How to Use a Pregnancy Test? A Full Guide

There are a lot of symptoms through which one can predict if one is pregnant. If you are experiencing some of the common pregnancy symptoms like a missed period, stomach cramps, and nausea, it may be time to buy a few pregnancy test kits. If you have never taken one before, here is everything you need to know about using a pregnancy test.

1. How Does a Pregnancy Test Work?

The female body secretes a hormone called Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. Since this hormone is made in the placenta of a female body and is only present when a female is pregnant, it is commonly referred to as the pregnancy hormone1.

The pregnancy tests can detect the hCG hormone in the urine or blood (depending on the type of test you get done) of the person taking the test. If the hormone is detected, you are pregnant and you get a positive result. If not, you will not be pregnant and have a negative result. You will get accurate results if you know how to use a pregnancy test.

2. Types of Pregnancy Tests

Pregnancy tests are mainly divided into two types, namely blood tests and urine tests. Under the umbrella of urine pregnancy tests, there are some more types which we will discuss below.

2.1. Urine Pregnancy Tests

As the name suggests, a urine pregnancy

y test is a method of testing pregnancy through your urine sample. Most of the at-home pregnancy tests are urine pregnancy tests2. You can also get a clinical urine pregnancy test done at your OBGYN’s clinic. If you are taking it at home, you must know how to take a pregnancy test properly.

2.2. Blood Tests

Two vials of the blood sample.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels. Copyrighted 2020.

If you are getting a blood test done to check for pregnancy, then you don’t need to know how to use a pregnancy test because all the work will be done by your healthcare professional. All you need to do is get an appointment at your doctor’s office and let them take your blood sample.

The healthcare professional will get back to you with the test results in a few days.

3. Types of At-Home Pregnancy Tests

If you have ever been to your grocery store in search of a pregnancy test kit, you must have seen a wide range of different tests available on the shelves. They come in all different price points, and all are doing the same thing but they vary from each other in one way or another.

Here are the four main types of pregnancy tests available over the counter. If you know how to use a pregnancy test, you can use any of these since the principle of usage is uniform across the board.

3.1. Early Pregnancy Test

The early pregnancy test is more sensitive in comparison to other kits and that is why it can accurately predict pregnancy up to six days before your period is due. The kit comes in a digital form too. This is best for those who don’t want to wait too long to find out if they are expecting.

3.2. Digital Pregnancy Test

A digital pregnancy test3 is a slightly costlier option at your grocery stores because instead of showing a positive line or a plus or minus sign, it displays the test result digitally. It is a plastic stick with a digital display screen in the center. The result appears on this display screen.

3.3. Pregnancy Test Stick

This is a standard pregnancy stick without any pomp and frill. It is a plastic stick that has one side that is supposed to collect urine and the other side where test lines appear. If the sticks detect hCG levels4, two pink lines appear on the other side, otherwise, one line remains.

3.4. Pregnancy Test Strip

Five pregnancy test strips on a red background.
Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels. Copyrighted 2020.

A pregnancy test strip is simply a strip, it is not encased in plastic. This is the most budget-friendly option for couples who are trying to get pregnant because, in planned parenthood, one tends to check for pregnancy every few days. This one comes with a collection cup where you are supposed to collect your pee.

Then dip the strip into the collected urine and wait for it to show the results.

4. How to Use a Pregnancy Test

There are certain things you should keep in mind if you are here to know how to use a pregnancy test and get the most accurate result.

4.1. Take the Test in the Morning

There is no rule set in stone regarding the time of day when it comes to taking the pregnancy test, but the morning is certainly preferred over the other times of the day. The reason for this is the urine stays in the bladder overnight which equates to more HCG levels in the urine.

Morning urine is high in the Human chorionic gonadotropin only because the pee remains in the bladder for a long time. If you want to take a pregnancy test any other time of day, make sure you keep your bladder full for at least four hours. This will ensure high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin.

4.2. Don’t Take the Test Too Early

It is advised not to take a pregnancy test too early as in the early stages of ovulation5, the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone levels are too low to be detected in the urine or blood. At the earliest, you can take the test 6 days before the due date of your period. But it is best to take the test a day after your missed period.

This is the time your hCG levels are highest in your urine stream. Your results will be most accurate when you take the test at this time.

4.3. Read the Directions on the Test Kit Box

The general way of taking a home pregnancy test is constant throughout the different tests, but it is crucial to read the directions on your test kit. This ensures you know all the important details like how to use a pregnancy test, how long to wait before the results appear, how to read the test results, and whether to dip it in a cup of pee or put it under a urine stream.

If you want the most accurate pregnancy test results, reading the directions is a must.

4.4. Unbox the Test Kit

Take the home pregnancy test out of its box and familiarize yourself with it. See for yourself where the results will appear and where to put your urine sample. Remove the plastic cap that protects the absorbent window to see the absorbent tip. This is the part of the testing device that needs to come in contact with the urine stream.

