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Using A Home Pregnancy Test

You can find out if you're pregnant easily at home using commercially available do-it-yourself pregnancy kits, or by going to see your doctor or family planning clinic.

Home pregnancy tests

Pregnancy can be determined in various ways using different tests at different stages following conception, with some methods being more accurate than others. There are unreliable signs (such a sickness, missed period, etc) that may suggest that you're pregnant. More reliable are pregnancy tests on blood and urine. These tests will show the presence of the pregnancy-related hormone hCG.

The hCG can be detected in your urine by a range of pregnancy kits that are used extensively at doctors' surgeries and clinics. They are also available at pharmacies for home-testing purposes. Some chemists now also offer women a pregnancy-testing service using these kits for a small fee.

Although home pregnancy test kits are fairly expensive, they are simple to use, can be used as early as the first day of your missed period (two weeks postconception), give quick results and are very accurate.

It's important to follow the instructions of your particular pregnancy kit carefully in order to get an accurate result. It's best to use a morning urine sample before drinking anything, since levels of hCG will be more concentrated.

A positive result (indicating that you may be pregnant) is more reliable than a negative one. You should note, however, that various factors could affect the accuracy of your result, particularly if you use the test incorrectly, are taking certain medications (for example, antidepressants or fertility drugs) or are approaching the menopause, when some women have irregular or infrequent periods.

If you carry out a home test as early as 1-4 days after the first day of your missed period, it may be advisable to repeat the test one week later when levels of hCG are higher. This will confirm the result. Note, however, that a second test may show up negative, even if the first test was positive, and you may start your period a few days later. Sometimes the fertilised egg may fail to implant in the womb and a normal/late period follows. Usually, the reason that this occurs is that something has gone wrong with the pregnancy and the mother has miscarried.

Most doctors or clinics use urine tests to confirm pregnancy.

However, some may prefer to carry out a blood test, which can detect levels of the hCG hormone with almost 100% accuracy and as early as two weeks after conception. This is roughly when your next period is due.

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