What Are At-Home Pregnancy Tests?
An at-home pregnancy test is a test that detects pregnancy. The test is often referred to as an early pregnancy test (EPT) and looks for signs of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone, the pregnancy hormone. The body produces this hormone when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. Traces of the hormone is found in urine and blood. With at-home tests, patients dip a test strip or dipstick into urine or place droplets of urine into the collection well of a digital device.
Urine-based test vs blood test
The main difference between both tests is the level of accuracy. Typically, urine-based tests are qualitative while blood tests are quantitative. Qualitative tests detect the presence of the hormone. Quantitative tests detect the actual amounts and levels of the hormone. To perform these blood tests, doctors take a sample of blood from the body, in most cases the arm, and sends the sample to a lab for testing. Blood tests can detect the smallest amounts of hCG before a missed period. To use a urine-based test, patients need to miss a period first.
Fertility medications and with pregnancy results
Some fertility medications used during IVF cycles contain synthetic hCG. This can trigger a false-positive pregnancy test. Other fertility drugs contain the hormone human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG), which helps with ovulation. These drugs can also trigger a false-positive because the hMG hormone is similar to hCG.
Using an EPT with fertility meds
Women taking fertility medications can still use an at-home pregnancy test since these tests are 99% accurate, but patients should also get a blood test done by a doctor. Blood tests tell health professionals advanced information like the presence of more than one fetus, infections, ectopic pregnancies, or tumors.
What is a false-negative result?
Sometimes these tests show a negative result when the person is actually pregnant. A false negative can happen if the test is expired, urine is diluted by too many fluids, from taking antihistamines, or if used before a missed period. Typically, women should wait up to a week after a missed period to take an at-home test.
Learning more about EPT
Patients interested in learning more about urine and blood pregnancy tests should consult with a doctor. A medical professional can educate patients about at-home pregnancy tests and schedule a blood test if needed.