Pregnancy tests are widely available at a variety of health care facilities, drug stores, and some grocery stores. They may be low-cost or free at some locations, including health departments or free clinics. Beware that anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” often offer free pregnancy testing, but these centers are fake clinics masquerading as legitimate health care facilities. When used according to the directions, pregnancy tests are 97-99% accurate starting on the first day after a woman misses her period. Always check the expiration date of a home pregnancy test before you use it – if it is past the expiration date, it may not be accurate.
There is a hormone that is present in your urine and blood only when you are pregnant. This hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (also called the pregnancy hormone) is what all pregnancy tests detect.
There Are Two Kinds of Pregnancy Tests:
- Urine tests detect the pregnancy hormone in your urine.
- Blood tests, which can only be administered in a doctor’s office or clinic, detect the pregnancy hormone in your blood.
Health Care Providers Offer Three Different Kinds of Tests:
- A urine test is the test most frequently used both as a home pregnancy test and in a health care setting.
- A qualitative hCG blood test (also known as a qualitative beta hCG test) tests whether or not you have the pregnancy hormone in your blood. It is similar to a urine test in that it tells you if you are pregnant or not.
- A quantitative blood test (also known as a quantitative beta hCG test) measures how much of the pregnancy hormone is in your blood.
Home Pregnancy Tests Have Some Advantages:
- They are easy to use
- They are inexpensive
- They can be performed in the privacy of your own home
If you take a home pregnancy test very early in your pregnancy, there may not be enough of the pregnancy hormone in your urine to trigger a positive test result. If you think you are pregnant and your home pregnancy test comes back negative, try it again in a few days. If you continue to have negative tests but you think you are pregnant, or if you take a home pregnancy test and it comes back positive, you should arrange to see your health care provider.