A pregnancy test checks your pee or blood to see if you’re pregnant.
There are different reasons you might take a pregnancy test. Maybe you’re trying to get pregnant and you want a positive result. Or maybe something interrupted your birth control. You also might take a pregnancy test before having a medical procedure or starting a new medication, to avoid complications. This is true whether you’re biologically female, nonbinary, or transgender male. If you have a uterus and ovaries (and you’re ovulating), and you’re having penetrative sex with a penis, you can get pregnant.
Here are the answers to some common questions about pregnancy tests.
At-home pregnancy tests check your pee for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Your body makes it when you’re pregnant.
Pregnancy tests check your pee or blood for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Your body makes this hormone when you’re pregnant and a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of your uterus.
This usually happens about 6 days after fertilization. Levels of HCG rise quickly, doubling every 2 to 3 days.
Two main types of pregnancy tests are blood tests and urine tests.
Pregnancy blood tests
You get these at your doctor’s office, but they’re not used as often as urine tests. That’s because they can be costlier and have the same results. But blood tests can detect pregnancy earlier than a home pregnancy test, about 7-10 days after ovulation. Results take 2 hours to 2 days.
A blood pregnancy test uses a small sample of your blood from a vein in your arm. It detects the presence and amount of the pregnancy hormone in your body. That’s helpful when your doctor needs to know the exact amount of HCG in your blood, and not just if it’s present in your blood.
You might get a blood test for pregnancy if you’re having fertility treatments or if your doctor thinks there might be a problem.
The two types of blood pregnancy tests are:A qualitative hCG test simply checks for hCG. It gives a “yes” or “no” answer to the question, “Are you pregnant?” Doctors often order these tests to confirm pregnancy as early as 10 days after conception. Some can detect hCG much earlier.A quantitative hCG test (beta hCG) measures the exact amount of hCG in your blood. It can find even very low levels of hCG. These tests may help track problems during pregnancy. Your doctor may use them along with other tests to rule out an ectopic pregnancy when the fertilized egg implants outside your uterus, or after a miscarriage when hCG levels fall quickly.
Pregnancy urine tests
You can take these at home or in a doctor’s office.
Along with being private and convenient, home pregnancy tests are quick and easy to use. They’re also very accurate if you follow the directions. These pregnancy tests all work in a similar way. You test your pee in one of these ways:Hold the test stick in your urine streamCollect pee in a cup and dip the test stick into itCollect pee in a cup and use a dropper to put it into another container
You’ll need to wait a few minutes before seeing the results.
After you take this test, confirm your results by seeing your doctor.
Urine home pregnancy tests are about 99% accurate. Blood tests are even more accurate.
A home test’s accuracy depends on:How closely you follow the instructionsWhen you ovulate and how soon the egg implantsHow soon after pregnancy you take the testThe sensitivity of the pregnancy test
Some pregnancy tests can spot hCG before you miss a period. But the results will be more accurate if you wait until the first day of a missed period.
Results may also be more accurate if you do the test first thing in the morning when your urine is more concentrated.
These are urine tests described in a section above. Here is some more information about them:
Where to buy a pregnancy test. They’re available in most drugstores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and grocery stores. Some dollar stores sell them. Some can be mail-ordered.
Pregnancy test price. Their cost varies, but they usually cost about $50 each. Some insurance plans cover the cost. You can also save money per test if you buy them in bulk.
Tips for taking at-home pregnancy tests. Some tips for taking home pregnancy tests are:Use your first morning pee. This is when your HCG levels are most concentrated and easily detected.Don’t drink a lot of fluids before you take the test. This can dilute your HCG levels.Make sure your test isn’t past its expiration date.Read the test’s directions and follow them exactly.
Results may show up as a line, a color, or a symbol such as a “+” or “-” sign. Digital tests show the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” It’s important to know what a positive or negative result means.
If you get a positive result, you’re pregnant. This is true no matter how faint the line, color, or sign is. If you get a positive result, you may want to call your doctor to talk about what comes next.
False-positive results happen in very rare cases. This means you’re not pregnant but the test says you are. You could have a false-positive result if you have blood or protein in your pee. Certain drugs, such as tranquilizers, anticonvulsants, hypnotics, and fertility drugs, could cause false-positive results.
