The accuracy of the pregnancy test is a very anxious doubt in a woman’s life when she very impatiently wants to know if she is pregnant or not. This could be when she wants to have a baby or when she begins to fear that she could accidentally have become pregnant.
In the former case, the positive result brings immense joy while in the latter case, it brings fear. In both cases, the urgency and the confirmation of the accuracy of pregnancy test result are uppermost in the mind. How soon the test can give an accurate result becomes important at such times.
In other words, when is the best time to do the test and how best to do it?
As explained in pregnancy tests, there are two types of pregnancy tests:
- You can do the urine pregnancy test at home and hence, is also called the home pregnancy test. It boasts of 97% accuracy but this accuracy rating begins on the day after you have missed the period.
- The pregnancy blood test is conducted in a pathology laboratory and boasts of 99% accuracy and this accuracy stands even before you have missed your period.
The blood test can give an accurate result before you have missed the period while the urine test is not so accurate at such an early date.
This post will tell you how accurate the two types of pregnancy tests can be and how best to conduct the urine pregnancy test for better accuracy.
In this regard, the blood test scores over the urine pregnancy test in giving a more accurate result on an earlier day in relation to the date of the missed period.
But, in spite of this, most prefer the urine pregnancy test. Reasons:
- Firstly, the urine pregnancy test can be done at home, while you will have to travel to the pathology lab to do the blood test.
- Secondly, there is the pain of the needle prick to be felt in the case of the blood test.
- Thirdly, there is the cost factor. The urine pregnancy test can cost anywhere from $4 to $10 depending on where and which brand you buy. The blood test can cost $50 and above to do the test.
Accuracy of home pregnancy test (HPT)
Home pregnancy tests can be quite accurate and reliable if used correctly and done at the right time.
There are many types of brands that offer the urine pregnancy test. A review has shown that urine pregnancy tests or home pregnancy tests are accurate to the extent of 97% when performed by technicians but the accuracy drops down to 75% when done by non-expert users.
This only shows that accuracy greatly depends on the test being properly performed.
The instructions on the kit are fairly explicit and it is the failure to follow them properly, which drops the accuracy of the test and can give false results.
If the test is properly done by you and at the right time, you too can get high accuracy results.
Secondly, digital pregnancy kits are almost of the same accuracy as the traditional kits with the difference being that the digital ones spell out the result out to you:”pregnant” or “not pregnant” and they are slightly more expensive.
How to perform the home pregnancy test at home?
The following tips will help you to perform the HPT properly and increase the accuracy of the results. Before you begin, read the instructions carefully.
- Take the first urine sample in the morning to perform the test. If you have missed out on the first sample, use a urine sample which is being passed at least four hours after the previous one.
- Do not drink extra amounts of water the previous day just to have proper urination. This will only make the urine more dilute making it more difficult to detect the hCG.
- Collect the urine sample in a clean container. Dip the absorbent end of the test stick vertically into the urine container for the specific time indicated in the manual of the test kit. In most cases, it is 5 seconds. Be precise; use a stopwatch, if possible.
- Do the test within 15 minutes of having passed urine.
- Some kits require that you urinate on the absorbent end of the indicator stick for the specified time. Make sure it is the midstream sample, meaning pass some urine before holding the stick to it.
- Place the stick on a clean flat surface with the result window facing upwards and wait for the specified time to read the result.
- It could be anywhere from one to five minutes. Some tests may ask you to wait for ten minutes. It is, therefore, important that you read the manual for precise instructions as the time for the result varies from kit to kit.
- Different kits display results in a different way. Some may indicate an appearance of a second line next to the control line. Even a faint second line indicates that you are pregnant. The digital test kit will display the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant” on the display window.
- Make sure that any medication you are taking does not interfere with the pregnancy test results.
- Read the literature of the medication or ask your doctor.
- Check the expiry date of the kit.
- Though many HPT kits claim 99% accuracy on the first day after you have a missed period, research indicates that HPT does not detect the hCG this early because the hCG levels are very low
- The right time to do the test will be about 7 days after you have missed the period.
- There are various brands of HPT kits in the market. Some are more sensitive than others. Brands, therefore, make a difference in the accuracy of the HPT results early in pregnancy.
Accuracy of pregnancy blood tests
As mentioned in the post on how the pregnancy tests work, hCG hormone is produced in the body by the embryo in the early stages and later by the placenta after the fertilized egg gets implanted onto the wall of the uterus.
This shows up in the blood and blood tests for pregnancy are done to determine the level of hCG hormone in the blood. Urine pregnancy test helps to determine the hCG presence in urine.
How soon can the blood test detect pregnancy?
Blood pregnancy tests are more helpful to determine pregnancy in its earliest stages – about 8 to 10 days after the ovulation date.
How accurate are blood pregnancy tests?
Pregnancy blood tests are done in a laboratory and have an accuracy rate of 99%. They are known to give accurate results when performed even 7 days after your ovulation date, which is 7 days before your next period is due (because in a 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation takes place on the 14th day).
However, it is advised to always confirm your home pregnancy test result by following up with a pregnancy blood test.