Discovering you are pregnant can be a joyous time for you and your family, especially if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a long time.
There are some clues and symptoms that indicate pregnancy has possibly occurred – morning sickness and being “late” for your period are two of the most common.
If you find yourself with these symptoms, a pregnancy test is usually in order. A pregnancy test can be done either at-home or in an OB/GYN office – it depends on which type you choose to do.
Common, modern-day pregnancy tests look for the presence of a certain hormone in the blood or urine. Blood tests must be done at a doctor’s office while the urine exam can be done at a doctor’s office or at-home using one of many over-the-counter options out there.
Each test though is essentially looking for the same thing – human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG.
This hormone is made when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus, which is why it’s also known as the “pregnancy hormone.” Presence of this hormone keeps building with each passing day you’re pregnant.
These days, most women choose the at-home pregnancy test because it is very private – husbands or partners are usually told right when the test is done. Then, an in-office test (…usually more thorough) is done for final confirmation.
False Negatives, False Positives and Timing
Although at-home pregnancy tests have advanced by leaps and bounds, they are not fool proof. Careful timing has to be considered to ensure the results are correct.
Since the hCG hormone cannot be detected until after implantation occurs (…which doesn’t happen for a little while after fertilization), some who do an at-home pregnancy test too early will see a negative result, or “false negative” on the test. In fact, most pregnancy tests won’t pick up on enough hCG until after the day you’re period was to take place.
Therefore, if the exam is done too early, the test will not find sufficient amounts of hCG in the urine.
There is another test that can tell if you’re pregnant a mere 48 hours following fertilization. Known as “obstetric ultrasonography,” it is very expensive and time-consuming.
Of course, “false positives” are a possibility as well and can occur for several reasons.
If you’ve received hCG injections as part of any infertility treatment, the test will, not surprisingly, pick up on this whether you’re pregnant or not.
Not applying the test correctly is also a possible reason a false positive can occur. If an at-home pregnancy test is used past its expiration date, it could also give you a false positive reading. Also, if you wait too long to read the results (…usually a 3-5 minute window after application), spurious evaporation lines may appear and indicate positive when in fact the results are negative.
As you can see, there are many options out there to determine if you’re pregnant. These options are pretty easy and inexpensive. An exam from a doctor though is the best, most conclusive way to find out if you’re pregnant.
If you think you may be pregnant or have tested positive with an at-home test, it’s imperative you see a doctor as soon as possible. OB/GYN physicians at All About Women can administer both exams to determine pregnancy.
If we find you are indeed pregnant, OB/GYN physicians and midwife specialists at our offices in Gainesville and Lake City can help carefully guide your journey to motherhood.