If you get a negative result, you’re probably not pregnant. But you may be pregnant if:The test is past its expiration date.You took the test the wrong way.You tested too soon.Your pee is too diluted because you drank a lot of fluids right before the test.You’re taking certain medications, such as diuretics or antihistamines.
If you get a negative result, try retesting within about a week to double-check. Some home pregnancy tests suggest doing this no matter what your first results are.
False-negative results might happen if you take the pregnancy test too early. The earlier you take it, the harder it is to detect HCG. For best results, take a home pregnancy test after the first day of your missed period.
If you take the test twice and get different results, call your doctor. A blood test is a good idea to confirm the result.
If you have any other questions about the pregnancy test or the results, call your doctor or the telephone number listed with the test.
A faint line on a pregnancy test can be confusing. It can happen because it’s very early in your pregnancy and your pregnancy hormone level is low, or because some tests have less bold lines than others. Experts say a faint line usually means you’re pregnant. But see your doctor to be sure.
An evaporation line on a pregnancy test is a slight, colorless streak where the positive line should be. This might happen if you wait longer than suggested to read your test result, or if the test gets wet. It doesn’t mean you’re pregnant. It’s a good idea to take another test to get accurate results.
When you get a positive pregnancy test result, contact your doctor for an appointment. They might want to give you a blood test to confirm you’re pregnant. It’s important to know as soon as possible if you’re pregnant so you can start receiving prenatal care and making healthy lifestyle changes, if necessary.Pregnancy tests check your pee or blood for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Your body makes this hormone when you’re pregnant and a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of your uterus.Two main types of pregnancy tests are blood tests and urine tests.Urine home pregnancy tests, when taken correctly, are about 99% accurate. Blood tests are even more accurate.Urine home pregnancy tests are available in most drugstores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and grocery stores. Some dollar stores sell them. Some can be mail-ordered.If you get a positive pregnancy test result, contact your doctor for an appointment. Starting prenatal care as soon as possible is important for the health of you and your baby.
What are pregnancy symptoms in the first week? Most people have no symptoms the first week of pregnancy. Early signs usually appear weeks later. They include:missing a periodnausea and vomitingbreast tenderness and enlargementtiredness peeing more than usual, and at nightcravings foods, not liking foods you usually like, and a sour or metallic taste in your mouth even when you’re not eating
Can a urinary tract infection (UTI) cause a false positive pregnancy test? It’s rare but possible. Serious UTIs can cause your pee to have high levels of leukocytes and nitrite, which can cause a false positive pregnancy test result.
Can a pregnancy test be wrong? Yes. But at-home pregnancy tests, when taken according to their package directions, are about 99% accurate.
Why is my pregnancy test negative but I don’t have a period? It’s possible your negative test result isn’t correct, but that would be very rare. You probably aren’t pregnant.You might want to repeat the pregnancy test. You may have something else going on, or another medical issue, such as:BreastfeedingTaking hormonal birth controlTaking certain medsExperiencing perimenopauseYou have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)You don’t get enough sleepYou have a lot of stressYou have a thyroid conditionYou exercise too muchYou have recent weight changes
If you have any of these symptoms, get medical attention:Severe pain on one side of your bellyPain in one of your shouldersBleeding from your vagina (that’s not your period)Dizziness or faintingNausea or vomiting
Do COVID-19 tests still work after they expire? Here’s how to tell.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise again in the U.S., Americans are reviving a familiar precautionary measure: Screening for the virus using rapid at-home tests.
Many people still have kits the government formerly provided to all households for free, especially as some schools and businesses again require tests. Yet different COVID-19 tests bear expiration dates on their packaging that have long since passed, raising questions about whether they’re still effective.
Once in short supply, test kits are now easier to come by but are costly, costing roughly $25 for a pack of two tests. The White House sent rapid at-home COVID-19 test kits free of charge to Americans who requested them as recently as last December as part of its “winter preparedness plan.”
The good news is that some COVID-19 test kits that are past their expiration dates may still be effective. Here’s how to find out if your COVID-19 test is safe to use. It’s also still possible for both insured and uninsured people to get free testing. Why did the FDA extend expiration dates?
The Food and Drug Administration maintains a list of authorized over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests that indicates if the expiration date printed on their packaging is valid or if it has been extended.
The FDA has extended the expiration dates of a number of different test brands, lengthening their shelf lives to up to two years. The extensions come in response to manufacturers testing their kits for accuracy beyond their printed expirations dates and sharing the results with the FDA.
