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#GirlTalk: Everything You Need To Know About Home Pregnancy Tests


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If you’re a sexually active woman, the possibility of pregnancy is something that you almost certainly think about every month. Whether you’re planning a baby with your partner, or are concerned about an unplanned one, if your period doesn’t arrive on time, you probably spend at least a few anxious days wondering what’s happening. Save yourself the worry, and just take the test at home. Yes, we’re serious! It’s so simple and effective, after all. From how does it work to where you can buy one, from how expensive it is to when is the best time to take it - here’s everything you need to know about home pregnancy tests.

1. What exactly is a home pregnancy test?

It’s a strip, actually, which tests for the presence of hCG in your urine. Human chorionic gonadotropin (yes, it’s a mouthful - hCG is so much simpler!) is a hormone that’s released in your body if you are pregnant, shortly after conception occurs, and is present in your urine. An hCG test strip will tell you whether your body is secreting the hormone or not.

2. Test my urine? Eww, gross! Why would I do that?

Simply because it’s super-easy and convenient. Not only is it non-invasive (the only other reliable and medically viable test for pregnancy is a blood test, ouch), but it’s also entirely private, and therefore confidential. Even though a blood test can detect pregnancy sooner than an hCG strip, you don’t need to sign in at a path lab a doctor or wait a few days for the result - all you have to do is get hold of the test, and lock yourself in the loo. You don’t need to tell anyone, not even your family or your doctor, until you’re ready to talk about it.

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3. Okay, fine. But how does it work?!

The presence of hCG in your system can be detected as early as 6 days after fertilization, and its volume is doubled every 2 or 3 days after that. The test strip contains an anti-hCG globulin (a kind of protein), which reacts with the hCG in your urine to give you a positive result. If you are not pregnant (so no hCG), the globulin will remain non-reactive, and give you a negative result.

4. Hmm. What does is it look like?

It’s a tiny little kit that comes equipped with two things: the test strip (cased in a plastic container, with a little cutout section where you see the results), and an instruction leaflet. Sometimes, you might have a dropper (kind of like the ones you used in school to fill ink into a fountain pen) - we’ll explain why just in a bit. The package is approximately the size of a small wallet, something you can definitely tuck away into your purse, or even slip into your pocket if you have capacious ones. :-)

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5. So how exactly do I use it?

Well, get yourself a (disposable!) cup, and, uh, let go. It’s kinda awkward, but manageable. Once it’s filled, either dip the strip in it, or use the dropper (we prefer that option, personally speaking) to squeeze a few drops onto the strip. Depending on the brand you’re using, the leaflet will tell you exactly what you need to do. Another option is to pee directly on the strip, but that’s kind of cumbersome and you risk dropping the strip into the pot!

6. Yuck. What do I do now?

Now you wait. Approximately 5 minutes (or a little longer, depending on what the leaflet advises). Read something in the meantime - these are potentially the most excruciating minutes we have to endure! (No, sneaking peeks at the test isn’t going to make the result appear sooner.) Once time is up, look at the test. If the result is positive, you’ll either see a pink line, or 2 lines on the strip - this, again, depends on the brand, so read that leaflet carefully! (Once you’re done, just gather everything up in a garbage bag, seal it and dispose of it with your trash.)

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7. Is it 100% accurate? I’ve heard about false positives and stuff…

An hCG strip is said to be accurate 97% of the time. But you CAN get a false positive because of other hormonal stuff going on in your body, so it’s best to reconfirm with another test in 2 or 3 days, followed by a blood test and a consultation with a gynaecologist. You can also get a negative result if you’re taking the test too early in your pregnancy (less than 6 days since fertilization) and your hCG levels are undetectable. So a second test after a couple of days is a good idea again. (P.S.: Always check the expiry date on the packaging - once it’s past the date, the result is NOT reliable, no matter what it is. You need to re-test!)

8. So when should I use it for best results?

Normally, if your menstrual cycle is regular and follows the usual 28-day pattern, your fertile period is from about day 5 of your cycle, and ovulation occurs between days 12 and 14 - that’s when fertilization occurs as well. Add in 6 days for hCG to be produced in significant quantities, and around day 20 of your cycle is a good bet. Alternatively, a week after your missed period or 20 days from when you had sex is a safe bet. Don’t leave it any later than that, though, because you probably want to find out as early as possible.

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9. Is there any particular time of day I should take the test?

As with all urine tests, morning is the best time for greatest accuracy since hormones and other stuff your body secretes is most concentrated in your urine. (Water and other fluids you consume through the day dilutes the concentration.) But since it’s a hormone that’s being tested for, there’s no wrong time of the day for it either.

10. So where and how do I get hold of a test kit?

Testing for pregnancy is entirely legal in India, and you don’t need a prescription for it either. Every chemist stocks them, and all you have to do is walk into a pharmacy and buy one. You can get them at departmental stores too. But we know how awkward purchasing it can be, even if it’s not your local chemist - you can also order it online and have it delivered anywhere you want.

11. Is it safe to use the test by myself? And how expensive is it?

Yes, it is COMPLETELY safe! After all, the only thing you have to do is pee. Almost all available tests are reliable ones, given that they did have to pass regulations to make it to the market! Prega News, GoodNews and i-can are some of the most popular brands out there - the last two also come in multi-packs, so they’re good bets if you want to re-test in a couple of days. And they’re not expensive at all - the average price for a test is about Rs 50 only!

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Safe, easy, affordable and - most importantly - private! No reason to worry when you can simply take the test and put your mind at peace. :-)

Images: Shutterstock

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