Home pregnancy test kits work by detecting the presence of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in a woman's urine. hCG, known as the pregnancy hormone, is only found in pregnant women. Some pregnancy tests can be obtained at most pharmacies and online. Read this step-by-step guide to using a home pregnancy test below.
Method 1 of 2: Before Taking the Test
Step 1. Purchase a pregnancy test kit
There are many brands of pregnancy test kits that you can find. But actually the brand you choose will not have much effect. All pregnancy tests work the same way - by detecting the level of the hormone hCG in your urine. When buying a pregnancy test, pay attention to the expiration date on the box and make sure that the box is intact, without any blemishes or tears, as this could affect your test results. Consider choosing a brand that gives you two test kits in one box, especially if you're going to be testing as soon as possible. That way, you can wait a week to re-test, if the first time you get a negative result.
- Some experts recommend buying a pregnancy test from a large store that has a high turnover of goods in and out, so you are more likely to get a newer pregnancy test. Similarly, if you have a pregnancy test kit that has been unused for several months at home, it is best to throw it away and buy a new one, especially if you have stored it in a warm and humid place, as this could affect your test results..
- Some brands claim that their devices can accurately detect pregnancy on the first day of your period, or even sooner. While it's true that pregnancy tests can be very sensitive to detecting higher levels of hCG in your urine, it may be too early for your body to actually produce higher levels of hCG. In this case, you run the risk of getting a negative result, even if you are actually pregnant.
- Many generic pregnancy tests are actually manufactured in the same factory as well-known brands, and use the same technology. So don't doubt the quality of generic brands if you want to save a little.
Step 2. Estimate when you want to do the test
Most experts think you should at least wait until a day after your missed period before using a pregnancy test, however, waiting one week is considered best. Waiting may be difficult to do if you are very curious about your pregnancy, but waiting can provide a higher level of accuracy when you are doing the test, because hCG levels increase very quickly in pregnant women.
- hCG is formed in a woman's body only after a fertilized egg attaches to her uterus. Attachment of the fertilized egg usually occurs around the sixth day after the sperm joins the egg. This is why a home pregnancy test may not detect hCG if you test too early, even if you are pregnant.
- It is best to take the test in the morning as soon as you wake up, when your urine contains hCG at the highest level.
Step 3. Read the instructions for use carefully
While most pregnancy test kits look the same, it's important to follow the instructions on the box. Certain things may vary slightly from brand to brand, such as the way the urine is collected, the time it takes to drip urine on the test kit and for the symbols used to indicate whether you are pregnant or not.
- It's best if you already understand the symbols used beforehand, so you won't be frantically searching for clues once the results are out.
- The test kit box should contain a toll-free phone number you can call if you have questions about the method for performing the test or about the product itself.
Step 4. Prepare yourself
Taking a pregnancy test yourself at home can be a stressful experience, especially if you really expect certain results. Do this test yourself and give yourself as much time as you need, or have your partner or close friend wait behind the bathroom door to accompany you. Wash your hands with warm water and soap, then carefully remove the test stick from its packaging.
Method 2 of 2: While Doing the Test
Step 1. Ready, ready, do
Sit on the toilet and pass your urine, either directly on the test kit or into a collection device, depending on your test kit. You should try to use a center sample, this means you have to pass a small portion of your urine first, before collecting the sample in a container or placing the test stick.
- If you need to drip urine directly on the test stick, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. In some test kits, you need to drip urine for a certain time, for example 5 seconds, no less and no more. Use a stop watch to help you, if necessary.
- When dripping urine directly on the stick, be sure to place the absorbent end in the urine stream and rotate it so that the part showing the result is pointing up.
Step 2. Use the dropper to place a small amount of urine on the test stick
This is only required in methods that use a plastic container. In some brands, the test stick must be dipped in the urine that has been collected. Leave it on for 5 to 10 seconds, or as directed on the package.
Step 3. Wait for the recommended time
Place the test stick on a clean, flat surface with the side showing the result pointing up. The waiting time required is usually between 1 and 5 minutes, although certain tests may take up to 10 minutes to provide accurate results. See the instructions for the time required for each test kit.
- Try not to keep looking at the stick while you're waiting, it's going to take longer and you'll panic more. Do something to distract yourself, like make tea or stretch.
- Some test sticks have symbols or lines to indicate that the test kit is still working. If your test stick should have this kind of symbol but doesn't see anything, then it's likely that your test isn't working properly and you'll need to use a new one.
Step 4. Check the result
After the time stated in the instructions has elapsed, check the test stick for results. The symbols used to indicate that you are pregnant don't vary much from one test to another, so read the instructions again if you're not sure. Most home pregnancy tests have something like a plus or minus sign, a certain color change, or the words "pregnant" and "not pregnant" appear on the digital screen.
- Sometimes, the visible symbol or line will be very faint. If this is the case you should conclude that you are pregnant, as this indicates that hCG is in your urine. False positives are very rare in home pregnancy test kits.
If the result is positive:
You should make an appointment with your doctor to confirm your pregnancy. This is usually done with a blood test.
If the result is negative:
Wait another week and if you haven't had your period yet, retest. False-negative results sometimes occur, especially if you miscalculated your ovulation time and took the test too early. This is why many home pregnancy test kits provide two sticks. If the second test is also negative, get yourself checked for other issues that are interfering with your menstrual cycle or causing pregnancy symptoms.
Avoid drinking heavily before using a home pregnancy test as this can dilute your urine and cause a false negative result
- Late periods, weight gain, nausea, and other symptoms often associated with pregnancy can be symptoms of another serious medical condition that requires treatment. Do not ignore these symptoms based on the results obtained from home tests. Contact a healthcare professional.
- Although rare, false positive results do occur from time to time. You may have a chemical pregnancy (when the egg has been fertilized but does not develop), if you are taking medications containing hCG, or if you are using a device that is damaged or expired.