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Pregnancy tests

Am I pregnant?

If you think you may be pregnant you'll probably want to know for sure as quickly as possible.

You can do this with a home pregnancy test which, as long as you follow the instructions carefully and don't take the test too early, are as accurate as those offered at the doctor's surgery.

Home pregnancy tests

The beauty of these is they can easily be purchased from pharamcies and supermarkets, and can be carried out in privacy. You may also be able to get one free of charge from your GP or from a sexual health clinic.

They're looking for evidence in your urine of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG/hCG).

Pregnancy tests can be accurate from the first day of your missed period. Some tests are even more sensitive and claim they can be used from as early as 8 days after possible conception.

When taking a home pregnancy test:

  • Read and follow the instructions carefully – different products may vary.
  • Don't drink excessive amounts before the test as this could dilute HCG levels.
  • Be aware some fertility drugs or other medications can interfere with the test results.

According to the NHS, a positive test result is almost certainly correct but a negative result is less reliable.

If the result is negative but other signs make you feel you may be pregnant, then repeat the test after a few days or seek medical advice.

Blood tests

If you go to your GP and say you've done a home test and it was positive they are unlikely to carry out another urine test.

Occasionally a blood test may be required, such as for women who are undergoing fertility treatment.

Blood tests are more sensitive than urine tests and can detect very low levels of HCG. However, the blood has to be sent away for analysis so you won't get an immediate result.

Extremely high HCG levels may mean a woman is carrying twins.

Online pregnancy tests

More questionnaires than tests. These pose questions about possible pregnancy signs including breast changes, discharge, fatigue and emotional changes.

They're not very accurate and you may find the prediction varies between sites so you shouldn't rely on the results. However, they may be handy in letting you know whether or not you need to carry out a standard home pregnancy test.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 22, 2016

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