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How To Use a Home Pregnancy Test

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Updated April 16, 2014

Using a Home Pregnancy Tests

Positive and Negative Home Pregnancy Tests (Positive Tests on Top - Negative Tests on Bottom)

Photo © 2014 Dawn Stacey

If you believe that you could be pregnant, a home pregnancy test can help you determine whether or not you may be pregnant. It is fairly simple to use a home pregnancy test, but it is essential that you thoroughly read the directions that come with the test. This is because the accuracy of the home pregnancy test results rests on how well you follow the directions and interpret the results. 

It is important to keep in mind that although most pregnancy tests have about the same ability to detect hCG (the pregnancy hormone), their ability to detect this hormone depends on how much hCG you are producing at the time that you take the test. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 10 days from when you think you could have gotten pregnant before using a home pregnancy test (or at least 7 days after a missed period).

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Varies depending on whicn pregnancy test brand you choose

Here's How:

  1. Purchase a test from a store or online. When buying the test, some experts suggest that you purchase one from a large store that tends to have a lot of product turnover; this way, you will be more likely to obtain a newer test and not one that has been sitting on the shelves for months.
  2. Be careful when handling the pregnancy test kit to help ensure more accurate results. Check the expiration date on the test and make sure it is still valid. If you have been storing the test for a while, especially in an area like a bathroom, where it gets warm or moist, inspect the test to make sure it has not deteriorated. If this is the case, you are better off buying a new one and throwing this test away.
  3. When you are ready to test, first read the directions carefully because they may be different from brand to brand. If you have any questions about how to perform the test or interpret the results, look for a toll-free number in the package instructions and call the manufacturer.
  4. Wash your hands with warm water and soap.
  5. Remove the testing device from its foil wrapper.
  6. Sit down on the toilet.
  7. Depending on the particular test, you should urinate in the collection cup or pee directly onto the stick. Some tests will give you the option to collect your urine either way. It is important to catch a "midstream sample." This means that you should let out a little bit of urine first, and then use the rest of your urine for the test.

    If the test requires you to pee directly onto a stick, place the absorbent tip side of the test stick in your urine stream with the "result window" facing up and pee on it for about 5-10 seconds (or whatever time is indicated in the directions).

  8. If you have collected your urine in a cup, use the supplied dropper to place a small sample in a testing well. If your test did not provide a dropper and indicated hat you could test from a collection cup, dip the absorbent end of the pregnancy test into the cup of urine and hold in place for 5-10 seconds (or whatever time frame stated in the directions).
  9. Place the testing stick on a flat, dry surface with the "result window" facing up. Wait the time frame indicated in the instructions for the results to appear (this can be anywhere from one minute to five minutes – though research has shown that some home pregnancy tests can take up to 10 minutes to yield an accurate result).
  10. While the test is analyzing the urine, there will most likely be a control window. You will probably see the background in the control window get darker as the urine passes through. Most control windows will display a line or symbol to indicate that the test is valid. If this control indicator does not appear, chances are very likely that the test is not valid or did not function properly.
  11. Once the amount of time specified has passed, you can check the results. Usually in a separate window (although the result can show up in the same window), if you are pregnant you may see a pink or blue line, a red plus or minus sign, a color change in the window or the urine in the test may change color, or the words pregnant or not pregnant. Keep in mind that the different tests may display the results differently, so make sure you read in the instructions what shape or symbol you should be looking for.
  12. If the test reveals a negative result and you do not get your period, you should retest in a couple more days or a week to make sure that you did not receive a false-negative result. Since the amount of hCG increases rapidly when you are pregnant, you may end up with a positive test if you test a few days later. This is why some pregnancy test kits come with more than one test, so you have an additional one to re-test with (incase you originally performed the test too soon).
  13. It is a wise idea not to presume that a negative result means you are not pregnant (especially if you have taken the test anytime before 7 days after your missed period). If, after waiting a week, you still have not gotten your period or a positive test result, you should make an appointment with your health-care professional to determine what may be going on.
  14. If you receive a positive test result, it is important that you make a medical appointment to have the result confirmed.

Tips:

  1. One-step pregnancy tests are typically considered the most convenient to use. These tests include dipsticks that can either be held briefly in the urine stream or dipped into a collection cup.
  2. Even though most test directions say that you can test your urine at anytime, your chances for a more accurate test result improve when you perform the test first thing in the morning, using your first morning urine. Your urine is more concentrated at this time, and if you are pregnant, your first morning urine will have a higher amount of hCG in it than urine from later on in the day.
  3. When you are ready to test, first read the directions carefully because they may be different from brand to brand. If you have any questions about how to perform the test or interpret the results, look for a toll-free number in the package instructions and call the manufacturer. If any line, symbol, or sign shows up in the results window, no matter how faint, you can consider the test to be positive. A line will not show up if the test does not detect hCG, so even the faintest line indicates that the test has picked up on hCG in your urine.
     
  4. If you mishandle the pregnancy test or do not understand the directions or how to interpret the results, you may not obtain an accurate result. You may also want to consult your doctor or pharmacist about medications that could alter the results of a pregnancy test.

    Also know that if the test sits for too long, an “evaporation” line may appear. If this occurs, do not mistake it as a positive test result.

  5. Some women may have ovulated later in their cycle than when they believed they did or could have miscalculated their ovulation date. If this the case, there is a good chance that you may have taken the pregnancy test too soon to obtain a positive result.

What You Need:

  • A pregnancy test kit
  • A watch or time
  • (Possibly) a clean collection cup
  • A flat surface
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