If you have any reason to believe you may be pregnant, getting a pregnancy test should be – and probably is – at the top on your to-do list. Knowing for certain whether or not you’re pregnant allows you to make smart choices for your health, your baby and your future. Pregnancy testing isn’t especially complicated, but there are some things you’ll want to know to ensure you get an accurate result.
What do pregnancy tests look for?
Pregnancy tests are designed to detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced by pregnant women. A woman’s body begins producing hCG following the implantation of the placenta into the uterine wall. Once hCG is in high enough levels in your system, it can be detected in both your urine and blood.
Do home pregnancy tests work?
In three words…mostly, kinda, sometimes. Unfortunately, that’s about as much certainty as you can place in a home pregnancy test. While home pregnancy tests are designed to detect hCG, just like medical pregnancy tests, false-positive results and false-negative results do happen sometimes.
How do false-positive results happen?
While hCG is most commonly found in pregnant women, there are a few rare circumstances through which the hormone can be present outside of pregnancy. If you recently had a chemical pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, for example, or if you’re receiving certain fertility treatments, you could have detectable hCG in your system, which would produce a false-positive pregnancy test result (a results showing you ARE pregnant when you’re really not).
False-positive results can also be triggered by the presence of certain medications in your system, including anti-anxiety, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, diuretics and even antihistamines. Active medical conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease, ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer can produce false-positive results as well. Many false-positive results come from simple user-error.
How do false-negative results happen?
False-negative results (results indicating you ARE NOT pregnant when you really are) are far more common. You can get a false-negative test result in a variety of ways, including using an expired home pregnancy test or taking the test at a time of day when your urine is too diluted. Your urine is the most concentrated first thing in the morning, making that the best time to test.
Timing plays another even more common role in producing many false-negative results, as some women test too soon after they may have been impregnated. The Mayo Clinic suggests waiting until seven days after your missed period in order to get the most accurate home pregnancy test results.
How is medical pregnancy testing different?
Medical pregnancy tests function much like home pregnancy tests in that they look for hCG. The biggest difference is that the medical professionals who administer these tests account for the factors that could produce false-positive or false-negative results. So, if you believe you are pregnant, regardless of the outcome of a home pregnancy test, it’s wise to follow up with medical pregnancy testing.
If a positive result is produced by the medical pregnancy test, the physician or clinic will usually follow up the test with an obstetrical ultrasound. This allows the medical professional to actually see if there is a baby growing inside of you, absolutely confirming the pregnancy. An obstetrical ultrasound can also rule out the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, which could otherwise require immediate medical attention.
In Gainesville, Sira offers free medical pregnancy testing and free obstetrical ultrasounds for any woman who believes she may be pregnant. Testing is provided in our clinic on NW 13th Street, less than one mile north of University of Florida’s campus. All testing is confidential and no insurance is required.
Contact Sira today at 352-377-4947 to schedule your free testing appointment.