Trying to conceive is an exciting process that leaves many anxious to reach for a pregnancy test.
Although you are free to take a pregnancy test whenever you feel like it, there are ways to optimise your results.
When you are pregnant there is a rapid rise in the amount of a hormone called human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in the early days and weeks.
Due to this, it is recommended to only take a home pregnancy test at least one week after your missed period. The reasoning behind this waiting period is to let your hCG levels rise enough for the test to detect them.
Even if conception has occurred, pregnancy tests may not pick up the fertilised egg until the hormone levels rise.
With this in mind, there are a few ways to test if you are pregnant or not. Let’s have a look at a few of them.
Home pregnancy tests have really grown in accuracy over the years. There are even pregnancy tests designed to be extra sensitive in order to pick up you hCG levels in the early days. However, it is still recommended that you wait at least 7-12 days post conception to take the test.
If you get a negative result from the pregnancy test, but you still suspect that you are pregnant, you can do another test two days later. It is possible that you conceived later than you thought, and the level of hCG in your urine was not enough to be detected by the first test.
In order to reduce the risk of a false positive, do not test earlier than 12-14 days after ovulation. If you get another negative result you should speak to your doctor if you still have not had a period. They are able to carry out blood or urine tests to confirm if you are pregnant.
A correct urine sample is best done at your doctors to confirm if you are pregnant or not. Following a similar process to the home pregnancy test, the urine sample will test your levels of hCG. Urine sample tests are most accurate 7 to 12 days after the implantation of an egg.
The main difference between a doctor’s urine sample and a home pregnancy test is the ability to read the results. Your doctor will be able to make more accurate decisions based on your results.
As the tests are more sensitive, they will be able to tell you more about your pregnancy and make recommendations from there. Combined with a sonogram, this is the fastest way to confirm your pregnancy.
Following a positive urine sample, it is not unlikely that your doctor will request a blood test to confirm the results. In most cases, the results can take up to a few days as the samples are sent away for testing.
Blood tests are more sensitive than urine tests and can pick up the levels of hCG more accurately.
However, doctors will only do this test, if you have missed your period and have waited 6 to 8 days post ovulation.
There are two types of blood tests available to test for pregnancy: qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative blood test will determine if there is hCG present.
While the quantitative test will determine how much hCG is present - this helps to confirm if there are any issues with the pregnancy such as ectopic pregnancy.
In conjunction with a urine sample, a sonogram is the fastest way to check whether you are pregnant. A sonogram uses sound waves to get a picture of the fetus.
This method is great for determining the size of the fetus and how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Using a sonogram to confirm your pregnancy is most accurate 3 weeks after conception. During this time, the gestational sac has been formed and can be seen clearly.
Your doctor will carry out a transvaginal sonogram to confirm your pregnancy. A transvaginal sonogram can be ordered before your external ultrasound to get an early reading of the pregnancy.
All it takes is a simple insertion of a small sonogram wand into the vagina to get a good look at your uterus and confirm your pregnancy.
Waiting to take your pregnancy test can be tough when you just want an answer. However, your body might be giving you a few signs that it is pregnant. Most women will start to notice these symptoms up to 4 weeks from their last period.
The biggest and most obvious symptom to consider is a missed period. If you have missed a period, then you may want to look at taking a pregnancy test. Tests are most accurate one week after missing a period.
Other symptoms include nausea, fatigue, mood swings, implantation bleeding, and nipple sensitivity. Nausea is one of the most famous signs of early pregnancy.
If you are experiencing food aversion, a heightened sense of smell and an uneasy tummy, you may be well into your early pregnancy.
Extreme tiredness is not uncommon, if you are pregnant. If you are well rested but still longing to fall asleep, there is a good chance that you are pregnant.
Sensitive nipples, mood swings and implantation bleeding are a common occurrence in early pregnancies. Sensitive nipples is caused by an increase in hormones. These hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, cause a growth in fat and milk duct cells which causes the sensitivity.
Due to the influx of hormones, you might be having a couple of mood swings. If you are noticing a bit of spotting off of your period, this may be caused by implantation bleeding. This bleeding usually lasts up to 48 hours and is much lighter than your regular period. It is caused by the cell implantation into the uterine wall.
There are a number of ways for you to confirm your pregnancy. In order to reduce the risk of a false positive, it is best to give your body some time to focus on the hCG levels. If you find yourself noting the previously listed symptoms but keep on getting a false pregnancy test, it is best to consult your doctor.
Dr Beverley (MBChB, MRCGP) is a qualified GP. She works in a GP practice in Manchester and also helps in the out of hours GP service. She has experience in both obstetrics & gynaecology and paediatrics and has three children of her own.
Click here to read more articles by Dr Beverley Sanders
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