Home Pregnancy Test

pregnancy test

Since pregnancy kick-starts production of the hCG hormone (human chorionic gonadotrophin), a home pregnancy test is aimed at detecting its presence in urine, and each year consumers spend more than $175 million on them.

While a home pregnancy test can be effective, hCG beta blood tests done at your doctor's office are in fact substantially more sensitive (they can detect hCG within ten days of conception) and, they give quantitative results (not the qualitative yes/no of a pregnancy test).

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

Produced by the placenta and detected by a home pregnancy test, the pregnancy hormone hCG appears following fertilization. Its job is to make sure the corpus luteum makes progesterone. hCG is considered an effective indicator of pregnancy because of its appearance in urine or blood, and its somewhat dependable rise in concentration, during the first phases of gestation.

Measured in milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/ml), ‘average’ numbers for hCG generally follow the course below:

  • Ten days post conception: 25 (mIU/ml)
  • Every two to three days thereafter: the units should double
  • By eight to ten weeks: 30,000-200,000 mIU/ml

Levels at five mIU/ml or lower typically point toward one thing: you are not pregnant.

Keep in mind that hCG injections such as Profasi and Pregnyl, administered to trigger ovulation (or to lengthen your cycle’s luteal phase) can leave behind just enough hCG in the body to mislead a test into thinking you are pregnant when you are not. They can be detected as many as ten days following your last injection. In these situations, a home pregnancy test is not considered so reliable, but a pair of quantitative beta blood tests can clear the air. In short, if the second test shows a rise in hCG levels, it means you are in fact probably pregnant.

Choosing a Home Pregnancy Test

HPTs generally come in two forms:

Mid-stream tests
You hold one end of a stick in your hand and urinate on the other end.
Urine well tests
You urinate into a cup, then use a dropper to remove a sample and drop it into a urine well on the test unit.

While many of the tests exhibit varying degrees of sensitivity to hCG, the majority can detect the hormone within about two weeks of conception (First Response Early Detection boasts eleven days). Ultimately you should experiment with different HPTs to ascertain which ones you like or don’t like.

Time of Day Urine

Unlike in years past, today’s HPTs do not require you to use so-called first morning urine. Rather, you can use them at any time of the day. The only suggestion is that, prior to taking the test, you hold your bladder for four hours.

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