Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy Tests
If I get a positive result on a home pregnancy test, does that mean I am pregnant?
A positive result from a home pregnancy test shows the presence of the hormone hCG in your system. When an egg is implanted in a womans uterine lining, hCG hormones begin to develop and multiply. This is a sign that you have become pregnant.
If I get a negative result on a home pregnancy test, does that mean I am not pregnant?
A negative result can mean that you are not pregnant, you took the test too early, or you took the test wrong. Pregnancy tests vary in their sensitivity , and you may not have given your body enough time to produce enough hCG hormones that will show up on the test.
Also, if you let a test sit for too long , the test is invalid. It is best to follow the instructions and wait until you have missed a period before taking the test. Most pregnancy tests come with two in a box, and it is a good idea to take both.
Blood Test In The First Trimester
The first trimester is the start of a wonderful journey into motherhood. You will be required to take good care of yourself and follow a healthy lifestyle. During your first antenatal checkup, your doctor will recommend certain tests to be done, which will give more insight into your pregnancy and foetus. The 10-week blood test during pregnancy are:
How Is Cvs Performed
CVS may be offered to women with an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities or who have a family history of a genetic defect that is testable from the placental tissue. CVS is usually performed between the 10th and 13th week of pregnancy. Although exact methods may vary, the procedure involves the following steps:
Your doctor will insert a small tube through your vagina and into your cervix.
Using ultrasound technology, your doctor will guide the catheter into place near the placenta.
Your doctor will remove some tissue using a syringe on the other end of the catheter.
Your doctor may also choose to perform a transabdominal CVS, which involves inserting a needle through your abdomen and into your uterus to sample the placental cells. You may feel some cramping during and after either type of CVS procedure. The tissue samples are sent to a genetic lab for growth and analysis. Results are usually available in about 10 days to two weeks, depending on the lab.
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How Much Does A Pregnancy Test Cost
Pregnancy test costs depend on the type of test performed and where you purchase it. Home pregnancy tests generally run anywhere from $8 to $15. A test from a licensed medical provider may cost a bit more, but it can also be more accurate. Plus, a professional pregnancy test comes with trained medical staff to explain the results and your options.
Urine pregnancy tests at a doctors office can vary widely in price, however. Always ask about cost before having the test done. Even with a co-pay from your insurance, you could end up spending as much as $100 or more. Your FastMed provider can usually offer the test for far less. Contact your local FastMed Urgent Care for specific pricing.
If you need a pregnancy blood test for greater accuracy or to confirm a healthy pregnancy, these usually cost about $49. The higher price is why these tests are typically reserved for more complicated pregnancies.
Second Trimester Prenatal Screening Tests
Second trimester prenatal screening may include several blood tests called multiple markers. These markers provide information about your potential risk of having a baby with certain genetic conditions or birth defects. Screening is usually done by taking a sample of your blood between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy . The multiple markers include:
AFP screening. Also called maternal serum AFP, this blood test measures the level of AFP in your blood during pregnancy. AFP is a protein normally produced by the fetal liver that is present in the fluid surrounding the fetus . It crosses the placenta and enters your blood. Abnormal levels of AFP may indicate:
A miscalculated due date, as the levels vary throughout pregnancy
Defects in the abdominal wall of the fetus
Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities
Open neural tube defects, such as spina bifida
Estriol. This is a hormone produced by the placenta. It can be measured in maternal blood or urine to be used to determine fetal health.
Inhibin. This is a hormone produced by the placenta.
Human chorionic gonadotropin. This is also a hormone produced by the placenta.
Abnormal test results of AFP and other markers may mean that additional testing is needed. An ultrasound is used to confirm the milestones of your pregnancy and to check the fetal spine and other body parts for defects. An amniocentesis may be needed for an accurate diagnosis.
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First Trimester Tests During Pregnancy
Routine tests help keep close tabs on you and your baby. Thats why its so important to keep all your prenatal appointments. Screening tests can spot potential problems early.
These tests usually include:
History and physical exam. During your first or second prenatal visit, youll answer a lot of questions about your health and family history. This information helps the doctor know whether you have any specific risks to address, such as an inherited genetic disorder. You will also have a physical exam. Your doctor will calculate your due date based on the date of your last menstrual period.
Pelvic exam and Pap smear.Prenatal testing during the first trimester begins with a pelvic exam and Pap smear to check the health of your cervical cells. This testing screens for cervical cancer and for certain sexually transmitted diseases .
