Pregnancy, especially if it’s an unplanned one can set off alarm bells in your head! Gone are the days where a doctor in an old Hindi movie can detect pregnancy just by feeling the pulse of the heroine! (Anyway, it is medically impossible too.) Pregnancy is no longer about retching your guts out to make you realize you are pregnant!
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There are pregnancy test kits available in the market which can help you be sure whether you are pregnant or not. And the best part is you don’t have to wait in a doctor’s office with your heartbeat racing away to know whether you are pregnant or not.
As long as you use the pregnancy test kit correctly, you are assured of getting the results that can flood you with relief if you are not pregnant. However, if you are pregnant, the test results can help you make responsible decisions and planning to terminate the unwanted pregnancy. In this article, we bring you everything you wanted to know about pregnancy test kits.
How does a pregnancy test kit work? All about hCG?
Home pregnancy tests are designed to detect a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine.
This hormone is produced when a fertilized egg (a fertilized egg is an ovum fused with a sperm) implants itself on the wall of the uterus and starts growing. Around 10 to 14 days after fertilization, hCG levels will rise in the urine. In the subsequent days/ weeks of the pregnancy, the hCG levels will exponentially increase.
hCG is also called the pregnancy hormone as it is produced by the cells that form the placenta ( placenta is a structure that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. It provides nutrients to the growing embryo).
Thus normally, hCG is produced only when you are pregnant. However, hCG can also be produced when you have certain tumours and cancers.
Types of pregnancy test kits:
There are numerous test kits in the market. Broadly they can be categorized into (1) Standard kits (2) Digital kits.
- Standard kits are the ones that show the results by a change of colour, signs such as plus or minus, or even lines.
- Digital kits are those which display the results electronically. There will be a screen which says pregnant or not pregnant; yes or no.
One common thing about all the kits is that they use urine for testing!
Using a pregnancy test kit:
Pregnancy test kits are all about urine! Depending on the type of kit, some will require you to urinate directly onto the test stick, while some will require you to collect the urine in a container and you can dip the test stick into it. There are also kits where you place a few drops of collected urine onto the test stick.
hCG present in the urine will react with chemicals present in the kit.
The time for results to appear vary from brand to brand.
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When to take the test?
Most pregnancy tests recommend taking the test a few days after you miss your period.
Taking the test before this could lead to inaccurate results due to the low levels of hCG in the urine. However, some brands claim to detect pregnancy as early as 10 days following unprotected sex. The accuracy and reliability of the test results depend completely on the sensitivity of the kit produced by the brands.
Thus the best option will be to do a test within a few days since you last missed your period/ when your period is late.
It is advisable to take this test the first thing in the morning after you wake up. This is because the urine is more concentrated then, unlike the rest of the day where it can be diluted due to high fluid intake. Diluted urine can give a false negative result even when the woman is pregnant.
[Check out our Pregnancy Test Calculator. This can help you decide when to take the pregnancy test.]
Positive/ Negative/ False Negative/ False Positive?
Standard test kits come in two types viz (1) with a single window (2) with double windows. A test line is present by default in both the kit types to indicate the kit is working properly. A digital test kit has no such test line in the display window.
- In single window tests, a line will appear next to the test line. Both of them are in the same window.
- In double window tests, a plus sign will appear in one window. The other window, by default, has the test line.
- A digital test will have “Pregnant” or “Yes” in its display window.
- In single window tests, only the test line will be present. There will not be any new line.
- In double window tests, a minus sign which is essentially a single line, will appear in one window. The other window, by default, has the test line.
- A digital test will have “Not Pregnant” or “No” in its display window.
This is when you are not pregnant but your test kit shows you are pregnant. Why does this happen? Well here are a few reasons:
- You have chemical pregnancy (also called biochemical pregnancy). This happens when a fertilized egg is unable to implant and grow well on the uterus. It is called so because hCG levels are on the rise in the initial weeks.
- You are on fertility drugs which affect your hCG levels
- You recently had a miscarriage wherein hCG is still present in your body even though there is no living embryo in your uterus.
- You have used the kit incorrectly
- Your kit could be broken/faulty
This is when you are pregnant but your test kit shows you are not pregnant. This can happen when:
- You took the test too early in the pregnancy. Thus there was inadequate hCG in urine to give a positive result.
- You have used the kit incorrectly
- Your kit could be broken/ faulty
Both false positive and false negative results are very rare. However, between the two, it is false negative results that are common. To prevent you from getting a false negative test, it is advised that you have your test within a few days after you have missed your period. If you take the test within a few days of unprotected sex, it is highly likely that you will have a false negative test.
Faint line: pregnant or not?
When you get a faint line does that mean you are pregnant? The boldness or lightness of line is insignificant, as long as any new line appears?
Very often the appearance of the faint line makes people think it is a positive result, when in fact it could be a false positive result.
The faint line, also called the evaporation line, appears when you have left behind the test for a few minutes longer than the indicated time. Here, what happens is, the urine in the test kit has evaporated resulting in a chemical change in the strip. Such a change should not be confused for the hCG chemical change in the strip. If you get a faint line, then it is advised that you repeat the test and this time be very careful about the timing to see the results.
A few tips to get accurate results:
- Be sure to purchase a kit that is not damaged or expired
- Different kits have different instructions about storage and usage, especially when it comes to temperature sensitivity. Take these specific instructions seriously. If a kit needs to be stored in the fridge, do so. And more importantly, if the kit requires room temperature for accurate results, be patient to wait for the kit to be used after it is taken out of the fridge.
- Rather than testing within a few days after unprotected sex, it is best that you test within a few days after you missed your periods.
- The urine you pass in the morning, after waking up, is the best for testing. However, if you choose to test later in the day, make sure you have not taken too many fluids prior, as this can dilute the urine.
- Take the instructions of the kits seriously. If it says a particular time period for results to show, then wait you must! Also, being too lax about the waiting period and checking the result much later can give you false results. Thus be vigilant about the timing of the results to show.
[Unplanned pregnancies, especially for unmarried women, are anxiety inducing ones. If you are an unmarried woman who wants to terminate your pregnancy and unsure where to get a safe and legal abortion, we can help you. There is nothing to be ashamed about unplanned pregnancy and abortion. We care for your physical and emotional well being. Talk to us to get a safe and legal abortion by clicking on this Whatsapp chat button:
About the Author: Kenisha Martins
A second year Art’s student from Sophia College who is passionate about writing and loves literature. She also loves bringing awareness to topics that are not mainstream but need more public attention. You can find her avoiding all social interactions and petting a dog somewhere in a park.
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