While the above question might seem quite obvious, it’s not. Granted, many people have an idea of what a pregnancy test is but a few understand how the test is done. Having said that, let’s get to the meat and potato of this particular article. What is a pregnancy test? To effectively answer this question, it is important we look at it from a scientific or medical perspective.
A pregnancy test puts a number of things into consideration – the HCG levels in the body being the major one. This hormone is produced when you get pregnant. It is visible under a microscope in urine and blood samples of an expectant mother. It can be viewed as early as 10 days after you have conceived.
How a Pregnancy Test Is Performed
As stated earlier, a pregnancy test can be determined in two ways. The two ways calls for the use of blood or urine samples. For blood pregnancy test, there are two types that are used (qualitative and quantitative). In the qualitative test, the presence of HCG is determined. On the other hand, the quantitative test deals with checking the level and the amount of HCG present in the blood to determine whether you are pregnant or not.
The blood test is carried using blood drawn in a single tube of blood. The drawn blood is sent to the lab to be analyzed under a microscope for the presence of HCG. The results are usually ready within a few minutes or after some hours.
Urine testing does not entail so much. HCG test on urine is performed by placing a single drop of urine on prepared chemical slides. This takes at most two minutes and it is the most commonly used method of testing pregnancy. Using the two methods, discomfort may arise when blood is being drawn using a needle and may last only for a few seconds. Urine sample involves the normal urination into a medical cup or bottle.
Why Is a Pregnancy Test Performed?
The main reason of conducting a pregnancy test is to determine whether you have conceived or not. The most important part of testing is to determine if there are signs of abnormality that can rise or lower the HCG levels. It is also performed to follow the development of the pregnancy especially in the first trimester. At the time of testing, normal results are determined by a steady rise of HCG levels during the first quarter of the pregnancy and thereafter a minor decline.
Indications of abnormal pregnancy test
In a normal pregnancy, HCG doubles after every two days in the first trimester of the pregnancy. Low rising HCG is a clear indication of a problem with the pregnancy. The problems associated with high or low rising of the HCG level comprises of miscarriages and tubal or ectopic pregnancy.
Exceptionally high levels of the HCG may be a clear suggestion of more than one fetus, twins for example, or a molar pregnancy. The right person to understand the significance of your HCG levels is your medical consultant. The medical practitioner is entitled to discussing the levels of HCG with you.
What to consider
Chances of determining pregnancy at early stages especially using the urine test method are minimal particularly if HCG levels in your blood are not sufficient. When you suspect you are pregnant, undergo the test several times!