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Missed Period? Here’s How You Can Take A Pregnancy Test At Home

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Introduction

Once a woman is pregnant, she starts producing a particular hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that can be detected in blood and urine after about 9-10 days. There are two main types of pregnancy tests- a urine pregnancy test at home and a blood test done at your local hospital or pathology lab. 


In this blog, we look at important pregnancy symptoms that tell you when to take a pregnancy test after a missed period and how to use a pregnancy test kit.

Most pregnancy tests can be carried out from the first day of a missed period. If you are not sure when your next period is due, do the test at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex.

Dr Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D. in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

6 Signs You Should Be Taking a Pregnancy Test

Although many of these symptoms aren’t unique to a pregnancy and can just mean that you might be sick or have your period close. But if you’ve had unprotected intercourse in the past months or been trying to get pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test at home if you see any of the following symptoms: 

1. Missed period

If your expected menstrual cycle is delayed a week or more, you might be pregnant. However, this pregnancy symptom can be misleading if you have PCOS or an irregular menstrual cycle.

2. Tender and swollen breasts

Early in pregnancy, hormonal changes might make your breasts sensitive. You may see a positive pregnancy test if you’ve missed a period and have sore breasts. 

3. Nausea with or without vomiting

Although it’s called morning sickness, women may experience nausea for the first two months of pregnancy at any time of the day or night. If you’ve been throwing up irregularly recently, consider taking a urine pregnancy test. 

4. Frequent urination

Pregnancy can elevate your body’s blood amount, causing your kidneys to process extra fluid that goes into your bladder. So, if you find yourself urinating more often than usual, you may see a positive pregnancy test. 

Also Read: Can Sex Delay Your Periods: Evaluating Common Misconceptions and Realities

5. Light spotting

Although not all women have it, light spotting or implantation bleeding is one of the early signs of pregnancy. The light bleeding is usually light pink or brown in colour and happens 1-2 weeks after conception, around the time of your expected menstrual period. 

6. Other reasons

Other less obvious signs that tell you when to take a pregnancy test after a missed period include sudden fatigue, mood swings, bloating, cramping, sensitivity to certain odours and food aversions. If you’ve had unprotected intercourse, you can get pregnant without experiencing many of these symptoms. Whether you are trying for a baby or worried about an unplanned pregnancy, taking a pregnancy test is the surest way to find out. 

Early pregnancy factor (EPF), a hormone that can be detected 48 hours after fertilization. This differs from beta-HCG, which is present after implantation, and, thus, EPF can be detected sooner. Serum progesterone may also be tested, and its concentration increases linearly between weeks five and thirteen.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka – MBBS, MD(Pediatrics)

Clinic or At-Home: How To Take a Pregnancy Test?

Pregnancy tests confirm a positive or negative pregnancy by reacting to the amount of hCG in either your urine or blood. Different tests take different times to process the results and use unique ways to confirm a positive result. The two main types of pregnancy tests include:

1. Blood Test for Pregnancy 

Blood pregnancy tests are highly accurate in telling the exact levels of pregnancy hormones and what different levels indicate. If the hCG levels aren’t doubling every two days during the first few weeks of pregnancy, it might suggest a problem with the pregnancy. Similarly, extremely high hCG levels might mean twins or even an issue with the pregnancy.

Women having infertility treatments or struggling with PCOS pregnancy methods can use blood tests to determine how much of the hCG hormone is present in their bodies. The pregnancy test at the lab is slightly more expensive than a urine pregnancy test as the blood sample is taken and analysed at a hospital or healthcare provider’s office

2. Urine Pregnancy Test (UPT) – At home pregnancy test 


In a Urine Pregnancy Test (UPT), you first collect your urine sample and then with the help of a dropper add one to two drops of urine to the well of your UPT strip (as mentioned in the instructions) which then detects the hCG content in your urine. Some at-home pregnancy tests may show double vertical lines, a plus sign or even the word ”pregnant” to indicate a positive pregnancy. 

When taking a urine pregnancy test, for more accurate results, follow these steps:

  • Use your first-morning urine as hCG levels are most concentrated at this time of the day. If you are taking a pregnancy test at another time of the day, make sure you haven’t urinated for at least 3-4 hours.
  • Don’t drink excessive fluids before taking a pregnancy test, as it can dilute your hCG levels.
  • Read the instructions for the urine pregnancy test carefully and follow every step precisely.

You can buy urine pregnancy tests in any pharmacy or grocery without needing a prescription. Finally, other than testing too early, birth control, antibiotics, alcohol and other drugs do not affect pregnancy test results. 

Please remember the pregnancy test will still work even if you are on contraceptive pills containing hormones, as no method of contraception is completely effective, so it’s important to take a pregnancy test if you think you might be pregnant.

Dr Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D. in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

Also Read: Can You Get Pregnant On Your Period? Exploring Fertility Myths

Final Thoughts

Some of the most common signs of pregnancy such as missed periods, tender breasts, morning sickness, spotting and nausea may suggest a positive pregnancy, but many of these symptoms are also common to women who aren’t pregnant.  

The easiest way to confirm your pregnancy is by taking a urine pregnancy test at home that can be bought at any pharmacy. If you have infertility issues, a blood pregnancy test at a local healthcare centre or fertility clinic might be better. Do not interpret and conclude the results of a blood/urine test for pregnancy on your own. There are chances of a false negative test in some cases. Consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and advice. 

There are several reasons for taking a pregnancy test- you. maybe trying for a baby, an issue with your birth control or unprotected intercourse. No matter the reason, if your pregnancy test at home is positive, the best thing to do is reach out to your healthcare provider to know the way forward.

Also Read: How To Know If You’re Pregnant?

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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