Reading a home pregnancy test
This pregnancy test shows a positive result because you can see a pink line in the results window. The pink line in the control window shows that the test is working.
A missed period is often the first clue that a woman might be pregnant. Sometimes, a woman might suspect she is pregnant even sooner. Read on to learn when and how to test for pregnancy.
A missed period is often the first clue that a woman might be pregnant. Sometimes, a woman might suspect she is pregnant even sooner. Symptoms such as headache, fatigue, and breast tenderness, can occur even before a missed period. The wait to know can be emotional. These days, many women first use home pregnancy tests (HPT) to find out. Your doctor also can test you.
All pregnancy tests work by detecting a special hormone in the urine or blood that is only there when a woman is pregnant. It is called human chorionic gonadotropin(kohr-ee-ON-ihk goh-NAD-uh-TROH-puhn), or hCG. hCG is made when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. hCG rapidly builds up in your body with each passing day you are pregnant.
HPTs are inexpensive, private, and easy to use. Most drugstores sell HPTs over the counter. The cost depends on the brand and how many tests come in the box. They work by detecting hCG in your urine. HPTs are highly accurate. But their accuracy depends on many things. These include:
The most important part of using any HPT is to follow the directions exactly as written. Most tests also have toll-free phone numbers to call in case of questions about use or results.
If a HPT says you are pregnant, you should call your doctor right away. Your doctor can use a more sensitive test along with a pelvic exam to tell for sure if you're pregnant. Seeing your doctor early on in your pregnancy can help you and your baby stay healthy.
Blood tests are done in a doctor's office. They can pick up hCG earlier in a pregnancy than urine tests can. Blood tests can tell if you are pregnant about six to eight days after you ovulate. Doctors use two types of blood tests to check for pregnancy:
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Page last updated: February 01, 2017.
Content last reviewed: September 27, 2010.