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The pregnancy test shows two dark lines, congratulations! πŸŽ‰ A mix of intense emotions is kicking in, you're wondering what to do next...

Why don't you start with reading? Keep scrolling to find out a few crucial points about hCG tests and their applications.

πŸ’‘ This article is a part of a bigger series, based on our pregnancy test calculator.

What is a pregnancy test, and how does it work?

Do you think you may have a bun in the oven? It's time to take a test!

Pregnancy tests are used to detect and confirm early pregnancies. Doctors may also utilize them to diagnose many conditions connected to gestation. 🀰

All available pregnancy tests detect hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone that is released by the embryo and the placenta and is crucial at the beginning of the pregnancy. HCG is first released into the bloodstream, and then is passed into the urine. Its concentration should double every two days and reach its peak around the 10th week of gestation.

There are different types of pregnancy tests: the ones you can take home (they can test both urine and blood) and the confirmation blood test performed at a laboratory.

Let's start with at-home pregnancy tests β€” they're easy to use, cheap, and available almost everywhere.

  • Urine tests are definitely the most popular type of home kits. They're effortless, non-invasive, and almost entirely risk-free. These kind of tests require you to use a pipette, or to insert them straight into the urine stream. Their greatest disadvantage is lower accuracy and a higher chance of user's error.
  • Blood home tests are not yet as commonly available. They require only a few drops of blood taken from one of the fingers.

Another category is the doctor's pregnancy tests performed with a blood draw.πŸ’‰

This kind of test detects hCG levels in a quantitive way β€” that is, they tell you the exact amount of this pregnancy hormone present in your body. They're more accurate, reliable and may produce a positive result much earlier than many home pregnancy tests. Due to their precision, they're used to monitor the pregnancy course, estimate the weeks of pregnancy, and serve as a screening method for many disorders. The cons include:

  • The unpleasantness of syringe blood sampling;
  • Longer waiting time; and
  • A need to book an appointment with a medical professional.

See the hCG levels calculator for more details about this crucial hormone!

Home pregnancy tests: can you trust the results?

Yes, at-home pregnancy tests aren’t as bad as you may think! Most modern kits have an accuracy of 99%, but what does it really mean? If you decided to take a pregnancy test 100 times, it would show you a correct result 99 times. 🎯

πŸ’‘ Looking for the most accurate result? Always read your test's description and packaging.

As you can see, the results from a home pregnancy test can be trusted. However, you need to remember that faulty, false-negative, or false-positive outcomes are always possible. If you're still not feeling confident with your results, make sure to take another test and schedule an appointment with your OB-GYN.

What should I do if the test is positive?

Did you get a positive pregnancy test? Congratulations! Here comes a brand new chapter of your life β€” let's prepare for it in the best way possible.

If you took a urine pregnancy test, you should confirm it with a professional. Plan an appointment with your doctor and let them know about your pregnancy test result. Your OB-GYN will take your history, calculate the date of your last missed period, ovulation day, and probable weeks of gestation. The doctor will have to examine you gynecologically and use an ultrasound device. These methods are used to detect and confirm your test's outcomes and to exclude potential ectopic pregnancies. At the end of your visit, the doctor will refer you for multiple blood tests and prescribe vitamins and supplements that'll help in your baby's development, such as folic acid.

Since your home pregnancy test results are already confirmed, it's time to take some actions crucial for your future child's well-being:

  • If you haven't stopped smoking already β€” quit it now!
  • The same goes for alcohol β€” any amount of ethanol can be harmful to the developing brain.
  • Consult your doctor about any chronic medications you take β€” some of them may need to be stopped or replaced.
  • Try to be that ideal human being you always wanted to be β€” eat healthily, devour lots of fruits and veggies, avoid stress, and always look at the bright side of life! πŸ₯¦

Do I need to confirm my pregnancy test?