Blood tests. During one of your first visits, your doctor or midwife will identify your blood type and Rh factor, screen for anemia, check for immunity to rubella , and test for hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV and other STDs.
Depending on racial, ethnic, or family background, you may be offered tests and genetic counseling to assess risks for diseases such as Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia . Testing for some of these diseases can also be done with saliva.
Be sure to discuss all of your testing options with your doctor so that together you can decide on the ones that will be best for you.
What Can Cause A False
Drugs such as antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, diuretics, anti-convulsants, anti-parkinson drugs, hypnotics, and tranquilizers may cause false-positive results.
The presence of protein in the urine , blood in the urine , or excess pituitary gonadotropin may also cause a false-positive urine hCG test.
There are reports of false-positive blood hCG results due to the presence of certain types of antibodies that some individuals produce or fragments of the hCG molecule. Generally, if results are questionable, they may be confirmed by testing with a different method.
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Other Methods For Determining Gender
Assuming you didnt do any kind of sex selection via in vitro fertilization and youre not relying on old wives tales, which we dont recommend! theres really only one non-blood test to know your babys gender: an abdominal ultrasound.
Somewhere around 14 weeks gestation, your babys genitals are developed enough to be spotted on an ultrasound.
But unless you have another reason for having an ultrasound at this point in your pregnancy, youll have to wait until your anatomy scan is scheduled. This usually happens around the 20th week of pregnancy.
Its probably better this way, anyway. In the first trimester, the accuracy of gender predictions with ultrasound is only about 75 percent, according to a 2015 study , compared with nearly 100 percent accuracy in the second and third trimesters.
And still, even though youre getting a made-for-TV movie of your babys actual body growing inside your belly during the anatomy scan, the gender results of a second trimester ultrasound should always be taken with a grain of salt
Sometimes babies dont cooperate with the timing of your appointment, and sometimes the ultrasounds are just plain misinterpreted.
What Do The Results Means
Your results will show whether you are pregnant. If you are pregnant, it’s important to see your health care provider as soon as possible. You may be referred to or may already be receiving care from an obstetrician/gynecologist or a midwife. These are providers who specialize in women’s health, prenatal care, and pregnancy. Regular health care visits during pregnancy can help ensure you and your baby stay healthy.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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What Tests Can You Get Before Pregnancy To Help You Find Out About Genetic Conditions That May Affect Your Baby
Before pregnancy, you can have carrier screening tests that check your blood or saliva to see if youre a carrier of certain genetic conditions. Genetic conditions are passed from parents to children through genes. Genes are parts of your body’s cells that store instructions for the way your body grows and works. If youre a carrier, you dont have the condition yourself, but you have a gene change for it that you can pass to your baby.
If both you and your partner are carriers of the same condition, the risk that your baby has the condition increases. Getting tested before pregnancy can help you and your partner look at your babys risk and make decisions about getting pregnant. Your partner can get tested, too. Carrier screening is your choice. You dont have to do it if you dont want to, even if your provider recommends it.
All women who are thinking about getting pregnant can get screened for:
- Cystic fibrosis . CF is a condition that affects breathing and digestion. Digestion is the way your body processes the food you eat.
- Spinal muscular atrophy . SMA is a disease that attacks nerve cells in the spinal cord. It weakens muscles and can affect movement, breathing and swallowing.
- Thalassemias. These are blood conditions that cause the body to make fewer healthy red blood cells and less hemoglobin than normal. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells.
- Hemoglobinopathies. These conditions affect red blood cells in the body.
Why Take An Hcg Test
While home pregnancy tests can be used as preliminary tests to indicate pregnancy, most healthcare providers strongly recommend that women receive an hCG test to confirm. Over-the-counter urine tests are simply not as reliable or as detailed as hCG tests. While it isn’t common, home tests can easily produce false-positive results and false-negative results. HCG tests, which use blood samples to test for hormone levels, are much more effective tools for your doctor’s office to confirm pregnancy. An hCG test can confirm a positive result in very early pregnancy, or roughly 11 days from conception.
Additionally, hCG screening tests also provide pregnant women much more information than home tests alone. Obstetricians can use the hCG levels present in your blood sample to glean valuable insights into how the pregnancy is proceeding. HCG levels peak somewhere between 8 – 11 weeks into the first trimester and then begin to fall. Unlike home tests you can get from a drugstore , an hCG blood test can provide a range of gestational age and help generate an estimated due date.
