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Pregnancy tests: when and how to take a pregnancy test

  • Pregnancy testing can result in a false-negative pregnancy test if it is done too soon after a missed period
  • Incorrect results can result from a failure to follow the home test instructions
  • Urine tests give better results than blood tests

You might have questions if your period is not on time or you suspect you may be pregnant. You might also be curious about early signs of pregnancy. You can get answers and comfort with a pregnancy test.

Are you unsure how to perform a pregnancy test? What type of pregnancy test would you prefer? Are you unsure if you should see a doctor? This is our guide:

When is it time to have a pregnancy test

When can you have a pregnancy test?

If you are exposed to penis-invaginal sex, or have a high chance of sperm touching your genitals, you could be at risk for pregnancy. Your cycle will have varying levels of risk.

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Have a regular menstrual period

The highest risk of pregnancy is from the middle of your cycle to approximately 2 weeks before you expect your period. This is because most people ovulate at this time. This information is general and may not reflect the specific cycle. Therefore, you should not rely on it for pregnancy prevention.

(Note: The Clue app’s ovulation date is an estimation. Your actual day of conception may differ from the one displayed. This can also vary from cycle to cycle and with the start of your period. )

Sperm exposed towards the beginning of the cycle generally has a lower risk of pregnancy than if a person ovulated during or close to those times

If your period is over 9 days late, you should have a pregnancy test.

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If you have a regular cycle or want to test for pregnancy sooner than that, you should wait at least two weeks. It’s best to wait until your period is over to avoid false negatives. You can decide when you want it to start.

You may have an irregular cycle

If you don’t know when your period will arrive, or if there is a significant difference in the length of your cycle between the two, then you are at greater risk of having unprotected sex and/or exposing your genitals to sperm because it is harder to predict when you will be exposed.

A pregnancy test can be taken approximately two weeks after the last unprotected sexual encounter . However, waiting a few more days will improve the accuracy of your results

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Let’s say you use active forms of natural birth control, also known as fertility awareness-based methods or family planning. Or you track fertility signs to determine your body literacy. You will be able to determine when your ovulation occurs and use this information to estimate your pregnancy risk.

Remember that any form of unprotected sexual activity can lead to sexually transmitted infection. )

What is the difference between home and doctor-ordered pregnancy tests?

Human chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is the main hormone that you should test for. It can be detected in blood and urine. The concentration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) doubles in the first 30 days following the implantation of a viable intrauterine pregnancy. A slower rise in hCG concentrations suggests an abnormal pregnancy or miscarriage (2 span>

This home test uses a “pee-on-a-stick” method to determine if your hCG levels have reached a certain threshold. It will give you either a positive or a negative result. If the test is performed too soon after a missed period, these tests can often be negative.

If you take a home pregnancy test but get a negative result and you don’t have your period for a week, it’s a good idea.

Many healthcare providers offer both blood and urine tests for hCG. Although the urine test is similar to a home pregnancy check, it tends to yield more accurate results due to less error. A blood test can give you an exact count of your hCG levels. You will have to wait longer for the lab to analyze your blood.

The blood test provides more information, making it possible to identify an early miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.

How to use an home pregnancy test

  1. Check that your expiry date is not expired by purchasing your pregnancy test from a trusted seller.
  2. Follow the instructions carefully, as they may vary from one brand to the next. In 1993, a study of pregnant women revealed that only one third of test kit users followed all instructions. In this study, 1 in 4 false-negative results were recorded (3 ).
  3. A urine test can be done at any time as hCG levels do not fluctuate throughout the day (4,5, 6).
    1. You might drink a lot of water during the day. The accuracy of the test may be compromised if your urine sample is very diluted.
  4. It doesn’t matter if your home test results are positive or not, it is a good idea to verify the results with a healthcare provider. Home tests are less sensitive than those performed in an office by a healthcare provider. There’s also more possibility for human error.

Can a false positive pregnancy test result be obtained?

False negative results are most often caused by performing the test too soon after conception, when hCG levels have dropped too low to detect. It is possible to get an inaccurate result if your ovulation occurs later than normal.

It is best to wait a few weeks after missing periods before you perform a urine pregnancy test.

False-negative results are very rare. This is because of high levels of hCG associated with pregnancy-related cancers.

Can a false positive pregnancy test be done?

This is possible, but it is very rare. You can also get a positive result by using

  • Pregnancy loss very soon after implantation.
  • Secretion of hCG from a tumor
  • Perimenopause hCG secretion from the pituitary.
  • Infertility treatment that includes hCG injections can cause interference. After two weeks, if you have had an injection of the hCG, it should be gone from your body. (9)

False positive pregnancy tests are not caused by medication, except if the medication contains hCG, or occasionally, antibodies (10). Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect that your medication may be interfering in the results of your pregnancy test.

How to visit a healthcare provider

You can verify the results by visiting a healthcare provider if you have any questions about the results of your home test. Most clinics and providers offer confidential blood or urine testing. There are many organizations that can assist you in finding a transgender Ob/GYN.

A negative pregnancy test can be a sign that you are not pregnant. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. Talk to them about previous periods and how long they last. Also, what heaviness and length you experienced. To determine if you have a health condition that affects your cycle, they may run some tests.

Taking a pregnancy test is an emotional experience.

You are not the only one going through this. Talk to someone you trust and seek their support. You can seek confidential counseling at most clinics and offices of healthcare providers if you are unsure.

Scarleteen provides trans-inclusive support to teens and young adults via SMS, online chat and message boards. If you live in the United States or Canada you can call the All-Options Talkline at 1-888-493-0092. The International Planned Parenthood Federation has over 170 member associations.

This article was first published Dec. 21, 2017.

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  1. Curtis KM, Jatlaoui TC, Tepper NK, et al. U.S. U.S. MMWR Recomm Rep 2016;65(No. RR-4):1-66.
  2. Tulandi T. Ectopic pregnancies: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. Up to date. 2015 Oct.
  3. Bastian LA, Nanda K, Hasselblad V, Simel DL. A meta-analysis of the diagnostic efficacy of home pregnancy testing kits. Archives of family medicine. 1998 Sep 1, 7:465.
  4. Diaz Cueto L. Mendez JP. Barrios-De–Tomasi J. Lee JY. Wide L. Veldhuis JD. Ulloa–Aguirre A. Amplitude regulation episodic release. In vitro biological-to-immunological ratio and median

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