Home Pregnancy Tests

Abstract: Now more than ever, women are "taking charge of their fertility" and focusing in the nuances of their reproductive/preconception health. This means that relying solely on specialists and medical technocrats is out while self-education, self-care, and self-testing are in. This is not to imply that you do not need a doctor or medical advice before, during and after pregnancy. It does imply, however, that achieving a healthy pregnancy is, above all, in your hands, a responsibility that begins well before conception even takes place. This article deals with the fundamentals of taking charge of female fertility (read: ovulation prediction), home diagnostic kits (read: ovulation and pregnancy tests) and monitoring possible early signs of pregnancy. We'll also examine a few primary considerations before you even try to conceive.

The Preconception Preliminaries for Trying to Conceive Couples

If you're trying to conceive or think you may be pregnant, click here to learn about basic TTC Tips. This article offers well-known TTC basics like taking folic acid-containing prenatal vitamins to less well-known facts on how changing kitty litter (believe it or not) can jeopardize the health of your developing baby. In other words, make sure you check your TTC checklist...

Once you have covered the bases of preconceptional health - a sound diet, a preconceptional check-up with your doctor, regularly taking a prenatal vitamin, desisting from drinking, smoking, and other nasty habits, etc - it's time to take charge of your fertility. And that comes down self-education, or Baby-Making 101.

Taking a pregnancy test is very rarely the first staging point for couples actively trying to become pregnant. The first step is knowing when you are most fertile, or predicting ovulation (read: fertility charting). If you can anticipate when you ovulate during each menstrual then you can most certainly increase the odds of conceiving each cycle. For a basic overview and definition of ovulation, click here.

Predicting your ovulation date revolves around a constellation of physiological and diagnostic factors: the more variables that you monitor, the finer tuned your fertility awareness will be. These basic factors include monitoring fluctuations in basal temperature, monitoring qualitative changes cervical fluids/cervix position, and using various ovulation testing devices. There are many options for the latter, all of which track the rise and fall of specific reproductive hormones as you progress through your cycle toward peak fertility. To learn more about using a fertility chart or test kits, check out related articles here.

Pregnancy Test Information - All the Facts for Home Use....

Human chorionic gonadotropin is the hormone generated by developing placental tissue directly following a pregnancy. Here, pregnancy is defined not as the moment of conception, but as the moment a fertilized egg, or embryo, implants in the lining of the mother's womb. Human chorionic gonadotropin is the hormone that triggers a positive response (the appearance of a test line or symbol) on a home pregnancy test. When the technically requisite amount of human chorionic gonadotropin becomes present in a urine sample, the diagnostic kit will signal a pregnancy! Depending on test sensitivity and the amount of pregnancy hormone in your urine, you can determine if you are pregnant as early as one week after you ovulate.

Selecting A Home Pregnancy Test

There are a number of home pregnancy test kits available today, which essentially offer an identical test reagent (or chemical reaction modality), but come available in divergent formats or housing. The original home kits - rarely available today - involve combining a woman's urine in test tubes with various chemical liquids to see what color resolves from the admixture. Besides being rather messy, this method is labor intensive and such test kits have dropped off the map.

Newer testing kits have basically recaptured the "liquid processes" of the older method and situated them in stable, dry testing formats. Today, you can select a pregnancy test in dipstick (requires that you urinate in a cup) or handle formats (allows you to hold the test directly below a stream of urine). Digital pregnancy testing kits have also recently shown up, but the advantage of the digital kits is not in accuracy, but in the "easy-read" interfaces that provide unambiguous interpretation. Check the sensitivity of each test brand so you know when to start testing. The more sensitive the kit, the sooner you can begin testing. If you are really interested in the history of this technology, you can rent the movie Singles, filmed in the early 90s, which shows the use of an older test-tube kit. Otherwise, you probably won't find these versions available in stores or from online vendors of home/preconception diagnostics.

Accuracy: Regardless of test type of format, the kits available today are incredibly accurate, granted that you, as a consumer and "home clinician", carefully observe the details of procedural and interpretive methodology. In other words, read - and follow - directions, as home pregnancy tests should be approached as if you were, in theory, in a lab following austere guidelines.

Most instructions today suggest that you allow urine to accumulate in your bladder for several hours before taking a sample. Ideally, the first urine of the day after a good night sleep is considered the best; it will contain a more concentrate level of human chorionic gonadotropin. On the other side of the spectrum, peeing often and consuming water, tea, coffee, etc will compromise the concentration of a given urine sample and may ultimately "miss" or defer an actual positive result.

