How can you test for pregnancy?

The information on this page is intended as a helpful guide only. Always seek out professional medical advice about your specific health situation.

How do you know if you are pregnant?

Pregnancy tests measure how much pregnancy hormone is in your blood or urine. There are two main types of pregnancy tests: blood test or urine test. 

  • Urine test: also known as a home pregnancy test, involves weeing on a strip or dipping the strip in your urine and waiting for the results. You can do this test at home, or at the doctor. You should have a result in about 3 minutes. Every home pregnancy test is a little different, so read the instructions carefully before you start.
  • Blood test: these can only be completed at a medical centre. Blood test results are far more accurate. To do a blood test, you will need to see a doctor. They will refer you to a blood testing facility where medical staff will extract a small amount of blood from your arm. Your blood sample will be sent away to a lab for examination. You’ll get the results in a few days, either over the phone or at your next appointment with your doctor.

If you suspect you are pregnant, see a doctor and get a blood test to be sure.

Where can I buy a home pregnancy test kit?

You can buy a home pregnancy test from the chemist or supermarket. Make sure to read the instructions very carefully — if steps aren’t followed correctly, your result won’t be accurate. 

Note: if you do a home pregnancy test too soon after you missed your period, you might get an inaccurate result. Follow the instructions and make sure to wait the right amount of days before performing the test. It’s usually around one or two weeks after your period is due.

How do home pregnancy tests work?
  • You’ll need to urinate into a small container and dip the pregnancy testing strip into the urine, or urinate directly onto the test strip.
  • It’s best to test first thing in the morning. This way your urine is more concentrated and will have higher levels of pregnancy hormones.
  • 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. Read the instructions carefully to understand the result.
  • Home pregnancy tests usually come with a second test strip, so you can test again in a few days and double check.
What should I do if the test is positive?

If your pregnancy test comes back positive, there’s a strong possibility that you are pregnant. Make an appointment to visit a Sexual Health Clinic (sometimes called a Family Planning Clinic) or see your doctor to confirm. 

They will conduct a blood test to confirm the result. Once confirmed, you can talk with your healthcare provider about what you would like to do next (become a parent, have an abortion, or explore adoption). 

What to do if the result is negative

If your pregnancy test comes back negative, there’s a strong possibility that you are not pregnant. Make an appointment to visit a Sexual Health Clinic or see your doctor to confirm. 

They will conduct a blood test to double check the result. If you missed a period and you’re not pregnant, there may be some other underlying health issue that needs investigating. 

I’ve missed a period but I’m not pregnant. What else could be the cause?
  • Emotional distress
  • Severe weight loss or gain in a short amount of time
  • Extreme dieting and/or exercise
  • Drugs or other medications
How do I know if the test result is accurate?

There are a number of factors that could cause an inaccurate result, such as:

  • Faulty test kit
  • Testing using a dirty cup or vessel (sometimes things like dishwashing detergent can cause a false positive)
  • Medications (including anti-convulsants, some fertility drugs, diuretics, and tranquillisers)
  • Blood in your urine (like from a Urinary Tract Infection)
  • Protein in your urine (like from kidney damage)
  • An ovarian tumour

Sometimes a false-positive result can be a sign of another health issue. Get in touch with your family planning clinic or doctor to make sure your health is in check.

Is it possible to get a false-negative result?

It is possible to get a false negative test result, meaning you are pregnant but the test says you aren’t. Reasons for a false-negative result may include:

  • doing the test too soon after your missed period
  • using the home pregnancy test incorrectly (always follow the instructions carefully)
  • 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 to visit a Sexual Health Clinic or see your doctor. 

Where to get help

If you are pregnant and you weren’t expecting it, that’s ok, you have options. Lots of people fall pregnant unexpectedly and there are places you can go to help you figure out what to do next. 

  • For medical support, see your doctor or head to your local Sexual Health Clinic for free and confidential advice. Follow the links below to find one near you.
Sexual Health Clinics across Australia

New South Wales
Northern Territory
South Australia
Western Australia

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