The quest for quality health in women (and the children they nurture) is so critical, particularly their reproductive health. As home makers and child-bearers so much needed by their families to survive the hassles of day-to-day living, the care women receive before, during and after pregnancy – including pregnancy tests – go a long way to guarantee such. It has also been medically established that women are far more exposed to possible infections and health issues than men for two reasons.
Firstly, women have a much larger surface area than men (the female reproductive system is partly responsible for this); and secondly because women’s bodies are buffeted by so many more hormones than men, in preparation for pregnancy – which can take a serious toll on a woman’s health. That aside, there are a number of reasons why a pregnancy test may be necessary, so here in this article we will discuss how to properly do a pregnancy test with a pregnancy test kit or strip. This information will be quite useful for all women and ladies of child-bearing age.
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What is a Pregnancy Test?
A pregnancy test is a procedure used to find out whether a woman is pregnant or not. These tests primarily check for the presence of hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin) – a hormone produced by the cells of the placenta as it forms to receive and implant the new embryo after fertilization. This hCG can be found in both the bloodstream and in urine, but in much higher levels in the bloodstream. Concentrations of hCG in the body continue to increase rapidly from the first day of conception, roughly doubling every few days till it reaches its highest concentration around 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy. The hormone can easily be detected within the first 6 to 10 days of pregnancy depending on the sensitivity of the test kit. There are generally three major methods of performing pregnancy tests:
- Urine tests carried out at home or at a medical care center
- Blood tests carried out at a medical care center
- Ultrasound scan done at a medical care center
These tests can now be easily carried out at home with a pregnancy test strip or kit, which can be bought cheaply and easily at local pharmacies and stores (or in clinics). Though the exact methods of using each of the different brands of test kits may slightly vary, most of the reliable brands return a test result of between 95% and 99% accuracy within 10 minutes or less (whether positive or negative) if the instructions are carefully followed. A positive result shows that the woman is pregnant; while a negative result indicates no pregnancy (or there is a problem with the pregnancy). And the test kits are also quite inexpensive, making it easier to carry out more than one pregnancy test to be sure of the results (this is recommended).
When you should carry out a Pregnancy Test
Firstly, a woman who has been engaging in sexual relations is advised to take a pregnancy test (even if she has been using a birth control method) once she notices the following symptoms:
- Missed period
- Nausea and/or dizziness
- A heightened sense of smell
- Tenderness of the breasts
- Abnormal taste for some foods, otherwise an aversion for certain foods
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A pregnancy test may also be necessary to check for:
- abnormal cases of pregnancy (such as miscarriage, a poorly developing foetus, foetus without a heartbeat, ectopic or outside-the-womb pregnancy)
- the success of a clinical /medical abortion
- the effectiveness of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) trials.
- problems or issues with your birth control method
- taking medications or any medical procedure that would have a serious effect on pregnancy
Precautions to ensure greater accuracy of a home pregnancy test
Before a woman performs a home pregnancy test, she should follow these simple rules:
- The pregnancy test strip or kit must not have expired. Check the expiry date to confirm before buying.
- Avoid drinking excess fluids (such as water or other such fluids) before taking the pregnancy test, otherwise the fluid will dilute the hCG and may render it difficult to detect.
- Best time to do this test is with your first morning pee for the day (when the hCG will be most concentrated in your urine). If you miss the first morning urine, wait till your bladder is full for at least 3 hours.
- Read and follow the instructions that come with the test kit package carefully for best results.
How to use a pregnancy test strip at home
As we said earlier, some pregnancy test kits or strips are more sensitive in detecting pregnancy than others, even as early as within the first 6 to 10 days of conception. But in order to ensure higher test accuracy, the woman is advised to rather wait till she misses her period (that should be roughly 14 days following conception) when her hCG levels will be noticeably high enough to detect. (On the other hand, the test result would be even more accurate if it were a blood test, because a blood test can detect the exact levels of hCG in the blood – although it is more expensive). That said, the woman can proceed to use the test kit or strip in any of three ways:
- Place the pregnancy test kit or strip in the urine stream as she pees directly
- Put some of the fresh urine in a clean container and dip the test strip or kit inside the urine
- Place the fresh urine inside a clean container, and put some drops of the urine on the test kit or strip.
However, the strip/kit should not be flooded with too much urine to avoid false results.
You should get the results of the pregnancy test typically within a few minutes, usually between 3 to 10 minutes – read the instructions on the test strip/kit package to check how many minutes you should wait. And you are advised not to wait longer than this period, otherwise the urine could dry up or show some other result that would mess up the outcome.
The test strip or kit may show double straight lines, a cross, or the word ‘pregnant’ on its control window (you should see the meaning of each indicator in the instruction manual) if the test returns positive. To be surer, the test can be carried out again in another two days; or otherwise the woman should visit a health care provider to confirm.
Finally, here are some recommended brands of reliable pregnancy test strips/kits you can buy in Nigeria:
- Predicte Pregnancy Test Kit
- Agary Pregnancy Test Strips
- Clearblue Plus Pregnancy Test Kit
- P-TEST Pregnancy Test Strip
- Clear & Simple Pregnancy Test Strips
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