For the past couple of weeks, you’ve constantly been feeling hungry and more tired than usual. Plus, you seem to be set off by the most trivial issues – like that time you had a full-blown meltdown over the Johnson & Johnson baby commercials.
If you’ve been experiencing any of these signs, there’s only one thing that could be causing them, pregnancy! But before you jump to any conclusion and start window shopping for cute baby items, you’ll want to take a pregnancy test to confirm.
The good thing is, we now have self pregnancy test kits, which let you conduct these tests discreetly at home. Are you wondering what the best home pregnancy tests are? Or how they work? Read on to learn more.
How does a home pregnancy test work?
To understand how a home pregnancy test works, it’s best to start from the beginning.
So after conception, a fertilized egg usually attaches itself to the uterus lining. Soon after that, the placenta starts forming and produces a hormone called human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is carried through the bloodstream and urine. The further along you are in your pregnancy, the more the hCG your body produces. In fact, this hormone’s levels increase twofold every few days in the first couple of weeks.
Now home pregnancy tests contain monoclonal antibodies, which are designed to detect the presence of hCG in urine. It means that if the hCG levels in your urine are high, the test kit will indicate that you’re pregnant. This explains why experts often recommend that you wait a little longer to take the test. This way, you give your body ample time to build detectable levels of the hCG hormone.
Types of pregnancy tests
1. Digital vs. non-digital
Once you’ve decided to take a pregnancy test, the first decision you have to make is choosing between digital and non-digital tests.
They are equally accurate. The only difference is the way they display results. While the digital one spells out the word “pregnant,” the manual one requires you to interpret the displayed lines.
So in terms of ease of use, digital tests have the upper hand. With these kits, you don’t have to guess what the single or double lines mean. However, they are slightly more expensive than their non-digital counterparts. It means that if you’re looking to test several times, non-digital kits might be a better option.
2. Early detection vs. regular detection
Early detection kits are equipped with technology, which makes them highly sensitive. This explains why they’re able to detect pregnancy long before you start missing your periods.
With conventional testing strips, they can only detect hCG levels if they’re high enough. The threshold for such tests is at least 40 mIU/mL (milli-international units per milliliter). In contrast, early detection kits can detect levels as low as 15 mIU/mL of hCG. It means you can find out if you’re pregnant up to 10 days after ovulation.
Pregnancy test instructions
At-home pregnancy tests are designed in such a way that makes them easy to use.
Here’s how you should go about the testing process:
- First, wash your hands thoroughly using warm water and soap.
- Next, remove the testing device from its wrapper. Ensure you hold this strip from the colored end, not the end with a test window or arrows.
- Depending on the test kit you have, you’ll be required to urinate either directly on the stick or into a collection cup. The majority of tests provide a means of collecting your urine sample either way.
- If you’re required to urinate directly on the stick, place the section with the absorbent end in your urine stream. Pee on it for whatever amount of time is stated in the instructions.
- If you collected your urine in a cup or container, use the provided dropper to transfer a tiny amount of it to the testing device. In some instances, a dropper may not be provided. It means that you should insert the absorbent tip into the urine sample. Check instructions for the specific amount of time you’re required to leave the test strip in the specimen.
- Lastly, place the testing stick or strip on a flat surface. The instructions will indicate just how long you should wait to read the results.
How to read a pregnancy test result
The first thing to note is that you should follow the instructions to the letter. If you’re required to check the results exactly after 3 minutes, don’t delay and check a minute later.
If you’re not pregnant, only one colored line will appear on the results window. But if you are pregnant, expect to see two lines. That said, the second line doesn’t have to be very distinct; even a faint line on a pregnancy test could be an indication that you have a baby on board.
Keep in mind that home pregnancy tests aren’t 100% accurate. There’s a slight chance of getting a false negative or positive. A false negative pregnancy test means the results indicate that you’re not pregnant when you actually are. On the other hand, false positive means the test yields a positive outcome, yet you’re not pregnant.
Even if you’ve confirmed your suspicion with a home pregnancy test, it’s still wise to follow-up with a doctor’s appointment. Your doctor will confirm the pregnancy with either a urine test or a blood test. This is to ensure that you and your baby get off to a good start.
Our top 4 picks for the best pregnancy test kits
First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test
Its ease of use, high precision, and speedy results are just a few of the reasons why the First Response Early Pregnancy Test tops our list. This kit is designed to be highly sensitive; it can give you results up to 6 days prior to your missed period. And if you take the test after missing your period, the results’ accuracy increases to 99%.
Speaking of results, this test is easy to read. It displays dark-pink lines, which are easy to decipher. One line indicates that you’re not pregnant, while two lines mean you’re pregnant.
Another thing we love about the First Response pregnancy test is its speed. Once you take the test, you will receive your results in as little as 3 minutes. This explains why it’s often ranked as the quickest pregnancy test.
Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown
Do you like the convenience that digital pregnancy tests offer? If so, the Clearblue pregnancy test with Smart Countdown is just what you need. One of our favorite features of this test is the smart countdown. It gives you a bit of assurance that the testing device is truly working. More importantly, it tells you when you’re about to receive results, so you don’t have to sit around wondering.
Another selling point for this Clearblue pregnancy test is the “Floodguard technology.” The purpose of this is to prevent urine from swamping the test kit, which would otherwise lead to a false result.
Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test is also among the most accurate pregnancy tests, providing correct results at least 99% of the time. And if you’re too anxious, you can take the test up to 5 days before your missed period and still get the right outcome.
BFP Ovulation & Pregnancy Test Strips
Are you looking to start a family? If so, one of the things you need to do is get a better understanding of your ovulation cycle. Luckily, Fairhaven Health has got you covered by offering a 2-in-1 kit, BFP Ovulation & Pregnancy Test Strips, which has test strips for both ovulation and pregnancy.
The ovulation test strips tell you when there’s a surge in your luteinizing hormone (LH), so you know the best time to try and conceive. If you suspect that you’re pregnant, you have BFP (big fat positive) pregnancy test strips at your disposal to confirm your suspicions. In all, you get 40 ovulation test strips and 10 pregnancy test strips.
Both of these test strips are very accurate, so much so that you’ll find them in use at clinics and doctors’ offices. And they’re fairly priced too, giving you good value for your money.
Wondfo Pregnancy Test Strips
If you’re the kind of person who takes a pregnancy test, then retests seconds after and then one more time the next day, to be certain, you will love the pocket-friendly test strips by Wondfo. This brand offers a bundle that includes up to 50 strips. So you won’t feel guilty blowing through them in a short amount of time.
Another area where Wondfo Pregnancy Test Strips shine is their simplicity. These aren’t the sophisticated strips that are usually difficult to read. In fact, they use a relatively similar concept to the litmus paper test you learned about in 8th grade.
All you have to do is dip the stick into your urine sample and wait a couple of minutes. If you’re not pregnant, just 1 line will appear. If you’re expectant, you’ll see 2 lines on the strip.
Wondfo claims that the strips can detect pregnancy at least a day after a missed period when it comes to accuracy. But some moms-to-be say they’ve been able to test a week before their missed period, and the results from this kit were spot on!
Pregnancy test tips
Here are a few tips for taking a pregnancy test:
- Choose a reliable test kit. When choosing between different types of pregnancy test kits, first check accuracy. You don’t want to use a self pregnancy test kit that gives you false information.
- Take the test in the morning. If you’re taking a urine pregnancy test, it should be the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning. This is because urine is more concentrated with hCG hormone at that time. In turn, the chances of getting the correct results increase.
- Don’t chug water before taking the test. Doing so reduces the hCG concentration, making it harder to detect whether you’re pregnant or not.
Frequently asked questions about home pregnancy tests
We have the answers.
Where can I buy a pregnancy tester?
There’s no need to worry as these kits are readily available. You can purchase one from your local drugstore, pharmacy, grocery store, or convenience store.
How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
Home pregnancy tests are pretty accurate, up to 99% of the time.
However, the level of accuracy differs significantly based on factors such as:
- The extent to which you follow the instructions.
- How early you take the test.
- The sensitivity level of the specific tester you’re using.
How long do you wait for pregnancy test results?
You will have to wait about 3 minutes to view the pregnancy results after taking a test. This provides ample time for the hCG hormone to be detected.
When is it too soon to take a pregnancy test?
Taking a pregnancy test less than a week after missing your period is too soon. As mentioned earlier, these testers work by determining the hCG levels pxresent in your urine.
For this to happen, you need to give your body ample time to build enough hCG, which can then be detected during testing. Based on this, experts recommend waiting at least seven days after sexual intercourse.
When can I take a home pregnancy test after ovulation?
This largely depends on the length of your menstrual cycle. But on average, you should wait at least 14 days after ovulation to take a pregnancy test.
Can I be pregnant after a negative test?
Yes, you can. Getting a negative result doesn’t necessarily rule out being pregnant. It could be that your body just hasn’t accumulated enough hCG levels that the tester can detect.
To avoid getting such a false negative result, don’t test too early. If you do, ensure you take a second test a couple of days or weeks later for confirmation.
Can you put blood on a home pregnancy test?
No, you can’t. Most of the home pregnancy test kits are designed to detect hCG in urine. If you’re looking to get a second opinion, you can visit your local clinic and get an actual blood test.
When can I take a home pregnancy test after IVF?
If you’re on IVF (In vitro fertilization) cycle, it’s best to wait 14 days before taking a pregnancy test. Even if the treatment is a success, it could take at least two weeks before the placenta starts producing detectable hCG levels.
Whether you’re experiencing a few signs of pregnancy or have missed your period by a few days, taking a home pregnancy test is the easiest way to confirm.
These kits work by determining the levels of hCG hormone in urine. To get the most accurate results, it’s best to delay taking the test until you’ve actually missed your period. This way, your body will have produced enough levels of hCG that the tester can detect.