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Testing for Pregnancy

If you think you might be pregnant you should do a pregnancy test to be sure. If you think you might be pregnant you should do a pregnancy test to be sure. 

There are two main types of pregnancy test – a blood test and a urine test. Pregnancy tests measure how much pregnancy hormone is in your blood or urine. They are usually pretty accurate, but sometimes the results will be wrong, you should always double check with your doctor to be sure.

Home Pregnancy Test

You can buy a home pregnancy test from the chemist or the supermarket. If you do the test too soon after you missed your period you might get an inaccurate result, so make sure you read the packet and wait the right amount of days before performing the test. (It’s usually around one or two weeks after your period was due.)

Home pregnancy tests are generally pretty simple, you will either have to urinate in a small container and dip a test strip into the urine, or urinate directly onto the test strip. Follow the directions on the pack to make sure you get accurate results. It is best to test your urine first thing in the morning when your urine is more concentrated and will have higher levels of pregnancy hormones if you are pregnant.

It usually only takes a couple of minutes for results to show up, most tests will show either a coloured line or dot if you are pregnant- but check the instructions so you know what your exact brand of test will show. Home pregnancy tests usually come with a second test strip, so you can test again in a few days to double check the results.

If you’re pregnancy test comes back positive visit a family planning clinic or your doctor to confirm and to discuss what to do next. You can also check out our post on the different options you can make here.

If you have missed a period and you’re not sure why, you can go to a family planning clinic or your doctor for help and advice and to work out why. Other causes of missed periods include:

  • emotional stress
  • severe weight loss
  • severe dieting and exercise
  • obesity
  • some drugs
False Positive Results

Although home pregnancy tests are usually pretty accurate, sometimes other factors can cause them to be wrong, and tell you that you are pregnant when you’re not.
Some things that may give you a false positive result include:

  • a faulty test kit
  • using a dirty collecting cup. (sometimes things like left over detergent can cause a false positive)
  • Some medications (including anti-convulsants, some fertility drugs, diuretics (fluid pills) and tranquillisers)
  • blood in your urine (like from a Urinary Tract Infection or UTI)
  • protein in your urine (like from kidney damage)
  • an ovarian tumor

Sometimes a false positive result can be a sign of another health issue, this is why it’s always good to double check with a family planning clinic or doctor if you get a positive result.

False Negative Results

You can also sometimes get a false negative test result, meaning you are pregnant but the test says you aren’t.
Some things that may give you a false negative result include:

  • doing the test to early after your missed period
  • using the test incorrectly- always follow the instructions
  • drinking lots of fluids before taking the test (if your urine is too diluted the test won’t be able to pick up the pregnancy hormones)
  • not leaving enough time for the results to appear- always wait the amount of time the instructions tell you

If you get a negative result, but you still think you might be pregnant, make an appointment at a family planning clinic, or with your doctor.

Pregnancy Testing at the Doctor

Your doctor can perform two different types of pregnancy test, a blood test or a urine test. The urine test is very similar to a home pregnancy test, they will get you to urinate into a container and then dip a test strip in it.

If your doctor performs a blood test, they will draw some blood from your arm and send it away to a laboratory to be tested. The results will usually take a few days and your doctor will either have you make another appointment to tell you the results or call you with the results. A blood test is usually more accurate than a urine test, so if you have a positive test at home it would be a good idea to ask for a blood test from your doctor to confirm.

Where to get help

If you are pregnant and you weren’t expecting it, that’s ok, you have options. Lots of women fall pregnant unexpectedly and there are places you can go to help you figure out what to do next. You can find your closest family planning clinic here.