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Pregnancy Test

Making sure that your result is correct

It's the moment of truth – are you pregnant or not? The accuracy of a pregnancy test can mean the difference between life going on as before or changing completely.

What kinds of pregnancy tests are available?

If you go to the pharmacy counter in a drug store, you'll see a number of different pregnancy tests that promise you quick and accurate results. One's the same as another, right? Wrong.

Pregnancy tests vary in their usage, so read the instructions on the package carefully. There are two main types of pregnancy tests – one that tests for the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in the blood (this is the test you'll get at the doctor's office) and one that tests for hCG in the urine. Both are about 99 percent accurate, although the home pregnancy tests can bring up false positives. The pregnancy hormone shows up in urine about 10 days after conception. Tests taken before 10 days after a missed period may show a false negative.

How do I ensure the accuracy of my test?

  • Don't drink a lot of water. It will increase the volume of urine, and dilute the presence of hCG, which will skew the results.
  • Use the urine you pass first thing in the morning, or try to wait until four hours have passed from the last time you urinated. The more concentrated the urine is, the better the hCG can be detected.
  • Check the package instructions and follow them precisely.
  • Also check any medication you're taking which could bring up a false result.
  • If you have a positive result, follow up the home test with a visit to your doctor.

Popular Pregnancy Test Brands

The information on pregnancy test brands has become plentiful, but it can still be confusing to choose one. We've compiled a brief review of two of the most popular brands:

  • First Response Early Result tests are the most sensitive tests on the market. They detected the pregnancy hormone in 95 percent of women the second day after their missed period.
  • The next best is Clearblue Easy, which was able to detect early pregnancy in approximately 80 percent of women. However, the test worked better when taken a few more days after the missed period.

Other pregnancy tests were only able to detect early pregnancy about 16 percent of the time, but also worked better when taken a few more days after the missed period.

Don't be fooled by the sites advertising an online pregnancy test – these are not accurate and seem to be only there for fun. Check with your medical doctor or take an over-the-counter test to be sure. A free pregnancy test can be found at some clinics or at a hospital for women who can't afford to pay for one.

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