Yes, it is always better to confirm your results. Even though the modern pregnancy tests are sufficiently accurate and give pretty reliable results, we can't exclude the possibility of a false-positive outcome due to a faulty test. A similar situation may also happen in an early pregnancy loss: the positive result from a home kit may later turn into the negative one. Such pregnancy is called the "biochemical gestation" and is visible only because of the tremendous progress made in detecting pregnancy β€” our grandmothers wouldn't even be aware that they were pregnant at all!

Another reason to always double-check everything is the possibility of false-negative test results. This situation can arise if you take the test too early. The pregnancy hormones that are released into your body can be detected only after 7-10 days after ovulation β€” that's why low levels of HCG present early in pregnancy can be overlooked easily by less accurate tests.

When should I see a doctor for a clinical pregnancy test?

Usually, as soon as possible! If you performed the test after your missed period and got a positive result, you have no other choice but to confirm it! 🎁

An early visit to your doctor allows you to quickly exclude false-positive pregnancy test results and helps you prepare better for the pregnancy and all the challenges to come. Your OB-GYN will perform a health scan and send you on multiple tests β€” these might be crucial in safeguarding the gestation and your baby's growth. You'll also find out what to change in your lifestyle to provide your child with the best conditions needed for its development.

When does it make sense to start telling people you're pregnant?

There's more than a single answer to that question.

All women and couples need to choose an option that they feel is best and that makes them feel entirely comfortable. Some people may decide not to share the big news at all, except for a few people they really trust. Some couples wish to share their joy with the entire world as soon as possible, while some people prefer to wait until the advanced stages of the pregnancy to make sure that their baby is truly safe and sound. It all comes down to a given person's history, beliefs, experiences, and possible health problems (or lack thereof).

Whatever you decide to be your strategy, however you choose to behave β€” there are no wrong choices. It is your life, and this decision is fully yours and only yours to make. 🌟

What can you expect from prenatal appointments throughout your pregnancy?

Your test strip showed two dark lines? Happy days! A positive pregnancy test result is just the beginning of a beautiful yet exhausting journey. There are plenty of steps on your way to the grand finale β€” we'll try to quickly describe all of them so you'll know exactly what to expect.

  • Plenty of blood tests. Warning: the syringe will definitely touch your skin more than once. They'll test for:

    • Morphology β€” levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and others.
    • The sugar level in your blood β€” in order to rule out diabetes.
    • HCG hormone and others β€” used in tests screening for some genetic disorders.
    • Thyroid hormones β€” crucial for the nervous system's development.
    • Diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, toxoplasmosis β€” if we know about it earlier, we're able to prevent serious complications successfully.
  • Ultrasound scans. It won't hurt, it's safe, and it's reliable.

    • An ultrasound (US) can be used to scan for some genetic disorders as well. If we'd like to assess the potential risk, it'd be best to combine both the blood draw method and the US imaging.
    • The US is one of the best methods to assess the fetus's wellbeing β€” the doctor will measure the flow in your baby's arteries and veins and will constantly monitor its growth and weight.
    • Detection of some congenital anomalies (birth defects).
  • Urine test β€” might detect the infection or systemic disease.

  • Teeth control β€” a pregnancy has no mercy for your mouth stones.

  • The gynecological examination should be an essential part of every visit, as a doctor might detect many different conditions that could complicate the pregnancy.

  • Cardiotocography (CTG) looks like a strap attached to your belly β€” it'll allow you to hear and record your baby's heartbeat and monitor your uterus contractions.

Łucja Zaborowska, MD, PhD candidate
Have you been wondering when to take a pregnancy test?

Find the answer with our calculator below!
Natural Conception
Menstrual cycle length
Your last period
Ovulation day
Urine test date
Blood test date
In Vitro Fertilization
IVF transfer day
Embryo's age
5 days (blastocyst stage)
Urine test date
Blood test date
Check out 34 similar gynecology & pregnancy calculators 🀰
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