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Tests for Pregnancy

What is a pregnancy test?

You can find out if you are pregnant with tests of your urine or blood. These tests look for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). HCG is produced by the placenta. It is found in your blood or urine when you are pregnant.

You can do a urine test for pregnancy at home. Urine or blood tests also may be done at your healthcare provider's office. Keep in mind that these urine and blood tests may detect a pregnancy before an ultrasound can see any signs of the pregnancy.

How soon can I use a home test to see if I am pregnant?

Some home pregnancy tests may be able to detect pregnancy as soon as the day your next period should start. The tests will be more accurate, however, if they are done 2 weeks after the day a missed period should have started.

How are pregnancy tests done at home?

You can buy a home pregnancy test in a drug or grocery store without a prescription. Collect a sample of your urine the first time you go to the bathroom in the morning before you have had anything to drink. Test the urine according to the test kit instructions. You will know the results in 2 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the test kit you use.

If the test is positive there is a good chance that you are pregnant. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to confirm the test result and begin prenatal care.

If the test is negative and you started your last period less than 6 weeks ago, repeat the test in 1 or 2 weeks. If the test is still negative, you are probably not pregnant. Something else may be causing you to miss your periods. If you keep having negative pregnancy tests and your period is 6 to 8 weeks late, tell your healthcare provider.

Home tests are not 100% accurate. You may get a positive test result even when you are not pregnant if:

  • You are going through menopause.
  • You are taking antidepressant drugs.
  • You have had an ovary removed.
  • You have kidney problems.
  • You have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland).

How are pregnancy tests done at my healthcare provider's office?

You may get a more reliable urine test for pregnancy at your healthcare provider's office or a family planning clinic. These tests may not cost any more than a home test kit. You may know the test results the same day.

Blood tests can detect pregnancy earlier than urine tests. With a blood test your healthcare provider can find out if you are pregnant as early as 9 days after a baby is conceived. The blood test measures the hCG level in your blood. It is usually done with a test that is called a radioimmunoassay (RIA) test. The test is more expensive than a urine test. The blood is tested at a lab. You may not have the results for a day or two.

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

HIA File preg5271.htm Release 13/2010

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