If you are experiencing early symptoms of pregnancy, one of the first steps to determine if you’re pregnant is to take an at-home urine pregnancy test. Below is information you should know about at-home tests, useful information about missed periods and your next steps if you find out you are pregnant.
How do at-home pregnancy tests work?
An at-home urine pregnancy test uses the hormones in your urine to detect whether you are pregnant or not. Because it takes some time for these hormones to appear in your body, it’s smart to wait until 4 weeks after your last period to take the test.
Something to note – it’s extremely important to take into consideration the regularity of your menstrual cycle. If you know you’re regular and usually get your period the same time every month, you will most likely notice a missed period. However, some women can still get their latest period and be pregnant, largely depending on when conception took place during the cycle. We recommend waiting until a missed period, or at least two weeks after intercourse, even if you did get a period.
What is hCG and implantation?
hCG is a hormone that appears in your body after the process of implantation (where the embryo attaches to the uterus). This hormone is needed for the development of the embryo into a fetus and hCG levels in your body accelerate the farther along in early development. This is the hormone that pregnancy tests detect to determine pregnancy.
It’s important to understand implantation so it’s not confused with a period. About 1 in 3 women spot when the pregnancy implants in the uterus. Implantation bleeding happens a few days before your expected period. Common symptoms of implantation include cramps, spotting and light bleeding, which are similar to symptoms of a period.
How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
While they are a popular and helpful first step to determine pregnancy, home pregnancy tests are not always accurate. Many women experience false-negative results, meaning that the urine test shows up “not pregnant,” even though they are. This is almost always due to taking the test too early and having a lack of hCG hormones present in your body.
Whether the home urine pregnancy test is positive or negative, the best next step is to receive a lab-quality test to verify the results. While you could have this hormone in your body, a test will only show up positive if it’s a higher level, making it even more important to receive a professional and accurate pregnancy test.
Where can I get lab-quality pregnancy tests?
Most pregnancy resource centers, like First Step Women’s Center, offer free and confidential pregnancy tests. Because these tests are lab-quality, they are going to be more accurate than a home pregnancy test. In addition, our professional and friendly staff will be there to listen to your concerns, answer any questions about next steps you may have and will provide information on other services like no-cost ultrasounds and STD testing.
I’m pregnant. What are my next steps?
If you find out you are pregnant, it’s important to stay as calm as possible. First Step Women’s Center’s staff will provide you with helpful, confidential and unbiased information regarding your next steps and options, including parenting, adoption and abortion.
As an extra measure, we recommend that women who are pregnant receive an ultrasound. An ultrasound is a way to confirm pregnancy and is required prior to abortion procedures.
First Step Women’s Center is here for you. From verifying pregnancy to assisting you in your next steps, our supportive staff will be right there with you on the journey. Schedule your appointment with First Step today.
First Step Women’s Center does not perform or refer for abortions.
Murkoff H., Mazel S. What to expect when you’re expecting, 5th ed. New York: Workman Publishing, 2016