Your Complete Guide to Home Pregnancy Tests

Could you be pregnant?


You’ve decided that the time is right and you can’t wait to hear the pitter patter of tiny feet around your home.


You’ve been trying to get pregnant (and having a great time doing so, thank you very much) and you think that this time it could really be real.


Well, there’s only one way to find out and that’s by taking a pregnancy test!


Yes, the time has come to pee on the stick, so come with us as we break down exactly what you need to know about how tests work, how to take your test, and which test is right for you.



How do pregnancy tests work?


Pregnancy tests work by checking to see if you are producing a hormone called hCG, which stands for human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (now you can see why we just call it hCG).


This hormone is produced when you’re pregnant, which is why it’s sometimes known as the pregnancy hormone, and as your pregnancy progresses it starts to appear in your urine and blood.


The hCG hormone can appear in your urine around a week before you’re expected to start your period, normally increasing more rapidly as the first day of your missed period gets closer.


However, some women produce more hCG than others, so the amounts of hCH in your blood or urine can differ depending on your own natural hormone levels.


When you have a positive home pregnancy test result, it means that the test has detected hCG in your urine, meaning that it’s almost certain that you’re pregnant.



How accurate are pregnancy tests?


At home pregnancy tests are more accurate than ever, with some being over 99% accurate when you use them properly.


Of course, this differs from test to test, so your best bet is to check the packaging and information leaflet that come with your pregnancy test to see exactly how accurate it is.


And, of course, you’re going to want to read that leaflet to make sure that you’re using the test correctly so that your test result is as accurate as it could possibly be.


Some people might want to confirm their pregnancy test results with a test from their doctor, but home pregnancy tests are so accurate that your doctor might not think that another test is necessary.



Can a pregnancy test be wrong?


Yes, pregnancy tests can be wrong sometimes. Although pregnancy tests can be up to 99% accurate, that still leaves a 1% chance that your pregnancy test won’t show the correct results, and these numbers still rely on you using the test correctly.


This is why some women choose to do a second pregnancy test, so they can be sure that the result is correct.


If your test results don’t match up after taking two tests, it might be time to talk to your doctor and see if they can give you a blood test to confirm whether or not you’re pregnant.


There are a couple of things that can affect how accurate your pregnancy test result is, including:


  • You drink a lot of water – this can dilute the amount of hCG in your urine
  • You have taken the test too early – your pregnancy test can’t detect hCG levels if they’re too weak to pick up yet
  • You haven’t taken the test correctly
  • Your pregnancy test is out of date – always check the expiry date on your test’s packaging
  • You take medication that can affect pregnancy test results – some examples of these include promethazine allergy medicine, some medicines used to treat epilepsy, and some medicines used for infertility



When should I take a pregnancy test?


If you’re planning on taking a pregnancy test, the best time you can take it is first thing in the morning.


This is because you’ve been holding your pee in all night as you’ve been asleep, so it’s more concentrated when you get up. This means that if there is any hCG pregnancy hormone in your urine there will be more of it first thing in the morning.


If you’re not going to have time to take your test in the morning (getting out of bed and getting to work on time can be a rush at the best of times) then you can take it later in the day or in the evening.


If you’re planning on taking your test during the day, try to hold your pee in for as long as possible before taking the test and avoid drinking too much water or other drinks.


This will make your pee more concentrated and make it easier for the test to detect your hCG levels.



How early can you take a pregnancy test?


Different pregnancy tests have different levels of sensitivity which means that they can be taken at different times in your cycle to determine whether or not your pregnant.


For the most accurate results, you should take your home pregnancy test on the first day of a missed period, meaning the day after your period was due to start.


This is usually when your hCG hormones have increased dramatically enough that any pregnancy test can detect it with accuracy.


However, there are some pregnancy tests that can be taken as early as 5 or 6 days before your missed period. These are sensitive enough to detect even the smallest amounts of hCG hormone in your urine so you can find out whether you’re pregnant as soon as possible.


If you do take one of these tests in the days leading up to your missed period, don’t worry if it shows a negative result.


As we mentioned earlier, your levels of pregnancy hormone may rise more slowly than others, meaning that it could still be too weak for your test to detect even if you are pregnant. Take another test in a couple of days when your period is due to start for more accurate results.



How do you take a pregnancy test?


The majority of modern home pregnancy tests can be used by holding the end of your test into your urine stream for a couple of seconds.


When you’ve peed on the stick, you’ll leave it for a couple of minutes so the test can work its magic and tell you whether or not you’re pregnant. Pretty simple, huh?


Many women prefer this method of testing because it’s quick and simple to do, but if you’re not into the whole peeing on a stick thing, some pregnancy tests will also give you the option of peeing into a cup instead.


You can then place the end of the pregnancy testing kit into the cup of urine for a few seconds and take the test that way. Either way, after a couple of minutes your test will show its results and you’ll know if you’re pregnant.


Of course, you should always read your test’s information leaflet and packaging to be 100% sure that you’re using the test correctly so that you can get the most accurate results possible.



How do you read pregnancy test results?


Each pregnancy test differs in how it shows its results, so if you need to know what your results mean then your best bet is to read the packaging your test came with and see what that says.


Usually, pregnancy tests will have a window on the side that will show one or two lines depending on whether or not you’re pregnant.


This differs from test to test, some will show lines, some will show a line or a cross, some Clearblue tests will simply show the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant”, so you’ll know without a shadow of a doubt.


If you’re not sure what your own test results mean, take a good look at that packaging and find out!



What is the best pregnancy test?


There isn’t one best pregnancy test that is leaps and bounds ahead of all of the other pregnancy tests on the market, that would be silly, but there are different kinds of tests available.


Basically, your best pregnancy test is whichever one is right for you.


For example, you might be more interested in knowing your test results as soon as possible, meaning that you’ll want to choose a test that can give you answers up to 6 days before your missed period.


If you can’t stand waiting for your test results, you might pick a test that can give you results in just 1 minute.


Don’t want the hassle of working out what the lines on your test result mean? Choose a Clearblue test that will clearly say whether or not you’re pregnant in words, some of these Clearblue tests can even tell you how many weeks pregnant you are too!


There’s a test out there for everyone, you just have to choose what’s important to you.



There we go, you’re ready to choose your pregnancy test and find out whether or not you’re pregnant!


Make sure you’re mentally prepared, because you could be about to hear the very best news of your life.


The news is waiting for you, so let’s find out together – we can’t wait to celebrate with you!



Laura Henderson - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 22 September 2021
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