Most Moms and Moms to be, no matter how far along their journey to conceiving they may be, have experienced the nerves, thrill and anticipation of taking a pregnancy test. Like many women who track their periods and ovulation dates; the so called ‘two week’ wait before discovering whether or not you are officially pregnant can be fairly agonizing, with many struggling to wait and opting to test early (with mixed results!)
If you’re taking a pregnancy test for the first time, knowing where to start can be a little daunting, with far more options than simply pee’ing on a stick! Nowadays, very few women rely on a doctor to confirm a pregnancy using a blood test, and actually test for their pregnancy by themselves at home. But what are the choices and which kind of test is best for you?
Most pregnancy tests work by measuring the level of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in your urine. It is recommended that you do the test with your first urine of the day, where the urine is most concentrated and therefore levels are easily to detect. The level of HCG in your urine increases rapidly each day during early pregnancy, so the higher the HCG level they detect, the further along your pregnancy is likely to be.
The Types of Pregnancy Test
Standard Urine Pregnancy Tests
Most standard pregnancy tests work via a strip of paper that once exposed to urine changes color.
With a standard urine pregnancy test you should take them once your period due date has passed or is effectively ‘late’. After urinating on the test stick, you are required to look firstly for a control line (to check the validity of the test) and a second line (or cross depending on the brand) which indicates a positive result. If no line second appears then you are not pregnant.
The biggest challenge of urine pregnancy tests is that they are open to user error – both in administering the pregnancy test or in interpreting the results. If you leave the test too long after the recommended development time (normally around 3 minutes), evaporation lines can appear which can lead people to believe they are seeing a positive result. It is also possible to believe you can see a very feint positive line, but it’s so feint that it’s hard to be sure; meaning many women end up taking multiple tests to try and confirm the result. It is also possible to take a pregnancy test too soon with a standard test; meaning you can get a negative test but still be pregnant. A bit of a minefield!
Early Detection tests
For the impatient amongst us, (guilty as charged), a slightly more expensive pregnancy test option is an early detection test. These urine based tests are able to detect much lower levels of HCG, and as such can detect pregnancy even before a missed period. (Usually up to 6 days before). With many women knowing their bodies well, and potentially recognizing some of the very early signs of pregnancy, this option allows them to test even before the date that their period would normally be due. I took this kind of test with my first because I just had a feeling I was pregnant, even though I was a few days premature for my period. I was right!
The risk of testing prior to your missed period however is that there is such a thing as a chemical pregnancy, giving you a positive result but then still getting your period as expected. This can lead to huge disappointment and upset so if you can wait, it may be more reliable to do so.
Digital Pregnancy tests
If you want to make interpreting your pregnancy test results as easy as possible, and are willing to pay a little more for the benefit, digital pregnancy tests are a great option.
Still urine based, but with no symbols to interpret or look out for, the digital pregnancy tests tell you your results in a really clear written form ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’ and also provide an estimation of how many weeks pregnant you are likely to be based on the HCG levels present in your urine.
There’s no need to interpret lines or symbols and far less risk of getting confused and reading it wrong. It’s important to note however that digital ones don’t display the “pregnant’ message forever, so if you want to keep it as a memento, take a photo!
Whichever test you opt for, make sure the test is in date and not expired. If you have some in the back of your bathroom cabinets that have been there since you had your first born, check the date, or head out and buy some fresh ones!
Read the instructions fully before you take the test, as different brands have different waiting times and try not to check the test before the time recommended on the packaging, as some may appear to show pregnant until the test is complete.
If there is any doubt, you can ask your doctor to take a urine pregnancy test for you, or repeat the test again a few days later.
Wishing you all the best for a positive result!