If you aren’t sure you need to take a pregnancy test, or you don’t know what signs to look for, you’re not alone. Early pregnancy symptoms can be hard to detect and easy to misinterpret. That’s why it’s a good idea to take a pregnancy test if you’ve been sexually active and you are noticing any of the following symptoms:
- Missed period
- Unexpected changes to your body such as headaches, tiredness, breast sensitivity, nausea, or vomiting
- Unexplained mood changes like irritability, mood swings, food cravings, or sensitivity to smells.
These are a few of the most common and well-known pregnancy symptoms. However, most women experience these symptoms differently, and some may have very few of them at all. That’s why it’s important for you to schedule a pregnancy test when you experience any of these symptoms.
How a Pregnancy Test Works
Pregnancy tests work by measuring the levels of HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, present in your bloodstream or urine. HCG is a hormone that is only produced by women when they are pregnant and builds up in your body over time. Urine-based pregnancy tests display a positive result if HCG is detected.
When to Take a Pregnancy Test
Most doctors recommend that you wait until the day of your first missed period before taking a urine pregnancy test. Most pregnancy tests usually aren’t accurate until 10 days after fertilization, as it gives your body time to build up a high enough level of HCG to be detected. Before 10 days, the levels of HCG in your body are often too low for the test to detect them accurately. Call LifeNet today to schedule a free pregnancy testing.
How Accurate Are Pregnancy Tests?
If you do end up taking a pregnancy test, you might wonder how accurate your results are. This is a common concern, and it often leads women to take extra tests unnecessarily. In truth, pregnancy tests are extremely accurate when they are performed correctly. Most inaccurate test results are because of a mistake performing the test, not a problem with the test itself.
When taken properly, a urine-based pregnancy test is over 99% accurate in determining pregnancy. However, pregnancy tests can give you inaccurate results if you:
- Take the test too early.
- Take the test while using certain medications, such as fertility medications.
- Drink too much fluid before taking the test (this can dilute your urine, which lowers the concentration of HCG for the test to detect).
- Use an expired pregnancy test.
- Don’t follow the instructions correctly.
Pregnancy tests can give two false results – a false positive (where a pregnancy is indicated when you aren’t really pregnant) and a false negative (where the pregnancy test says you aren’t pregnant when you really are). False negatives are relatively common, whereas false positives are exceedingly rare.
A false negative can be triggered in many ways. You could be trying to take the test too soon, you could be drinking too much fluid before taking the test, or could even be performing the test incorrectly. Make sure you double-check all the directions and follow them exactly as they are written. In contrast, a false positive only has a few possible causes, such as women taking fertility medications that produce a false reading on their test. In most cases, however, a positive pregnancy test is a good indication you are pregnant.
What Do I Do Next?
If you suspect you’re pregnant and are not sure what your next steps should be, we can help. We provide free pregnancy testing, pregnancy options counseling, parenting classes, community referrals and resources, and more. Call LifeNet today at 530.727.9888 to schedule your appointment. We’re here to support you every step of the way.