Sensitivity, Accuracy and Affordability:
The New Pregnancy Tests!

Over the past 10 years or so, we've seen some remarkable improvements in the home pregnancy test - and not just in lower prices. Newer tests are more affordable and more sensitive - meaning you can get accurate results sooner!

The world of the pregnancy test has changed over the past few years! Pregnancy tests are not only more affordable than they used to be, they are more sensitive - and that means you can start testing earlier. This article will review recent improvements in preg test technology and hopefully answer every question you might have about home pregnancy testing! Let's start with how the test works and then get to issues like improved accuracy, sensitivity, and lower cost!

How does a Pregnancy Test Function?
A urine pregnancy test detects human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, a hormone that is released by the placenta that surrounds the embryo right when you get pregnant. Once the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, hCG is produced rapidly and doubles every 24 hours in the body. hCG will soon show up in a woman's urine. A pregnancy test will tell you when hCG in your urine reaches a specific level - and when the test sensitivity mark is reached, you will receive a positive result.

When Can I Test for Pregnancy
Test sensitivity is the level at which a pregnancy test will indicate a positive test line. The lower the "sensitivity number", the higher the sensitivity of the test. Just a few years ago, pregnancy tests had sensitivities of over 100mIU/hCG. Today, new home pregnancy tests yield a sensitivity of 20mIU/hCG - and this allows you to begin testing much sooner, without sacrificing accuracy. Clinical online pregnancy tests are actually more sensitive (20mIU) - and much more affordable - than drugstore brands.

The more sensitive tests on the market today are able to detect the hCG hormone in urine at the 20mIU/hCG level. And this means you do not need to wait until you experience a missed period. 20mIU/hCG is the amount of hCG typically present in a pregnant woman's urine at between 7 to 10 days past ovulation.

What is the Earliest I Can Test for Pregnancy?
If you are using a 20 mIU/hCG sensitivity pregnancy test, you can begin testing at between seven and ten days past ovulation - shortly after the fertilized egg "implants" in the uterus. This is well before your missed period, and a clear advantage over the classic drugstore brands which may still ask you to wait until you miss that period.

Now, if you do elect to test on the early side, please note that there are a few variables that may delay a first positive result - and this goes for any test brand. First, the date of implantation (discussed above) may vary among women. No two pregnancies are exactly the same! For some women, the fertilized egg will implant just a handful of days after ovulation and for other women, it may take a week or so. Second, a differing rate of hCG production may also be a factor. In short, if you do test on the early side, it is always suggested to confirm any result with follow up tests - not a problem with today's affordable clinical test strips. Also, see our "tips" section below to make sure you are getting the most accurate results - sooner.

Using a Pregnancy Test and Testing Tips
Gone are the days of the chemistry sets that passed for pregnancy tests just a decade or two ago! Using a pregnancy test today is easy as can be - though you should always follow the manufactures instructions. With the all-in-one midstream test, you simply hold the kit directly in your urine steam. With the compact strips, you collect urine in a cup and simply dip the tip of the test into the liquid. With both tests, the urine migrates through a testing material (called a reagent). With every test, you should see a "Control" line that indicates the kit is functioning properly. If the hCG content in the urine exceeds the given sensitivity threshold, then you will see a "Test" line/symbol that indicates a positive result. Depending on the concentration of hCG, the test line may be faint or bold. The more hCG present, the bolder the test line or positive symbol!

To optimize test results, there are a few well-known testing tips identified by all the major manufacturers. If you follow these very simple suggestions, you can ensure that you are getting the earliest accurate results possible - and avoid any opportunity for a "false" results. Typically, a false result is caused by failing to follow instructions or testing too early.

First, each test has a given reaction time. After using the test, you need to interpret the result within the time frame specified in the instructions. The reaction time is typically between 5 and 10 minutes. Once the reaction time has passed, you should not attempt to ascertain a result.

Second, using first morning urine is the smart way to test for pregnancy. That's because your body has been accumulating urine all night while you sleep and this urine should contain the strongest concentration of the hCG hormone.

Third, hold you urine! If for some reason you can't use first morning urine (or if you pee frequently at night), then you can test at any time during the day, but you should "hold" your urine for at least a few hours before testing. In addition, try not too drink too much water or liquids directly prior to testing. This can "dilute" the sample and postpone the arrival an early positive result.

Last but not least, one of the most common questions about home pregnancy testing is: Can over prescription or over-the-counter drugs interfere with a pregnancy test result? Essentially, only a few hCG-containing fertility drugs can interfere with a pregnancy test. Drugs containing hCG may cause a false positive result. The most common fertility drug, clomid, does not fall in this category and will not cause a false result. There are no other over-the-counter drugs that can cause issues with home pregnancy tests, nor will herbal medications or any foods.

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