The home pregnancy test is one of the most popular ways to detect pregnancy and is usually the first test conducted when you suspect that you may be pregnant. There are a variety of home pregnancy test kits available over-the-counter. All home pregnancy test kits work by detecting the levels of a protein hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
hCG is produced when an egg is fertilized and the levels of hCG increase after conception and can be detected in the mother’s urine by a home pregnancy test. By 10 days after conception, hCG levels are about 25 milli-International Units (mIU). Each test ranges in sensitivity, with some urine tests being able to detect hCG levels as low as 15 mIU.
A home pregnancy test is very easy to perform, though each test kit varies slightly in a procedure. It is important to read the instructions included with the home pregnancy test before you use it. Most home pregnancy test kits have detailed diagrams that you can compare the results against to see if it is a positive (indicates you are pregnant) or a negative (indicates that you are not pregnant). Do not use a home pregnancy test kit that has passed its expiration date as the results cannot be guaranteed. As there is a slight chance that the results of a home pregnancy test may be inaccurate there are packs available that contain two pregnancy tests so that you can retest if necessary.
This is especially important if you have a negative test result from the first test but are still worried that you may be pregnant a few days later. The most common reasons for a false result being given by a home pregnancy test are performing the test too early, not following the instructions correctly or having a faulty pregnancy test kit.
The majority of home pregnancy test kits come with a testing strip which, when exposed to urine, detects the presence of hCG. This strip is usually encased in a plastic handle to enable you to hold it comfortable whilst performing the test. The basic instructions for taking a home pregnancy test are:
- Remove the test strip from the home pregnancy test kit package
- Insert the test strip in your urine stream or dip the strip into a cup of urine depending on the instructions for the particular home pregnancy test kit
- Wait for the indicated time
The test strip will have changed colors or be displaying a symbol that alerts you to whether you are pregnant or not depending on the type of indicator used. It is important to correctly interpret the results of a home pregnancy test it and consult a doctor if you are pregnant or unsure about the result.