HCG tests are also helpful in assessing a variety of developmental and prenatal issues, such as testing for Down syndrome, gestational diabetes, and more. Low levels of hCG can indicate ectopic pregnancies. The hCG test may also be used for measuring hCG levels in individuals with other diseases such as tumors of the ovaries, bladder, pancreas, stomach, lungs and liver.
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How Accurate Are Blood Pregnancy Tests
The blood test for hCG is the most accurate to detect a pregnancy, says Dr. Mark Trolice.
Blood tests have a 99% accuracy rate, so they are almost always accurate. The main reason for this is that the quantitative test can detect even the smallest traces of the pregnancy hormone hCG. However, hormone levels can vary from one woman to another.
“The range of normal beta hCG levels is very wide,” says Dr. Serena Chen, a fertility expert at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, “so it’s important to have the help of your doctor to interpret test results.”
What Happens After The Test
You can go back to your usual activities right away. If you are pregnant, you will get more information from your doctor.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Pregnancy
While pregnancy symptoms may sometimes vary, the most common symptoms of a pregnancy are:
- A missed period
- Headaches and dizziness
If you are experiencing these symptoms, its important to get tested and to confirm your status as early as possible. Prenatal care can help to ensure a healthy pregnancy for both mother and baby.
Blood Tests During Pregnancy
As part of your antenatal care youll be offered several blood tests. Some are offered to all women, and some are only offered if you might be at risk of a particular infection or inherited condition.
All the tests are done to check for anything that may cause a problem during your pregnancy or after the birth, or to check that your baby is healthy, but you dont have to have them if you dont want to.
Talk to your midwife or doctor and give yourself enough time to make your decision. They should also give you written information about the tests. Below is an outline of all the tests that can be offered.
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How Soon Can I Take A Home Pregnancy Test
It is recommended that you wait until you have missed a period to take a home test. A missed period is often one of the first signs of pregnancy. If you cannot wait that long to find out and you know the day you may have conceived, then the earliest you can take a test would be 14 days from possible conception.
What If I Discharge More Than Blood
If something other than blood comes out, call your provider right away. Put the discharge in a jar or a plastic bag and bring it with you to your appointment.
Your provider will check to see if you are still pregnant. You will be closely watched with blood tests to see if you are still pregnant.
If you are no longer pregnant, you may need more care from your provider, such as medicine or possibly surgery.
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What Are Screening Tests And Diagnostic Tests
Screening tests check to see if your baby is more likely to have a health condition, but they dont tell you for sure whether your baby has a condition.
Diagnostic tests tell you whether your baby has a health condition. If a screening test shows your baby is at high risk of a health condition, your provider may recommend a diagnostic test to confirm the results. Some diagnostic tests may have some risks for your baby, such as miscarriage. Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Screening test results can help you decide whether you want to have a diagnostic test. You may or may not want to know whether your baby has a health condition. If you decide to have a diagnostic test, you can learn more about your babys condition and how to care for your baby after hes born. You also can make plans to give birth in a hospital that can give your baby special medical care.
What Is Being Tested
Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone produced by the placenta of a pregnant woman. Early in pregnancy, the level of hCG increases in the blood and is eliminated in the urine. A pregnancy test detects hCG in the blood or urine and confirms or rules out pregnancy.
During the early weeks of pregnancy, hCG is important in maintaining function of the corpus luteum. Production of hCG increases steadily during the first trimester of a normal pregnancy, peaking around the 10th week after the last menstrual cycle. Levels then fall slowly during the remainder of the pregnancy. hCG is no longer detectable within a few weeks after delivery.
When a pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus , the level of hCG in the blood increases at a slower rate. When an ectopic pregnancy is suspected, measuring the level of hCG in the blood over time may be useful in helping to make a diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy.
Similarly, the hCG blood level may be abnormal when the developing baby has a chromosome defect such as Down syndrome. An hCG test is used routinely in conjunction with a few other tests as part of screening for fetal abnormalities between 11 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.
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How Is An Ultrasound Scan Performed
Two types of ultrasounds can be performed during pregnancy:
Abdominal ultrasound. In an abdominal ultrasound, gel is applied to your abdomen. The ultrasound transducer glides over the gel on the abdomen to create the image.
Transvaginal ultrasound. In a transvaginal ultrasound, a smaller ultrasound transducer is inserted into your vagina and rests against the back of the vagina to create an image. A transvaginal ultrasound produces a sharper image than an abdominal ultrasound and is often used in early pregnancy.