Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone the female body produces during pregnancy because it is released when a fertilized egg comes in contact with the lining of the uterus.
Comprehensive pregnancy testing is not just for the purpose of determining whether or not a woman is pregnant. At Progressive Women’s Health, the testing involves pregnancy diagnosis, management of first trimester pregnancy complications – D & C, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriages, etc.
Symptoms of Pregnancy
The early symptoms of pregnancy are:
- Frequent exhaustion
- Unusually frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- A missed period
- Sensitive, swollen breasts
These symptoms may be indications of something else like stress, ovulation, etc. It is, therefore, best to carry out a pregnancy test and visit a medical professional for further testing, examination and advice.
Types of Pregnancy Tests
Home Pregnancy Test (HPT): It is done with a pregnancy test strip (stick) and can be taken on the first day after a missed period. The woman drops some of her urine on the designated area and waits anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes.
It works by detecting the hCG hormone in the urine. Usually, a change in the color of the chemical in the stick or a line, means a positive result. It is recommended that this test be taken twice, on different days.
Blood Test: It is taken in a designated part of the hospital. There are two types of this test, a Qualitative HCG blood test and a Quantitative hCG blood test.
The former checks whether or not the body is producing the hCG or not and provides a “YES” or “NO” answer.
The latter, however, checks the hCG levels in the blood. If it is too low or too high depending on how far gone the pregnant woman is, the doctor may order further tests or a repeat of the blood test after a few days.
Blood tests are more accurate than urine tests and more expensive than HPTs, however, it takes longer to get results.
Clinical Urine Test: It is taken in a hospital. Usually, the results are ready within a week of taking the test but this depends on the medical facility involved.
It is not that this will produce a more accurate result than the HPT, it is just that being a professional, a doctor may be able to eliminate any factors that may affect the test or its results.
This is a situation where the test result comes out negative when indeed the person is positive or positive when the woman is not pregnant.
The first instance, a false negative, usually occurs when the test is taken too early. For instance, the day after sexual intercourse. It is best to wait to miss one’s period before taking a pregnancy test.
The second instance is also called a false positive. It can occur for a variety of reasons:
- Chemical pregnancy: A situation where the pregnancy terminates just after the egg attaches to the lining of the uterus.
- Ectopic pregnancy: Where the fetus grows outside the womb.
- Ovarian conditions: For example, ovarian cysts.
- Menopause: During menopause, HCG is produced and this could give a positive pregnancy test result.
Options Available to Pregnant Women
Adoption, abortion, keeping the baby, etc. These are serious decisions that should be discussed with a health professional. Visit PWH for pregnancy testing management and care.