Accuracy depends on a few things beside when you elect to test during the day, but when you elect to test during your cycle. If you go to a website like Drugstore.com you can read customer reviews of even the most "error-proof" pregnancy test; likely you will find many mixed experiences and claims that the product did not work. It's not so much that a given test is defective or faulty, but more the case that other human variables impact accuracy. In other words, there are physiological and timing factors that influence the production rates of human chorionic gonadotropin by the body. In some cases, implantation day may vary or, more simply, the production rate of human chorionic gonadotropin will be faster or slower among some women. Again, selecting a high sensitivity kit will allow you to start testing sooner than less sensitive brands. In any case, if you do receive a negative result and you believe you may be pregnant, it is advised to perform follow ups. Again, instructional inserts will provide you with the information you need to know when to begin using the kit.

Avoiding Error & False Results: Checklist for Pregnancy Testing

First, ensure that the kit is new. Each package or foil wrapper will provide you with an expiry date. Test reagents have a time limit for efficacy. If the test is expired, return it to the store or vendor for replacement. This is rarely a problem, though I have encountered dust-covered packaging in out of the way pharmacies that may suggest you check the expiration date before tossing the kit into your basket. As for storing the test, do ensure that it is not subjected to extremes of temperatures and that the kit remains unopened until use. Keep in a cool, dry place.

As suggested above, read all the details, tips, and guidelines included with a test. This goes for interpretation as well. Once the test has been interpreted, discard (while there may some impulse or compulsion to "re-read" a final result, do not return to the test hours or days later to confirm the result as there are possible chemical factors that may cause confusion - e.g., ghost lines or evaporation markers). In short, use a watch or timer if the instructions indicate a time-frame for interpretation (usually a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes following initial contact with a urine specimen).

Other things to look out for? If you are collecting urine in a cup (for dipstip use) then simply make sure that the cup is clean and dry and devoid of soap or detergent residue. While very little can interfere with a pregnancy test in terms of food, drink, or over-the-counter medicines, detergents or soap residue in a sample cup may be a problem.

As for prescription drugs, there are very few to worry about. The drugs that may be an issue are those that actually contain the hormone you are testing for: human chorionic gonadotropin. Essentially, only a few fertility drugs designed to normalize hormonal balance and help induce ovulation will contain the pregnancy hormone. Ask your doctor.

Other issues that might confound a result include testing too early in your cycle or "compromising" a sample by too-frequent-urination or drinking a lot of liquids just prior to use. Again, follow up tests are recommended if you elect to start using a home test kit on the early side...

If you are experiencing pregnancy symptoms or believe that you may be pregnant, you can contact your doctor as a blood test can provide accurate readings sooner than urine.

For more details on pregnancy tests, click here.

Other Articles:
What Can My BBT Chart Tell Me?
Timing & Frequency of Intercourse
Primary & Secondary Signs of Ovulation
Tips for Getting Pregnant

Read More:

Comments

Doctor, my girlfriend and I had sex 3 weeks ago and she is 4 days past her period. She vomits in the morning and is cranky. Is she sick or pregnant?

I had sex with my boyfriend a day after my menstruation, can I be pregnant. .......I am alrdy noticing pregnancy symptoms- tender breast- pimple (i never use to have)-tiredness-discharge etc can I be pregnant or is it my mind?

My period started on the 16 of December 11- 22 of december 11 and I had intercourse with my boyfriend on the 26th of December 2012. It is past 21 days now as at 16th of January 2012 and I havent had my mentruation or period yet. Im two days late, I am having only white or milky discharge. Could I be pregnant?

Doc,i had ma menses in 19th day of sept but i d'nt remember the last time i had sex and is pass the 28 day have not seen my period. No changes on my body but why?

I had sex after my ovulation period.my last date of periods was from 7th Aug .But now my periods are delayed 5 days.
Does that mean i am pregnant

hi i had sex with my husband before 10days.my last due date is june 24 2011.

My period started on the 16 of May 11 and I had intercourse with my boyfriend on the 22nd of May 2011. It is past 28th days now as at 14th of June 2011 and I havent had my mentruation or period yet. I am having only white or milky discharge. Could I be pregnant or not with the dates given or I could have my period later in the week?

Dear doc,

I had sex with my husband 3 weeks before.but after 1 week i started getting cramps and lower abdominal pain,tiredness,morining vomiting sensation,. i want to know am i pregant?

Dear doctor i do with my girlfriend sex but i didn't put drop inside her body but now she told me she didn't reach her period time so i have doubt she perganent or not how i know i can't visit doctor so please tell me how i know

for the last 2 months i have only had a 2 day period. its very light adn im wondering if im pregnant. ive takin a test but it came up negative.what do i do

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By TTC veteran and mother of two, Elizabeth Andrews.