Maybe you’ve been trying for a while to get pregnant and routinely take at-home pregnancy tests. Maybe you’ve missed a period and are wondering if that could be due to an unexpected pregnancy. Maybe you had unprotected sex and are now experiencing symptoms of early pregnancy and you’re anxious for answers. Regardless of the “why”, the majority of women will experience the need of an accurate pregnancy test at some point in their lives. With countless tales of false negative tests (or false positive tests), inaccurate and expensive pregnancy testing, and seemingly uncooperative doctors, getting the answer to such an important question can seem daunting. Are you pregnant or not?
For most women, the first resort for testing is typically a store-bought pregnancy test. These can offer quick results with fairly high rates of accuracy. At-home pregnancy tests fall on the less expensive side of testing and have a 97% rate of accuracy when used according to directions.
Following instructions is crucial when it comes to over-the-counter pregnancy tests. Some tests may result in false positives if left sitting for too long. Some may result in false negatives if the urine sample is inadequate. If a pregnancy test is taken too early – before hormone levels are high enough in the urine – it may also show false negative results. A urine test will only show if the pregnancy hCG hormone is detected in your urine. It will give you a qualitative answer – “yes, you’re pregnant” or “no, you’re not pregnant.” It cannot confirm how far along you are in your pregnancy or whether it is a normally developing pregnancy. If it is too early in a pregnancy, the hCG hormone may not be present in your urine yet, resulting in a false negative. The earliest suggested time to take an at-home pregnancy test is 14 days after possible conception. If the results are negative and your menstrual cycle has still not begun, it is recommended to wait a week and test again.
Another way to test for early pregnancy is through bloodwork. This is done at a physician’s office and is often more costly than a urine pregnancy test. A blood test will measure the amount of hCG hormone that is in your blood. This can directly correlate to how far along in a pregnancy you are (if it’s a normally progressing pregnancy). The further into pregnancy, the higher the concentration levels of hCG will be in the blood. Rising hCG levels indicate a developing pregnancy and can help medical staff determine your approximate due date. This lab work can be especially helpful if your ultrasound is not showing the expected findings of a healthy pregnancy. Doctors may recommend hCG testing through a blood draw if your urine test results are positive but your ultrasound results are abnormal. Serial hCG tests may be ordered if there is a question about the progress of your pregnancy when early in gestation.
An important note to consider is that while both types of pregnancy tests can verify that you are pregnant, a normal pregnancy can only be confirmed with an ultrasound.
To quickly& accurately determine whether you are pregnant or not and how far along you are, book an appointment at an Obria clinic near you.
American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy Tests – Urine vs. Blood. Accessed 8/21/2023.