Home Pregnancy Tests – Types of Tests, Understanding the Results

Home pregnancy test

Being pregnant and being able to bring a child of one’s own, into this world, can be a very joyous and exciting prospect for a woman. After months or years of harbouring hope, it can indeed be fulfilling and beyond overwhelming for a woman to get a “positive” result in her pregnancy test. However, this is also often a jittery and anxious affair for most women, and it is natural that one would prefer to have it done in the comfort of their own homes. This is where home pregnancy tests come in handy.

In this article, we shall analyze in detail, about Home Pregnancy Tests, learn about its proper usage, and its advantages as well as disadvantages.

CONTENTS

  1. What is a Home Pregnancy Test?
  2. When should a Home Pregnancy Test be performed?
  3. What are the different types of Home Pregnancy Tests available?
  4. How should a Home Pregnancy Test be done?
  5. How should a Home Pregnancy Test be interpreted?
  6. How accurate are the results of a Home Pregnancy Test?
  7. What is a false negative test result?
  8. What is a false positive test result?
  9. What is the next step after a positive test result in a Home Pregnancy Test?

1. What Is A Home Pregnancy Test?

After successful fertilization and implantation of the zygote to the uterine wall, the placenta begins to develop. This produces and releases a hormone called the “Human Chorionic Gonadotropin” or hCG, also known as the “pregnancy hormone”. This takes about 2 weeks to become detectable in the urine. 

A Home Pregnancy Test is a simple device that detects the presence of hCG in a woman’s urine, which if present in detectable quantities, gives a positive reading. It is the most hassle-free, accessible and convenient way to detect pregnancy early.

PRINCIPLE:  A home pregnancy test is a rapid chromatographic immunoassay for the qualitative detection of human chorionic gonadotropin in urine.

2. When should a Home Pregnancy Test be performed?

For obtaining the most accurate result, it is ideal to wait at least a week after a missed period. If one does not want to wait until a missed period, then a home pregnancy test can be performed after at least 1-2 weeks after sexual intercourse. This time frame allows an adequate window for the hCG levels to become detectable in urine after implantation. If the test is carried out too early in the cycle, inaccurate, negative test results may be obtained.

Additionally, a pregnancy test can be carried out if one experiences the following symptoms, especially if they arise, following an unprotected intercourse:

  • A missed period
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Frequent urination
  • Sensitive, swollen, tender breasts
  • Nausea, aversion to certain food
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling indifferent 

3. What are the different types of Home Pregnancy Tests available?

Essentially all Home Pregnancy Tests work using the same principle. Different Test Kits from different manufacturers, may have different designs (some have double pink or blue lines while some others may have a plus or minus sign, and others with words like “yes”/”no” or “pregnant”/”not pregnant”) or different applicators.

Most manufacturers recommend that Home Pregnancy Tests should be taken twice, since results may vary if the test is taken too early in the cycle.

4. How should a Home Pregnancy Test be done?

Using a Home Pregnancy Test is simple, effective and quick. It requires little to no skill and can be easily performed by a woman, without guidance. It is important to read and understand the instructions of each test kit. Depending on the type of test used, one may have to do the test in one of the following ways:

  • collect urine in a cup and dip the end of the testing stick into the liquid
  • collect urine in a cup and use an eyedropper to move a small amount of fluid into a special container
  • place the testing stick into the area of the expected urine stream so that it will catch the urine midstream

5. How should a Home Pregnancy Test be interpreted?

After performing the test, by accurately following instructions, one has to wait the recommended time before proceeding to check the result. It is advised to perform the test using the first urine in the day, since hCG levels tend to become more concentrated in the urine during the night.

A POSITIVE test result can present in one of the following ways:

  1. A change in colour
  2. Appearance of a line
  3. Appearance of a symbol such as + or –
  4. The words “pregnant” or “not pregnant”

6. How accurate are the results of a Home Pregnancy Test?

The accuracy rate of a home pregnancy test kit is usually about 99%, provided the instructions  for taking the test are followed without error.

Some of the factors determining the accuracy of these tests are:

  1. The time of taking the test
  2. Concentration of the urine

7. What is a False Negative test result?

Sometimes, the test results may show pregnancy as “negative” despite really being pregnant. This is defined as a “False Negative” test result. These can happen due to a variety of reasons such as:

  1. Testing too early in pregnancy: The hCG levels are too low, to be detected by the test in such a case.
  2. Giving the test inadequate time to perform, before checking the result.
  3. Dilute urine.

8. What is a False Positive test result?

Although extremely rare, sometimes the home pregnancy test may report a “positive” result, even though the person is not pregnant in reality. This is referred to as a “False Positive” result.

This can occur due to the following conditions:

  1. Chemical Pregnancy
  2. Ectopic Pregnancy
  3. Recent miscarriage or abortion
  4. User error
  5. Evaporation lines
  6. Certain medications like :
    • Anti-anxiety medications, like diazepam or alprazolam
    • Antipsychotics, such as clozapine or chlorpromazine
    • Anticonvulsants, like phenobarbital or other barbiturates
    • Anti-Parkinson’s drugs: bromocriptine
    • Diuretics, like furosemide 
    • Antihistamines, including promethazine
    • Methadone

9. What is the next step after a positive test result in a Home   Pregnancy Test?

The very first thing to do after a positive test result, is to visit an Obstetrician, and get registered for pregnancy. The doctor will confirm pregnancy, recommend further ante-natal investigations, schedule checkups, and may prescribe medicines such as Iron and Folate when required.

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