The excitement and anticipation of a woman who misses her period after months of trying to conceive can be well imagined. Those who have been going through treatment for female infertility would be even more eager to verify the pregnancy because the stakes are definitely higher for them. The first thing that a woman would want to do is to go for a pregnancy test and urine and blood tests are the most common ones performed for this purpose. Many women prefer home pregnancy tests these days because of the convenience and privacy these tests offer.
There are a number of brands which have come up with reliable home pregnancy test kits that are known to give widely accurate results. Still, there have been cases of false positives and false negatives, which can cause disappointment as well as uncertainty for those who trust these tests. Their accuracy depends, to a considerable extent, on the way these are being used. Therefore, it becomes vital to know all about home pregnancy tests and how to use as well as interpret them so that the pregnancy can be verified reliably.
How do home pregnancy tests work?
Home pregnancy test is based on the detection of the pregnancy-hormone, namely human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine. When a woman gets pregnant, the fertilized egg gets implanted in the uterine wall, which leads to production of this hormone in her body. Its presence in her urine is a reliable indicator of pregnancy.
The basic pregnancy test kits are of three types, the ones which use test strips, dipsticks and containers. The woman is required to hold the test strip under the urine stream, immerse the dipstick in the urine sample or place a small quantity of urine in the container. After some time, the change in color of the strip/dipstick/container will indicate a positive result. It may also be displayed in the form of a line, plus/minus sign or words pregnant/not pregnant in case of digital tests.
It is recommended that a woman follows all the instructions mentioned on the test kit stringently and also checks its expiration to ensure the accuracy of the test. The best time to carry out the test is a few days, or one week, after the missed period because this is the time when the hCG levels increase enough to be detected in the urine or bloodstream. Though women, particularly the ones who are being treated for female infertility, may be tempted to take the test earlier, it is suggested to wait for the right time to take the test. The earlier the test is taken, the harder it is to detect the hCG levels.
Accuracy of Home Pregnancy Tests
Most of the home pregnancy test brands claim the accuracy rate of 97-99% though its efficacy is reduced if not used in the proper way. The first urine in the morning is likely to give the most accurate analysis because this is the time when the hCG level is likely to be at the highest during the day. The test can come up with a false positive or negative due to varied reasons such as not following the instructions well, using an expired kit or one exposed to sunlight.
A false positive, which happens when the test returns positive though the woman is not pregnant, is a rare occurrence. The misleading results can be attributed to presence of hCG in urine (as it may have been administered during fertility treatment), ectopic pregnancy, menopause or problems in the ovaries. Similarly, an early miscarriage can also indicate a false positive as a woman may have lost the pregnancy but the hormonal levels may still be high because the egg had attached itself to the uterine lining.
Similarly, the home pregnancy test may indicate a false negative too, which is more common as compared to false positives. A woman who succumbs to the temptation of taking the test too early is most likely to get false negative because there is a possibility that the hCG level may not have increased enough to become detectable. Not giving the test enough time to work or using diluted urine (not taking the early morning concentrated sample) may be other reasons.
Positive results need to be verified by further tests such as blood examination and ultrasound scan. Therefore, it is important for a woman to see a doctor once she gets a positive with home pregnancy tests. On the other hand, those who get a negative but still do not get the period for several days thereafter need to take the test again. Women being treated with Assisted Reproductive Technique for female infertility need to have pregnancy confirmed in time as she should not take any chances with such a precious pregnancy. Hence, home pregnancy tests cannot be entirely relied upon by them and it is better to support the test with proper and timely medical examination.
Gaudium IVF is amongst the top IVF treatment centre in Delhi, India and is a trusted name for bringing world class fertility treatment and gynecological care for its patients. It also supports and educates its patients on key aspects of conception and pregnancy.
For the expert advice and free second opinion from Dr Manika Khanna, the leading infertility specialist in India, contact today.