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Home pregnancy test

What is a home pregnancy test?

The home pregnancy test is a urine test that detects the presence of hCG or the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone. This is the hormone that is released when the egg gets attached to the uterus wall after fertilization.

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In a pregnancy that is proceeding normally, the hCG hormone should increase continuously till about 10 weeks of the pregnancy. 

Why is it conducted?

The home pregnancy test is carried out to confirm whether a woman is pregnant. Though there are also blood tests available that can confirm pregnancy as early as 48 hours after fertilization of the egg, these are conducted at testing laboratories. A home pregnancy test is more convenient as it can be done at home.

Who should go for it?

Women who suspect that they might have conceived are advised to take this test after 14 days of ovulation or if their period is late by a week.

Procedure for home pregnancy test

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The procedure for carrying out this test is given on the home pregnancy test kit and should be followed exactly. Broadly speaking, there are three ways of doing this test. There may be some variations in the way tests of different companies are to be done.

  1. Hold the testing strip and direct the urine stream over it.
  2. Collect the urine sample in a cup and dip the testing strip in it.
  3. Collect the urine sample in a cup and use a dropper to put some drops on the testing strip.

A few precautions will help to ensure the accuracy of the test.

  • It is best to use this test with the first urine in the morning.
  • Before you begin the procedure, make sure that you understand the instructions.
  • Check that the test kit has not expired.
  • Wait for the result for the stated time and then read it. Taking a reading before or after may not be accurate.  
  • Hold the testing strip in the urine for the stipulated time.
  • You can expect more accuracy if you wait for a week after missing a period. Too early and you may have a false negative.
  • It is always a good idea to repeat the test after a few days to make sure, especially if you have a negative test.

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Interpretation of results

Normally it takes approximately six days for implantation to occur, therefore it is advisable to take the test 7-10 days after missing a period. Timing is of utmost importance as different brands have varying sensitivity. Always read the instructions given on the accompanying literature carefully. The lower the value of hCG mentioned on the kit, the more sensitive and accurate it is.

The results may also be affected if you are taking certain medicines, especially fertility drugs, medicines for allergies, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, diuretics, sleeping pills and tranquilizers.

The home pregnancy test can only indicate the presence of the hormone and does not give any quantity or number of units of hCG. Consequently the results of this test are always as yes/no or positive/negative. It may even show up as a line or change in color. A digital test will give a reading of pregnant/ not pregnant.

If you get a negative result and still suspect that you might be pregnant, repeat the test after a couple of days as in some cases hCG levels may not have risen enough for the home pregnancy test to detect it.

Written by: Nandita tripati

Date last updated: January 10, 2015