How Effective Are Early Pregnancy Tests?

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Whether you are excited or worried about the possibility of being pregnant, knowing that you can take an early pregnancy test can end the wondering. If you suspect that you are pregnant with symptoms, such as a missed period, breast tenderness, a sore back, nausea or fatigue, you might want to pick up an early pregnancy test or make an appointment with your doctor to make sure.

How They Work

Early pregnancy tests work by determining if you have the hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG or the pregnancy hormone, in your blood or urine. You only have this hormone when you are pregnant. About six days after your egg is fertilized, your body starts producing hCG. A pregnant woman’s hCG levels rapidly increase every two to three days.

Urine Tests

You can buy an at-home pregnancy test at the drugstore to test for hCG in your urine. Use it about a week after your missed period, recommends WebMD. You should get an accurate report if you follow the instructions on the package. Testing yourself first thing in the morning also helps with the accuracy of the test. Urine tests are about 97 percent accurate, according to WebMD. You can also further confirm the results by seeing your doctor, who can perform more tests.

Blood Tests

To detect a pregnancy even earlier, you can get a blood test from your doctor. A blood test can determine whether you are pregnant just six to eight days after you ovulate and is even more accurate than a urine test. The results of the blood test are not immediate as they are with the urine tests.

How to Use

Home pregnancy tests are inexpensive, costing between $8 and $20, as of 2010, and are easy to use. Depending on the test you choose, you either hold a stick under your urine stream, urinate in a cup and put the stick in that or urinate in a cup and use a dropper to put some urine into another container. In just a few minutes, sometimes immediately, you get your results. Positive means you are pregnant; negative means you are not.

The Results

If you get a negative result but are still having pregnancy symptoms, try retesting in four to seven days. You may have taken the test too early, the test you used may have expired, or your urine may have been too diluted to give you an accurate result. If you get a positive result, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. You can have a false positive if you are taking fertility drugs that contain hCG.

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