There are many situations in which you may find yourself needing a pregnancy test. All these tests work through the mechanism of measuring hCG levels in the body. Thus whether you opt for an NHS or a private pregnancy blood test (or urine test), the underlying mechanism is basically the same. The test tries to detect hCG in the woman’s body.
In this article, we venture to find out what the main types of pregnancy tests are. We shall also mention something with regard to why you should use the respective tests.
There are mainly 2 types of pregnancy tests:
1.The urine test for pregnancy
2.The blood test for pregnancy
As alluded to earlier, both tests check for the level of hCG in the bloodstream. This makes sense because most of the physiological changes that the body undergoes when you are pregnant are mediated by hCG. This is especially with regard to the formation of the basic cell clusters that eventually become the child. Therefore if a woman is pregnant, her hCG hormone levels have to rise in certain ways. And usually, by the 10th day of the pregnancy, it tends to be possible to detect the pregnancy through the rise in hCG levels.
Now the urine test is usually available over the counter – meaning that you can use it without a GP’s prescription.
On the other hand, the blood test for a pregnancy tends to be something you can get done at the GP’s clinic.
There are many reasons why you may find it necessary to undertake a pregnancy test.
It could be that you are making an effort to conceive. In that case, only a pregnancy test can tell you whether or not you have been successful.
It could also be that you have fears about your birth control has failed. In this case, only a pregnancy test can confirm or disconfirm those fears.
Further still, it could be that you wish to start using certain medications or undergoing certain medical procedures. But you then realize that using such medications or undergoing such procedures while pregnant would be unsafe. Therefore you first undergo a pregnancy test to check whether, by chance, you may be pregnant.
It is important to mention that in pregnancy tests, sometimes false positives do occur. In such cases, it takes procedures like an ultrasound to check whether the woman in question is actually pregnant or not. Therefore if you have fears that your pregnancy tests are giving false positive results, you can consult your GP.
The only reliable way in which a woman can know if she is pregnant is by undergoing testing. This may be through a urine test which, as we have said, can be done at home. Or it may be through a blood test which is done at a GP’s clinic.
The home test for pregnancy is actually an hCG urine test. So it checks for the levels of hCG in the woman’s body, through the urine sample provided.
Accuracy for the home pregnancy test is said to be at around 99%. Therefore the test is reliable – but only if you follow the instructions for its usage keenly.
Usually, you can buy the home pregnancy test kit at a pharmacy or even in a supermarket. A prescription is not required to buy it.
Performing the pregnancy test at home is normally quite easy. Usually, the test kit will include a chemical strip. It is on this strip that you place a few drops of your pee. If you are pregnant, there will be a certain change in the colour of the strip. That is because the strip is able to detect the presence of hCG. And you can only have such hCG while pregnant. Therefore when the strip changes colour as per the guidelines, you can be pretty sure that you are indeed pregnant.
It does take some time for hCG to become detectable in your blood, even after you get pregnant. In fact, it usually takes 10 days after conception for hCG to show up in your urine. This means that if you take the at-home urine test for pregnancy before the 10th day of your pregnancy, the test may come negative. So you would end up with a false negative – in spite of you actually having conceived.
Usually, people who take home-based urine tests for pregnancy after missed periods tend to get more reliable results. That is because, by the time one is missing their period, it is unlikely that the test would return a false negative result.
- Ideally, you should use fresh morning pee.
- Ensure that you don’t drink too much water prior to taking the test.
- Follow the steps given for the test’s usage to the letter.
Besides the urine test, there is also a blood test for pregnancy. This is normally done at a GP’s clinic. It entails drawing a sample of blood from the woman’s arm. Then this is analyzed, in a bid to detect the presence of the hormones that signify pregnancy.
The blood test for pregnancy tends to be a bit costlier than the urine test.
Sometimes, the blood test for pregnancy may be undertaken in the course of fertility treatment.
When it comes to detecting the levels of hCG in the body, blood tests tend to have more sensitivity than urine tests.
The timeframe after conception that the blood test for pregnancy becomes viable is typically 9-12 days.
When you provide the blood sample, it is then taken to a lab for analysis. The analysis work may take anything from a few hours to a whole day. Then you get your results.
Most tests for pregnancy are usually able to detect it 10 days after conception.
If one undertakes the test after a missed period, the chances of the test returning a false negative result are very low.
Ultimately, if you have inexplicably missed a period, you can undertake the test. Or if you just feel that you may have conceived, and that is at least 10 days ago, you can undertake the test.
Doing a pregnancy test early enough can help in starting prenatal care at a good time.
The main advantages that the home pregnancy tests confer include:
- Low pricing
- Ease of use
- Faster access to the results
Normal medications such as antibiotics may not have an effect. Neither can drug like alcohol or even more sensitive ones like birth control pills.
There are, however, a few medications which may cause testing errors. For instance, fertility medications used in reproductive healthcare can cause false positives.
Upon getting a positive result for pregnancy, there are a number of things to do:
- Be sure that you start taking the required prenatal vitamins. The most critical here is folic acid. Taking it from the earliest stages of pregnancy can help in minimizing the possibility of birth defects.
- Set up an appointment with your GP as soon as possible, to initiate prenatal care.
- Maintain a proper diet and exercise regime. Also,stop using alcohol and tobacco once it becomes clear that you are pregnant. Caffeine intake also needs to be limited, as too much of it may lead to birth defects.
Do you need a private pregnancy blood test? Our London GP Clinic can help with that type of pregnancy testing.