Am I Pregnant? Here’s how to check it
A pregnancy test kit is an easy test to know whether a woman is pregnant. The test can be carried out at home or at a doctor’s office. The test kit usually comes with a standard pregnancy stick test which may come with a dropper or a container depending on the brand. It works by measuring the level of hormone called as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) also known as the pregnancy hormone. hCG is usually present in the urine and blood after approximately 10-14 days after conception. That means, you should wait about 10-14 days after you missed your period to check for pregnancy.
Using a pregnancy test kit
Pregnancy test kits are usually available over the counter at any pharmacy and supermarkets. They are easy to use, give you quick results and can be done at the privacy of your home.
Read the instructions included in the test kit, make sure the expiry date has not passed. Depending on the test kit, you will either have to collect your urine sample in a clean container and dip the pregnancy test stick into the container or use a dropper to place a few drops of the urine sample directly on the test strip. The results should be ready within a couple of minutes.
Each pregnancy test kit has its own way of showing results, so it is important to read the instructions provided to find out how to interpret them.
Depending on the brand, the results may appear as:
- Change in marked lines
- Symbols like plus (+) or minus (-)
- Change in colour
- Words like “pregnant” or “not pregnant”
When is the right time to do a pregnancy test?
The test can be done from the first day of your missed period. If you are unsure when your next period is due, you can do the test after at least 21 days (3 weeks) from your last unprotected intercourse.
You can perform the test on a urine sample collected at any time of the day but it is advisable to test with early morning urine as the urine is the most concentrated. Don’t drink large amount of fluid prior to test.
Pregnancy test results
A positive test result means you are almost certainly pregnant. On the other hand, a negative test result is not as conclusive. If your test result is negative and you still think you are pregnant, you can repeat the test a couple of days (about a week) later. If your test results is negative after the second test and you still have not had your period, please consult a physician. The doctor will do a blood test to measure the level of hCG in the body to confirm the pregnancy.
Accuracy of the pregnancy test
When used correctly, a positive test is normally 97-99% accurate. If your results are negative, it can either mean you are not pregnant, or you have taken the test too early.
‘False positive’ can happen too, which means that the test kit shows that you are pregnant when you are actually not. There are some causes like ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage and problems related to the ovaries or certain medications that can increase the level of hCG hormone in the blood.
Whereas, ‘false negative’ is when the kit shows negative result but you are actually pregnant. This happens in case of early pregnancy or diluted urine that the indicator could not detect the hCG.
How can you be sure?
You can go to the nearest clinic for a confirmation of the pregnancy. Usually, they will repeat the urine pregnancy test and do ultrasound scanning. During the 4th week of pregnancy, scanning using transvaginal ultrasound will be done as a transabdominal ultrasound will only be able to detect the fetus sac at 6-7 weeks of pregnancy. The transvaginal ultrasound scanning is done by inserting the probe into your vagina while the transabdominal ultrasound is directly done on the abdomen.
Antenatal booking can usually be done at 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. The doctor will give an appointment date for booking if you come to confirm the pregnancy too early. The booking can be done at a local health centre or any antenatal care centre.