Home Sweet Home

There's really something very nice about receiving the good news of a pregnancy in the comfort of home.  The excitement that wells up within a woman at the good news can evoke an emotional response which she may find embarrassing in the examination room or office of her doctor.  Today it is easier than ever to obtain and conduct a pregnancy test at home.

Home Pregnancy Tests

There are a wide variety of home pregnancy tests (HPT) available over-the-counter in most drug stores and at a reasonable cost, depending upon how many tests come in a box.  These tests can provide an accurate reading (up to 97 percent) if performed exactly as indicated by the manufacturer.  Many women who use HPTs get inaccurate results and usually it is because they take the test too soon after the missed period.  While some tests purport to be able to give readings very early, it is important to read the manufacturer's instructions in order to find out when the best time to use that particular test. 

The What and The How

Tests vary in sensitivity to human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the pregnancy hormone produced by the body and present only when there is a fertilized egg in the uterus.  All pregnancy tests are looking for the presence of hCG in the urine - or blood if a blood test is being done - and a positive reading happens when there is hCG present.  Most HPTs work the same way.  The test strip is either held under a stream of urine or dipped into a cup of urine, usually done first thing in the morning which helps to boost accuracy.  Then, there's brief waiting period; the amount of time is dependent upon the manufacturer's instructions.  Once the correct amount of time has passed the results window or box is checked.  If there's a line through it, regardless how faint, the test is positive.  Most tests have a control indicator in the results window.  If this indicator does not appear, the test did not work.  Do not rely upon results from a faulty HPT.

False Positives

Most HPTs advise doing a second test in a few days, regardless of the results of the first test.  False positives - when the test says the woman is pregnant and she's not - can happen.  If a positive result is indicated on the test and then a period arrives a few days later it have been a chemical pregnancy.  A fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus and hCG is produced, but then the egg ceases development for some reason and menstruation resumes.  An ectopic pregnancy can give either a positive or negative reading in a pregnancy test.  If there is abdominal pain or abnormal bleeding, call the doctor, no matter what the pregnancy test says.