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How to Read a Pregnancy Test

How to Read a Pregnancy Test

Reading a pregnancy test may sound elementary and uncomplicated, however, the anxiety and curiosity women feel at that time may confuse them. The following HerHaleness article will instruct you on reading a home pregnancy test correctly.
HerHaleness Staff
Last Updated: Apr 26, 2018
It is said that pregnancy is a woman's rebirth. It's the most important phase of her life, and knowing about it well in advance, will help the expecting mom, prepare herself for the same. Every woman taking a pregnancy test, is anxious about the result. "A positive or a negative?" The emotional state and wait at that point in time, can confuse a lady, which may lead to a wrong interpretation of the result. There are two types of pregnancy tests, namely, blood test and urine test. However, this article deals only with the one that can be done at home, i.e., the urine test.
This test shows around 97% accurate results, which makes it a reliable test for pregnancy. To ensure the confirmation of a pregnancy, one may have to conduct a blood test. However, for immediate results, here is a guide about home pregnancy kits, their usage, and the correct method to read the test result.
Reading a Home Pregnancy Test
The urine test should be done as soon as you wake up in the morning. It will give you accurate results, as the morning urine contains high levels of hCG. There are two types of tests - one with a strip to be immersed in the urine and the other is, a stick with a band window to be held directly in the urine stream. Some brands may provide a urine collection cup or some strips are designed to be held directly in the urine stream. Others may come with a cup and a dropper to add urine to the strip. You can buy the one that is convenient for you.
Using Test Strip
  • Read all the instructions given along with the test strip. Each brand has a different method of interpretation of the results, hence, be sure you have understood the instructions. You should read carefully, how many seconds you need to wait to determine accurate results. Follow the instructions properly and act accordingly.
  • You need to check the duration for the strip to be kept immersed in the urine. The tip may be required to be saturated and immersed for no longer than 10 to 15 seconds. Do not immerse the strip pass the marker line or the specified time frame.
  • Place the strip on a flat, dry surface and wait for some minutes as indicated on the box.
  • In case of a negative test, you will observe only one color band on the control region and no band on the test region.
  • In case of a positive test, you will observe color bands on the control and test regions. These two lines indicate that you are pregnant. Remember, a positive line will appear directly below the control line on the result window area. A faint line is also an indication of a positive pregnancy. You need to wait for a few days and take the test again. This time, you may get a darker line as the levels of hCG may have increased in your body.
  • Any line that you may see at the point between the test lines indicates a negative result. If you do not observe any band at all, it indicates an invalid test. You may not have done the test correctly and therefore, need to do it again.
Pregnancy test positive
Pregnancy test negative
Using a Stick with Display Window
  • You need to remove the cap off the test stick and turn it over, so that the absorbent tip points downward. Hold the stick in the path of your urine stream, such that, it comes in contact with the absorbent area. Keep the contact for about 10 seconds, so that there is sufficient urine absorption.
  • The urine should not be splashed into the result window, as it may give inaccurate results. Then, re-cap the stick and keep it flat on a dry surface, with the window facing upwards.
  • You may have to wait for about 5 minutes for accurate results. Depending on the concentration of the hCG levels, you may get a result even in 40 seconds.
  • Once you complete the test you will observe a band at the control portion (C). This is an indication that your test is working properly.
  • A positive test is indicated by a band that appears in the area marked (T) along with a band appearing in the area marked (C). These two lines indicate a positive pregnancy.
  • In case of a negative test, you will not observe any line in the area marked (T). Even if a faint line is observed, it indicates positive result.
  • In case of an invalid test, there are no visible bands and even the control line is invisible. This means the test was not conducted properly and needs to be conducted again.
Types of Tests
Blood Test
A blood test detects pregnancy earlier than the urine tests, even about six to eight days after ovulation. However, it can be carried out only by a doctor. There are two types of blood tests.
  • Quantitative test that quantifies the amount of hCG in the blood.
  • Qualitative test that just gives a yes or no answer.
Urine Test
It is the most widely used method, as it is convenient and easy. You will find that the market is flooded with home pregnancy test kits, each having a different way of indicating the results. These are the only used home pregnancy tests (HPTs). They are inexpensive and accurate when used correctly and at the right time. HPTs are sold over the counter by most drugstores and their cost depends on the brand. There are a few digital devices available in the market that display "pregnant" or "not pregnant" in the display window. When the test is completed, an hour glass appears in the display window followed by the positive or negative result of the test. Remember, if the hour glass does not appear in the window, it means that the test was wrongly performed. As a result, you will have to perform the test all over again for correct results.
How Do They Work
Pregnancy tests determine the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in the urine or blood. This hormone is secreted after the fertilized egg or embryo gets attached to the uterus (around 6-12 days after ovulation). This usually happens around six days after the fertilization has occurred. The amount of hCG secreted, increases rapidly and it doubles every 36 to 48 hours as the pregnancy advances.
Factors Affecting the Tests
Taking the test too early
Women feel anxious and hence, many of them go for a test on the very first day of their missed period. However, it is important to know, that the menstrual cycle may vary or there may be a miscalculation in the due date of the period. The level of hCG will also appear low in the urine. Hence, retesting after a few days may give you accurate results.
Expired or improperly stored test kit
Check the expiry date and storage instructions on the test kit. The accuracy may get affected due to an expired or improperly stored kit.
Incorrect use
Diluted urine, not following the instructions correctly, or exceeding the time frame mentioned in the instructions, may affect the accuracy of the test and you may get a wrong result.
Medications
Certain fertility medicines that contain hCG may result in a false positive result or show a faint line on the display window, which may be difficult to interpret.
If you follow the instructions properly, it is very easy to read a home pregnancy test. However, to be on the safer side, you can always visit your health care provider for a second opinion. Through a blood test carried out by the doctor, it will be easier to confirm your pregnancy.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical professional.