4.5. Cup or Stream

For the test, you can either collect your urine in a clean cup or hold your home pregnancy tests under the urine stream. Both methods are equally effective but one is messier than the other. You can use either method of urine test. Just keep in mind that you need to keep the stick in the cup for as long as is mentioned on the box for the test to work.

The same is the case with the stream method. Keep the pregnancy test under the stream for the amount of time that is mentioned in the box.

4.6. Wait for the Test Results

After the test stick has collected the urine sample, you need to the stick down and wait for the results. Most tests will show results between 2 to 10 minutes. The period you need to wait before discovering whether you are pregnant or not will be mentioned on the box too. go according to that.

4.7. Understanding Pregnancy Tests

After the stipulated time is over, you can look at your pregnancy tests to see what the results are. A positive test result is usually displayed with two parallel lines. If you have a digital pregnancy test, the positive result will be written on the display screen. You won’t need to pore over the faint lines in those kinds of tests.

For a negative test result, a digital pregnancy test will display the words ‘Not Pregnant’ or ‘Negative’, and on a standard pregnancy test, there will be no second line that indicates pregnancy.

5. What to Do if You Are Pregnant?

A woman getting a sonogram in a hospital.
Photo by Mart Production on Pexels. Copyrighted 2021

If you received a positive result on your home pregnancy test kit, it would be a good idea to take another pregnancy test and confirm the good news. Although home pregnancy tests are as accurate as blood tests or tests done at clinics, if used as per directions, there still is a slight chance of false positive or even false negative results.

This doesn’t mean you don’t know how to use a pregnancy test properly. Even if you did everything right, sometimes there are chances of inaccuracy anyway. A second pregnancy test will confirm the news or rectify the mistake made by the previous one.

After the pregnancy has been confirmed, visit your healthcare professional to discuss prenatal care and get a health check-up. If you have any health conditions, it is important to cure those for the health of the baby.

6. Things Not to Do

There are some things you need to be aware of regarding pregnancy tests, and how to use pregnancy tests to get the most accurate results. Some mistakes must be avoided while taking the test, otherwise, you will not get accurate results even if you know how to use a pregnancy test properly.

6.1. Drinking Too Much Water

A woman drinking a glass of water.
Photo by Adrienn on Pexels. Copyrighted 2018.

Before using a pregnancy test, don’t drink too much water because too much water will dilute your pee and the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin hCG hormone will be diluted too. This can lead to inaccurate results, mainly false negative results.

6.2. Using Expired Pregnancy Tests

Always check the expiration date on your pregnancy tests before buying them. If your pregnancy test is expired, it won’t show you accurate results. You may get wrong results even if you know how to use a pregnancy test properly.

6.3. Buying from a Trusted Source

You should buy your pregnancy test from a trusted source or you can be duped with a defective pregnancy test kit. Apart from grocery stores and drugstores, you can get pregnancy tests from your local Planned Parenthood health centers.

Beware of fake clinics that lure you in by claiming they give free pregnancy tests offer medical help and teach how to take a pregnancy test. These shady clinics are run by people who are not wellness professionals.

7. Final Note

Pregnancy tests are a dime a dozen in the market and the ways of using them are mostly the same, but it is very important to buy from a trusted source, use a reputed brand, and check the expiration date before buying.

Always read the directions on the box of the pregnancy test to avoid any inaccuracy in results. Just keep these things in mind and you are sorted.

8. FAQs

8.1. Can a pregnancy test be wrong?

Yes, there is a possibility that home pregnancy tests can give false results.

8.2. How many pregnancy tests should I take?

Two tests for pregnancy are enough with the second test a few days later. However, to be really sure about pregnancy, you can seek professional help.

8.3. Am I pregnant if I miss my period?

It is not necessary to be pregnant if you miss a period. However, take a pregnancy test if you are too late for your next period.

  1. Theofanakis, Charalampos, et al. “Human chorionic gonadotropin: the pregnancy hormone and more.” International journal of molecular sciences 18.5 (2017): 1059. ↩︎
  2. Lazarenko, Gerald C., et al. “Accuracy and speed of urine pregnancy tests done in the emergency department: a prospective study.” Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine 3.4 (2001): 292-295. ↩︎
  3. Pike, Joanna, Sonya Godbert, and Sarah Johnson. “Comparison of volunteers’ experience of using, and accuracy of reading, different types of home pregnancy test formats.” Expert opinion on medical diagnostics 7.5 (2013): 435-441. ↩︎
  4. Nyberg, D. A., et al. “Early gestation: correlation of HCG levels and sonographic identification.” American journal of roentgenology 144.5 (1985): 951-954. ↩︎
  5. Edwards, R. G., and A. H. Gates. “Timing of the stages of the maturation divisions, ovulation, fertilization and the first cleavage of eggs of adult mice treated with gonadotrophins.” Journal of Endocrinology 18.3 (1959): 292-NP. ↩︎

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Yashi Singh

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