How to Use a Pregnancy Test: A Step-by-Step Guide

    How to Use a Pregnancy Test: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Calendar check: it’s that time of the month again. This time is different as your monthly visitor is nowhere to be found. Maybe you are just delayed for a few days. Maybe your delayed period means something else, and you want to make sure. But you’ve never tried using a pregnancy test before. How do you use a pregnancy test? Don’t worry. This article will give you everything you need to know.

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    What Are Pregnancy Tests? How Do They Work?

    Home pregnancy tests are a reliable tool for women who have missed their period. The device basically looks for a specific hormone in your urine to see if you’re already expecting or not. This hormone is present only if you are pregnant.

    The pregnancy hormone is referred to as the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is normally produced in a woman’s placenta once a fertilized egg settles in the uterus.

    There are two types of pregnancy tests that you can try:

    • Urine test. This is the most common type of pregnancy test as it is a portable device you can use at home. You can pick this up in pharmacies and convenience stores without the need for a prescription.
    • Blood test. Obstetricians perform this type of test in their clinic to check whether your blood contains the pregnancy hormone hCG.

    A missed period is not the only sign of pregnancy, but many women experience delayed or irregular periods. You may want to try a pregnancy test if you show other early signs of pregnancy together with a missed period. These signs include:

    How to Use a Pregnancy Test: General Guidelines

    Inside every home pregnancy test kit is an instructional guide that teaches how to use a pregnancy test. Before performing the urine test, make sure to check the expiration date on the packaging. This is an important factor for the test to work correctly.

    There are many different home pregnancy tests available in the market, but they all generally follow the same guidelines and principles:

    1. Remove the plastic lid in order to reveal the absorbent window where you are supposed to place the urine sample.
    2. Align the absorbent tip directly where the urine stream is supposed to land. Collect the urine sample in about 7-10 seconds of flow to ensure that the testing tool obtains a sufficient amount. You may also consider another method of collecting the sample by placing the urine in a clean container. Afterward, go straight to dipping half of the absorbent pad in the urine for at least 10 seconds. It is also best to collect early morning urine, as it is more concentrated.
    3. Once the device is able to gather the necessary sample, you may re-cap it and leave it horizontally on a clean surface.
    4. Wait for the test to finish processing for 5 minutes.

    How to Use a Pregnancy Test.: Interpretation of the Results

    Pregnancy tests can determine the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine sample. The hCG levels provide an indication of either a positive or a negative result based on the number of lines that appear.

    Two Lines = Positive (Pregnant)

    Both the Control (C) and Test (T) sections have distinct and consistent color bands. The bands’ color intensity varies depending on the concentration and stage of hCG levels. The two lines yielded indicate a high hCG level (above 25 mIU/mL).

    One Line = Negative (Not Pregnant)

    On the top Control (C) section, there is only one color band, which indicates a low level of hCG (less than 5 mIU/mL).

    Key Takeaways


    Home pregnancy tests are accessible to every woman who may need to check whether or not they are pregnant.
    For first-timers, the rule of thumb to understand how to use a pregnancy test is easy to keep in mind. When the stick reveals two lines, then, congratulations! You are pregnant! But for those who have a one-line stick, don’t worry. You can still try again.
    Regardless of the results, you may consult your doctor and start discussing your plans. Doing so will give you the care and support you need.

    Learn more about getting pregnant here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Home Pregnancy Tests – How to Prepare, https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw227606#hw227614, Accessed November 3, 2021

    Pregnancy Test, https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/pregnancy-test/, Accessed November 3, 2021

    Pregnancy Tests, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9703-pregnancy-tests, Accessed November 3, 2021

    Pregnancy Test Instructions, https://www.med.unc.edu/timetoconceive/study-participant-resources/pregnancy-test-instructions/, Accessed November 3, 2021

    What is HCG?, https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/hcg-levels/, Accessed November 3, 2021

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    Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Aug 28
    Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD