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Most women find out that they are pregnant by taking a home pregnancy test. These pregnancy tests are hugely popular and are easy to use. If you are newly trying to conceive, you may wonder how a home pregnancy tests works, and how to take it.

Here are the basics and beyond, laid out for you. 

How does a home pregnancy test work?

There is a wide variety of home pregnancy tests on the market. Pregnancy tests can be obtained from any pharmacy in most countries, and are also often available from grocery stores, as well as on the internet. Home pregnancy tests come in basic and more upmarket forms, and can be cheap or expensive. The most basic pregnancy tests are only paper strips on which a line can appear if you are pregnant, while the most modern one comes up with the text "pregnant" or "not pregnant". The more basic tests will always have a control line that shows you the test worked, and the additional line that can either show color or remain the same, depending on whether you are pregnant or not.

All home pregnancy tests use a small urine sample, and react to one hormone that signifies pregnancy. This hormone is called human Chorionic Gonadotropin, or hCG for short. It is possible for some tumors to produce this same hormone, but most women can be sure they are pregnant if they have a positive pregnancy test. The hormone hCG will appear in your urine when a fertilized egg starts to implant into the lining of your womb. Your hCG levels will go up with every day of your early pregnancy.

When and how can you take a test?

Pregnancy tests can be used from the day you missed your period. Traditionally, a pregnancy test would be taken first thing in the morning. That is because you don't drink many (if any) fluids during the night, so the first time you urinate in the morning will produce the sample in which the hormone your test is looking for is most concentrated.

Most manufacturers of pregnancy tests will still recommend users to take the test upon waking. The more expensive tests will, however, show accurate results at any point of the day now home pregnancy tests are a lot more sensitive now than when they first became available. If you choose to bulk-buy cheap pregnancy tests online, you should use them in the morning. There are also tests on the market that claim to give accurate results even before your period is due.

The earliest point at which a newly pregnant woman could get a positive test would be at least seven days after ovulation. This is the earliest opportunity for the fertilized egg to nestle in the uterine lining, and before that happens no hCG is produced by the body. Generally, a positive early pregnancy test will mean you are pregnant. If your test is negative, you should still test again on the day of your missed period.

What are the alternatives?

Urine pregnancy tests are the most common method of pregnancy testing now, whether it is at home or in your doctor's office. Women who think they are pregnant can take a home pregnancy test, or have a urine pregnancy test done at their doctor's office or women's health clinic. Blood pregnancy tests are also available, but are not often used now.

What to do when after a positive pregnancy test

So you've got a positive pregnancy test? Your first reaction may be joy, shock, or anything in between. Once you realize that you really are expecting, you probably want to know what you should do about prenatal care. If you had been trying to conceive, you have hopefully already built up stores of folic acid in your body, after taking supplements for a while. You have also been refraining from negative choices like drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. If your pregnancy was not planned, you may be worried about your baby's health or you may not even want to continue with your pregnancy at all. No matter what your situation, you can call your doctor for an appointment as soon as you realize you are pregnant. Depending on your circumstances and your country, you may have a prenatal appointment scheduled right away, or you may be told to come in at eight weeks, 1o weeks, or 12 weeks. You may have the option to see your family doctor, a midwife, or an OBGYN.

What if you still have pregnancy symptoms after a positive test?

Are you experiencing typical pregnancy signs like a missed period, pregnancy nausea, abdominal cramping or extreme fatigue? Getting a negative pregnancy test after you were sure you were pregnant can be really confusing. Women who tested a few days early are best off waiting two or three days, and testing again. Make sure you test first thing in the morning, to get the highest possible levels of hCG. If your periods are very regular and you are sure you did not test too early, you can wait a few days to see if your period will start. See a doctor if your period still has not turned up, though you may well be having some medical issues.

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