The Real Deal on Home Pregnancy Tests
Four days may not seem like a lot of time to some people, but to a woman who is wondering if she is pregnant or not, it can be an eternity. Whether a woman has been trying to conceive and wants to know if her efforts have paid off, or has been trying to avoid pregnancy and needs to know if her plans failed, the sooner the information is available, the better.
Since the release of the first home pregnancy tests in 1977, makers have continued to develop tests that provide results sooner and with better accuracy. Currently on the market, the First Response® Early Result Pregnancy Test claims to be able to provide results as early as four days before a woman expects her period. The question is, does it actually work? The answer is yes – for some.
All home pregnancy tests function on the same principle. They detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that is produced only in pregnant women. A test that is able to detect lower levels of hCG is able to confirm pregnancy sooner than one that only picks up on higher levels. But there’s a hitch. The production of hCG does not begin at conception, but rather after implantation, which can take place anywhere from six to fourteen days later. This means that a woman may be pregnant, but if hCG is not being produced yet, she will get a negative result, even with the most sensitive test.
So what type of test produces the best, most reliable results? When it comes to sensitivity, the First Response® Early Result Pregnancy Test has received good reviews from the likes of Consumer Reports and the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. To improve ease of use, Clearblue® Easy offers a test that has a digital readout which will say either “pregnant” or “not pregnant” instead of those occasionally ambiguous lines. If cost is an issue, there are several store brands that are modeled on the same design as their national competitors. In the end, it is mostly a matter of preference.
More important than selecting a brand is checking the expiration date. Tests are only valid for a limited amount of time, and an expired test may give a false result or not work at all. It is also crucial to read the instructions thoroughly and follow them carefully. If the kit is not expired, the instructions for the test are followed carefully, and the woman is not taking certain fertility medications or recovering from a recent miscarriage, then a positive result is reliable. A negative result, on the other hand, is much less trustworthy. Any number of factors can contribute to a false negative, which is why women are advised to wait a few days and test again after receiving a negative result. In the meantime, it is best to play it safe and act as if the test were positive by eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
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