woman holding a pregnancy test

Pregnancy tests are available at drug stores, pharmacies, and groceries stores and are relatively inexpensive. This makes at-home pregnancy tests the likely first sign you’ll have that you are pregnant.

Why do we pee on a stick?

When used properly, they are 99% effective at confirming pregnancy. They are just as effective as pregnancy tests used at doctor’s offices. So how do these tests work exactly? Pregnancy tests analyze your urine for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG. This hormone is only present in the body when a fertilized egg has attached to your uterine lining. Pretty cool if you ask me. In order for the test to analyze your urine, you have to pee on the test. Most people refer to this part as peeing on a stick because the pregnancy test is shaped kind of like a stick. 

How to check your results

New tests work best, as an expired test or one in a box that has been opened and sitting for a while might not be as accurate. After you purchase the test, read the directions. You’ll pee on the test paper at the end of the stick, wait the amount of time the test advises, then read your result on a small screen on the test. Depending on the test, it will display the results differently, so again, make sure you read the directions for the specific test you bought. A positive result might be indicated by a plus sign, the word “pregnant,” or two vertical lines next to each other. You can take multiple tests to confirm your result if needed. 

When should you take a pregnancy test?

It’s recommended that you take the pregnancy test after your last missed period for the most accurate result. If you have irregular periods and that isn’t a good indication of your cycle, then you can take the test three weeks after unprotected sex for a similar accurate result. It’s also recommended to not drink excess fluids right before taking the test, as this can dilute the amount of HCG in your system. Taking the test first thing in the morning provides a more accurate result as well. 

What if you get a positive result?

If you take the test and receive a positive result, make an appointment with your doctor so they can confirm the pregnancy, and talk about your health and options moving forward. Your doctor may also do a blood test to confirm your result. Blood tests are slightly more accurate, as they can detect HCG a little earlier than the urine test can. The urine test at home is very accurate though, so this is a great option whenever you need a test. Whether you need to take a pregnancy test before a surgery or procedure, if you suspect you’re pregnant, or if you are actively trying to conceive, the at-home pregnancy test is simple, very effective, and inexpensive. It’s a great option for monitoring your reproductive health. 

As I mentioned, if you do test positive, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible to discuss your next steps. If you do not have a healthcare provider, Planned Parenthood is a great place for reproductive care as well. 

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