Home pregnancy tests can be valuable tools if you want to determine whether you are pregnant. Instead of waiting to get in to see your doctor, you can stop at any drug store, and many grocery stores, and pick up a test. Within minutes of following the directions, you may have the answer for which you have been waiting.
You can take a home pregnancy test as soon as you suspect you might be pregnant, but you may want to follow some recommended guidelines to ensure an accurate reading. Some manufacturers of home pregnancy tests say you can use their tests as early as seven days after ovulation. The American Pregnancy Association reports you can use one at home the first day of a missed period. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, however, recommends waiting until one week after your first missed period to get an accurate result.
Home pregnancy tests measure the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) present in your urine. Unless you are injecting the hormone as part of an infertility treatment or some other medical condition, this hormone is only present in your body when you are pregnant. The further along in your pregnancy you are, the more hCG is present and the more accurate a home pregnancy test should be.
The type of pregnancy test you use can determine how soon you can use it. Different tests measure different amounts of hCG. Early response pregnancy tests claim to measure low levels of the pregnancy hormone, with some claiming to be sensitive enough to measure 20 mIU/ml of hCG, according to a report on the Pregnancy website. At this level of sensitivity, your pregnancy could show on the test within six to eight days of conception, which would be days before your first missed period.
The accuracy of an early test can vary for a variety of reasons, but most manufacturers report a 99 percent accuracy rate when you follow the included directions. The Pregnancy website reports a 90 percent accuracy rate for tests measuring between 20 and 25 mIU/ml of hCG. One week later, the accuracy increases to 97 percent. The American Pregnancy Association reports home pregnancy tests are 97 percent accurate when done correctly.
A pregnancy test showing a positive reading when you are not pregnant or one that shows a negative reading when you are pregnant results in a false reading. Aside from taking a test too early, other reasons may cause this to occur. Planned Parenthood reports an expired pregnancy test or using a test incorrectly can increase the potential for a false reading. If you think you have a false reading, wait a week and try another home pregnancy test. You can also schedule an appointment with your medical provider.
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