I'd Better Check

She wakes up one morning and doesn't feel quite normal.  She's a little nauseous and wonders if she might have the flu.  Feeling better as the day progresses, she lets the feeling of sickness go - until it happens again the next morning.  Hmmm.  Could it be?  And she thinks to herself, "I'd better check, maybe I'm pregnant." 

Two Types of Testing

There are two basic methods of testing for pregnancy; one is a blood test and the other a urine test.  The way both pregnancy tests work is by seeking out a particular hormone in the urine or the blood which is present only in pregnancy.  This hormone, called human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG for short, is also called the pregnancy hormone since it is only made when a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus, which usually happens six days after conception - or later for some women.  The amount of hCG undergoes a massive increase with each day that passes in pregnancy.  While some pregnancy tests purport to be able to give results on the day the menstrual period is expected, studies indicate an accurate reading isn't really possible that early in a pregnancy.  The normal waiting period of about a week after a missed period will give a much more accurate reading.

Home Pregnancy Test

Both the urine and the blood pregnancy tests are checking for hCG.  You can do a urine test at home; you'll need a doctor for the blood test.  The easiest, most inexpensive and private way to determine if a woman is pregnant is by a home pregnancy test.  An HPT will be able to tell if a woman is pregnant about two weeks after ovulation.  If the test comes up positive, a call to the doctor is in order.  A more sensitive test may be used by the doctor along with a pelvic exam to confirm the pregnancy.  An early visit to the doctor can help to keep the mother and baby healthy throughout the duration of the pregnancy and birth.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Blood Tests

There are two different types of blood tests used by doctors to detect pregnancy. Blood tests have the ability to detect hCG earlier than urine tests can, giving results between six to eight days after ovulation.  The beta hCG test is a quantitative blood test which measures the exact amount of hCG in the blood.  The fact that it can find even miniscule amounts of hCG in the blood makes it a very accurate and trusted test.  The qualitative blood test simply checks for the presence of hCG in the blood so the answer is either "yes" or "no" to being pregnant, and it is as accurate as a urine test.  As a rule, blood tests are used by doctors as a means of measuring the exact levels of hCG in a woman's blood in the event  miscarriage or other pregnancy related problems are suspected and to determine how far along gestation has progressed.