Home Pregnancy Tests 101- learn how HPTs work

When to take them (accurately!), and when you’ll get results

Am I pregnant? Wondering if you may be pregnant but can’t wait to see the doctor? Get the lowdown on home pregnancy tests.

Most over-the-counter home pregnancy tests are accurate 95 to 99 percent of the time—but the accuracy depends on your ability to perform the test as precisely as possible. The more opportunities for making mistakes, the greater the chance that your results will be affected.

How Home Pregnancy Tests Work

Home pregnancy tests determine whether or not you are pregnant based on the detection of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which is released by the placenta and can be detected in a pregnant woman’s urine. Generally, your body makes 25 miu (milli-international units) of hCG about 10 days after conception. If the test you take is geared to detect a hormone level higher than what your body has produced, it may give you a false negative. Your test results can also be affected if you are taking certain medications—such as Pregnyl, Profasi, Pergonal, Humegon—that contain the pregnancy hormone.

To help make your test as accurate as possible, be sure to follow the test manufacturer’s directions closely and conduct the test with clean hands. It is usually recommended to sample your first morning urine for optimal results.

Even though these “do-it-yourself” pregnancy tests are quite accurate, you should still have a blood test to confirm a positive test result. After all, you want to be absolutely sure that the good news is, in fact, true. And if your home pregnancy test comes back negative, don’t despair. Sometimes a test done early in your cycle can produce a false negative. It’s worth waiting a few days and trying again. Who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised!

Aimstick Test Strip or Cassette

How it works: Aimstick home pregnancy tests are available as a test strip or as a test card. The test strip must be submerged in a sterile container with a urine specimen for a minimum of five seconds. For the test card, using the pipette provided with the kit, you’ll need to drop four to five urine sample drops onto the circle target area.

When to take it: You can use the Aimstick tests one day after you miss your period.

Result time: It takes both the test strip and the cassette three to five minutes to provide results (the tests should be discarded after five minutes).

Medical interactions: Fertility medications containing hCG may affect test results. Birth control pills, alcohol, painkillers, and antibotics shouldn’t affect either test result.

Detects 20 mIU/ml and greater.

Answer Quick & Simple

How it works: The Answer Quick & Simple midstream test uses a stick design with an absorbent tip. The test stick tip is placed in the urine stream for at least five seconds to achieve the test results.

When to take it: You can take the Answer test as early as four days before you expect to start your period.

Result time: Expect to see results within three to five minutes.

Medical Interactions: Medication that contains the pregnancy hormone hCG can affect your test results. Painkillers, birth control pills, and antibiotics won’t affect the result.

Detects 100 miu of hCG.

Clearblue Easy

How it works: Clearblue Easy employs a midstream stick design with an absorbent tip. The absorbent test tip is placed in the urine stream for at least five seconds in order to achieve the test results. (Tip: Make sure to keep the tip dry before you take the test and to hold the tip downward during the test.)

You can also buy digital versions of Clearblue Easy which take the guessing out of how to read the pregnancy lines—the test will tell you specifically if you are “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” Plus, after you buy one test, be sure to keep the test holder to use again and again (you can purchase the test strips separately and save money).

When to take it: You can take the Clearblue Easy tests as early as four days before your expected period.

Result time: Test results appear in one to three minutes, depending on which test you use.

Medical Interactions: Medications that contain the pregnancy hormone can affect the test. Rare medical conditions may also affect the test. Alcohol and birth control pills should not affect your test results.

Detects 50 miu of hCG; Clearblue Easy tests available in the UK detect 25 miu of hCG.

e.p.t.

How it works: The e.p.t. design is a midstream test stick with an absorbent tip. The tip of the test stick is placed in the urine stream for at least five seconds in order to achieve accurate results. (Tip: Be sure to lay the test stick flat while awaiting the results.) The e.p.t. brand also offers a digital test. Much like Clearblue Easy, the test will show a “pregnant” or “not pregnant” notation upon completion.

When to take it: You can take the e.p.t. test up to four days before you expect to begin your period.

Result time: Test results are achieved in two minutes.

Medical Interactions: Medications that contain the pregnancy hormone hCG can affect the test. Testing too soon after administration of fertility drugs may give a false positive result. Rare medical conditions may also affect the outcome. Alcohol, pain killers, antibiotics, and birth control pills shouldn’t affect the results.

Detects 40 miu of hCG.

Early Pregnancy Tests

How it works: Early Pregnancy Tests are available in both a test strip and a midstream test format. To use the test strip, fill a container (preferably a sterile, or boiled, glass container) with urine and dip the strip into the container for five minutes. To use the midstream test, simply remove the cap and hold the stick in your urine stream for at least seven seconds. Replace the cap and await the test results.

When to take it: If you know your ovulation date, you may begin testing as early as seven to 10 days past ovulation.

Result time: For the test strip, expect results around five minutes; for the midstream test, you should have test results within two to five minutes.

Medical interactions: Fertility medications containing hCG may affect test results. Alcohol, pain medications, antibiotics, and birth control pills shouldn’t affect the test results.

Detects 20 mIU/ml hCG and greater.

Fact Plus

How it works: The Fact Plus HPT device is a square cassette with a urine well. Urine is collected in a cup and added to the urine well with a dropper.

When to take it: You can take the Fact Plus test as early as four days before you anticipate getting your period.

Result time: Test results are achieved in two minutes (although a positive result may appear in just one minute).

Medical Interactions: Fertility drugs containing hCG can affect the result. Also, testing with Fact Plus too soon after administration of fertility drugs may give a false positive result. Oral contraceptives, pain relievers, antibiotics, hormone therapies and other commonly used medications should not affect the test result.

Detects 150 miu of hCG.

First Response

How it works: First Response employs a wide midstream test stick with an absorbent tip (which is placed in the urine stream for at least five seconds to achieve the test results).

When to take it: The test can detect if you are pregnant up to five days before a missed period.

Result time: Test results are achieved in three minutes.

Medical Interactions: Fertility drugs containing hCG can affect the test results. Alcohol, painkillers, antibiotics, or the contraceptive pill should not affect the test results.

Detects 100 miu of hCG.

The Next Step

If you take a home pregnancy test and the result is negative, don’t be too discouraged. Watch to see if your period starts within the next five to seven days. If your period doesn’t start, consider testing again. If you still see a negative result yet don’t get your period, be sure to consult with your OB-GYN, nurse, or midwife.

If the test is positive, congratulations! Be sure to call your OB-GYN for an appointment and to schedule a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. Meanwhile, start watching out for toxins and medications that can harm you and your baby. If you’re taking a prescription or other daily medication, check with your OB-GYN and the prescribing physician to see if it is safe for you to continue taking during pregnancy.

If you’ve not already started, now is the time to begin taking a prenatal vitamin, getting moderate exercise, and eating well for both you and your baby-to-be. Enjoy the ride—your life as a new mama is just about to begin!

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