See the FDA’s full list of test-kit expiration date extensions here. Which test brands can you use after they’ve “expired”?
Abbott’s widely used BinaxNow COVID-19 test kits now have a shelf life of up to 22 months, depending on when the tests were manufactured. In January of 2023, the pharmaceutical firm told customers that kits they’d previously purchased “may now have a longer than labeled product expiry date.” To see if a BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test kit in your possession has a new epiration date, you can search for its lot number in the attached list here.
“All BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test kits currently have a twenty-two-month expiry date,” the company said. Abbott added that expiration dates could be extended again in the future, pending new data on their viability.
The Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test from Acon Laboratories can also be used well past its printed expiration date, according to the FDA, which granted the extension in March. The tests are good for an additional year past their expiration dates. For example, tests with printed “October 2022” expiration dates should be considered appropriate for usage until October 2023. What happens if a COVID-19 test is truly expired?
Users of other tests, like Ellume’s COVID-19 Home Test, should refer to the expiration date printed on the tests’ packaging. If a test truly has expired, the results it delivers cannot be trusted, according to the FDA.
“COVID-19 tests and the parts they are made of may degrade, or break down, over time. Because of this, expired test kits could give inaccurate or invalid test results,” the FDA said in a statement on its website. Coronavirus Pandemic More More
Cholesterol Home Test Kits
Do you know that you can check your cholesterol level at home? Cholesterol home test kits are available to use between appointments with your health care provider.
WebMD explores the use of cholesterol home test kits and discusses their reliability. Read on to learn whether using a cholesterol home test kit might be right for you.
The cholesterol home test kit is a convenient and effective way to test your cholesterol level. It allows you to monitor your cholesterol without having to go to a doctor’s office. And, rather than waiting days or weeks for cholesterol test results, the cholesterol test kit can give you results in a matter of minutes.
You can purchase a cholesterol home test kit at your local pharmacy or medical supply store. They are usually priced under $20. The standard cholesterol home test kit contains a lancet for drawing blood and test strips.
To use a cholesterol home test kit, you first prick your finger with the lancet. Next, you place the blood droplet on the test strip. The cholesterol home test strip has special chemicals that change colors after a few minutes. You then match the final color against a color guide that’s included with the kit. This color will tell you how much cholesterol is in your droplet of blood.
Some new cholesterol home test kits have an electronic meter. This meter functions in a similar way as a diabetes blood glucose meter. The test strips are inserted into the electronic device and a small computer measures the amount of cholesterol automatically. The electronically metered cholesterol home test kit costs more than the paper test strip method. The electronic meter kit, however, is helpful if you want to check your cholesterol level more frequently.
Your cholesterol level is one part of an equation that your doctor uses to determine your risk of a heart attack and stroke in the next 10 years. Other parts include your race, gender, age, HDL (good) cholesterol level, and blood pressure. In addition, the equation factors in your use of blood pressure medications, whether or not you have diabetes, and if you smoke.
Once you know your risk, you and your doctor can work to lower your likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. In addition to healthy lifestyle and dietary changes, you may need a medication known as a statin to reduce the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol that’s in your blood by 20 to 60 percent.
The cholesterol kit test results are only an estimate of your cholesterol level. While the test is often as accurate as the test your health care provider uses, this home test should not be a substitute for your health care provider’s assessment.
The reliability of cholesterol home tests varies, and the results can fluctuate. It depends on the maker of the kits. Many cholesterol home test kits advertise that they are greater than 95% accurate. Still, these cholesterol results should be considered approximations and should not take the place of a cholesterol test conducted by your health care provider.
In addition, even if you consistently get normal results from your cholesterol home kit test strips, it’s very important to consult with your health care provider. To determine your risk of heart disease, your health care provider will evaluate your cholesterol level along with other factors such as your weight, physical exam results, medical history, and family history. Your health care provider may conduct other tests aside from the cholesterol screening.
The FDA does regulate certain cholesterol home test kits. There are home test kits for HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, too. However, not all cholesterol home test kits you can buy meet the FDA’s stringent guidelines.
If you are unsure about which cholesterol home test kit to purchase, the FDA has set up the Over-The-Counter Database. You can find it on the FDA’s website. This database is an excellent resource to search for FDA-cleared cholesterol home test kits. You can also use it to find other types of home test kits.