Home Pregnancy Tests: Are they reliable?
Have you missed a period? Are your breasts sore or perhaps your early morning wake up call is a dose of nausea? Could you be pregnant? Could your ovulation calculator have actually worked and your efforts in trying-to-conceive, have finally come to fruition? Resulting in a hasty appointment with a pregnancy test.
Whether you have been focusing your efforts on trying-to-conceive for a while or perhaps this is a surprise in the making, the taking of a pregnancy test can be nerve-racking, particularly if you harbour doubts as to whether you can actually trust the results. Knowing when and how to take your pregnancy test is vital in ensuring your results are accurate and you and your partner can begin to make plans for the journey ahead.
When is the best time to take a pregnancy test?
The majority of market leading brands such as Clearblue and First Response deliver results as early as the first day of a missed period – or even earlier. For a result not open to interpretation, waiting to take a pregnancy test until one week after a missed period, will give a definitive result.
Your body will begin to release the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) into your bloodstream and urine shortly after a fertilised egg attaches to your uterine lining. In the very early stages of pregnancy the HCG increases rapidly, often doubling every two to three days, there are pregnancy tests that may detect your pregnancy at this stage, though the HCG will have increased substantially by the week after your missed period, confirming with no doubt that you are indeed pregnant. It is crucial that you confirm your pregnancy as soon as possible as this will enable you to begin supplementation with Folic Acid which is vital in the formation of the spinal and neurological processes of your growing baby
What are the different types of home pregnancy tests?.
There are a variety of pregnancy tests available depending on your preference, though all will feature the collection of urine in a cup or indeed onto a pregnancy testing strip. Pregnancy tests available are:
- Midstream Pregnancy Test: Collecting your urine midstream, brands such as Clearblue and First Response allow you to urinate directly onto the top of the stick as the sample is collected – midstream.
- Pregnancy Test Strips: A low cast format suitable for all women, a pregnancy testing strip requires you to either urinate directly onto the strip or to place the strip in a urine speciman jar. Brands such as Core offer HCG pregnancy test strips that are a quick, fuss free manner in which to test for pregnancy. Please note pregnancy testing strips are not available through retail outlets and can only be found online through sites such as FertilityStore.ie
- Digital Pregnancy Test: Offering an easy to read screen a digital pregnancy test delivers results via urinating directly onto the strip or placing the test into a urine speciman jar. The digital pregnancy tests from brands such as Clearblue actually state the words ‘pregnant’ and can even give a date of conception, they are extremely concise and accurate.
How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
Brands such as Cleablue, First Response and Core offer up to 99% accuracy, it is important to read the instructions on your pregnancy test of choice, as different brands offer various percentages of accuracy. For example the Clearblue Pregnancy Test Double Check and Date gives a postive result from the day your period is actually due, and can confirm how many weeks ago you conceived with 99% accuracy.
Can medications interfer with my pregnancy test results?
Fertility drugs and medications that contain HCG may interfere with your results, however most medications including birth control pills and antiobiotics don’t usually affect the accuracy of your pregnancy test.
Can a positive result be wrong?
An extremely rare occurrence, however it can be possible to get a false positive result when you are not actually pregnant. A false positive may happen if you have miscarried shortly after the fertilised egg attached to your uterine lining (this is called a biochemical pregnancy) or if you have taken a pregnancy test too soon after taking a fertility drug that contains HCG. Unfortunately an ectopic pregnancy or the menopause can also contribute to false positives.
Can a negative result be wrong?
Again it is possible to get a negative result from a pregnancy test when you are infact pregnant. This is termed a false-negative and is more likely to occur than a false-positive. You may get a false-positive reading if you:
- Take the pregnancy test too early: Remembering for the most accurate results take your pregnancy test one week after a missed period, when the level of HCG in your urine is more prevalent. If you take it too early it may not detect your levels of HCG giving you a false-negative.
- Checking your results too soon: Always follow the instructions included with your pregnancy test. Give the test time to work.
- Use diluted urine: Consuming too much fluid before taking your pregnancy test may cause a false-negative result. For the optimal results, take your pregnancy test first thing in the morning, when your urine is at it’s most concentrated.