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What should I know about pregnancy testing kits?

Dr. Deborah Raines, MSN
Nursing Specialist

Home pregnancy tests can be purchased in retail outlets that sell health-related items. They are available without a prescription as an over-the-counter purchase. Women who suspect they might be pregnant, can use these home testing kits, before seeking care from a healthcare provider. A home pregnancy test works by detecting level of a hormone, HCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin in the woman’s urine. HCG is known as the hormone of pregnancy as it is secreted by the developing placental tissue in the early week following implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. Unlike the pregnancy test performed at a healthcare facility which measures the amount of HCG, home pregnancy kits only measure the presence or absence of the hormone.

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Pregnancy testing kits are home-use kits used to determine pregnancy. The accuracy of these tests depends on how these kits are handled and how the results are interpreted. In case you miscalculate when your period is due next and test too early, there is a good chance that you might test falsely negative. This is because the placenta might not have produced enough human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) for it to reflect in the test. Using first morning urine is preferred because it is likely to have the highest amount of the HCG hormone.

Typically, while using a pregnancy testing kit, you will need to place the end of the strip in your urine stream or immerse the strip in a container of collected urine for 5 to 10 seconds. A minute or two later, you will see a colored line, a plus or a minus sign, a color change or the words "pregnant" or "not pregnant" on a strip or window on the dipstick. To ensure accuracy, conduct the test the first time you urinate in the morning and collect a midstream sample. For more accurate results, use the kit a week after you have missed your period.

Any woman who thinks she is pregnant can use the test. If the test remains negative for multiple weeks and you still have not had your menstrual cycle, it is best to consult your doctor. If you have taken multiple tests and the results vary, it is best to consult your doctor as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.