amniocentesis test is available. At the amniocentesis test, the gender of the child is determined and, if there are specific genetic defects, such as Down syndrome or Trisomy 18, this test will show these abnormalities. Both the chorionic villous sampling and the amniocentesis give you the same information but the CVS test will give it to you earlier in the pregnancy when compared to the amniocentesis test.

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