More Pregnancy Testing Information
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms or think you may be pregnant, schedule a free appointmentwith Care Pregnancy Clinic today to medically confirm your pregnancy and how far along you are.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Delay/Difference in Menstruation
A delayed or missed menstruation is the most common pregnancy symptom leading a woman to test for pregnancy. When you become pregnant, your next period should be missed. Many women can bleed while they are pregnant, but typically the bleeding will be shorter or lighter than a normal period.
Other Explanations: Excessive weight gain/loss, fatigue, hormonal problems, tension, stress, ceasing to take the birth control pill, or breast-feeding.
Implantation bleeding can be one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms. About 6-12 days after conception, the embryo implants itself into the uterine wall. Some women will experience spotting as well as some cramping.
Other Explanations: Actual menstruation, altered menstruation, changes in birth control pill, infection, or abrasion from intercourse.
Swollen or tender breasts is a pregnancy symptom which may begin as early as 1-2 weeks after conception. Women may notice changes in their breasts; they may be tender to the touch, sore, or swollen.
Other Explanations: Hormonal imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation (PMS) can also cause your breasts to be swollen or tender.
Feeling fatigued or more tired is a pregnancy symptom which can also start as early as the first week after conception.
Other Explanations: Stress, exhaustion, depression, common cold or flu, or other illnesses can also leave you feeling tired or fatigued.
This well-known pregnancy symptom will often show up between 2-8 weeks after conception. Some women are fortunate to not deal with morning sickness at all, while others will feel nauseous throughout most of their pregnancy.
Other Explanations: Food poisoning, stress, or other stomach disorders can also cause you to feel queasy.
Lower backaches may be a symptom that occurs early in pregnancy; however, it is common to experience a dull backache throughout an entire pregnancy.
Other Explanations: Impending menstruation, stress, other back problems, and physical or mental strains.
The sudden rise of hormones in your body can cause you to have headaches early in pregnancy.
Other Explanations: Dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, impending menstruation, eye strain, or other ailments can be the source of frequent or chronic headaches.
Around 6-8 weeks after conception, you may find yourself making a few extra trips to the bathroom.
Other Explanations: Urinary tract infection, diabetes, increasing liquid intake, or taking excessive diuretics.
Darkening of Areolas
If you are pregnant, the skin around your nipples may get darker.
Other Explanations: Hormonal imbalance unrelated to pregnancy or may be a leftover effect from a previous pregnancy.
While you may not have a strong desire to eat pickles and ice cream, many women will feel cravings for certain foods when they are pregnant. This can last throughout your entire pregnancy.
Other Explanations: Poor diet, lack of a certain nutrient, stress, depression, or impending menstruation.
American Pregnancy Association (2011). Pregnancy Symptoms – Early Signs of Pregnancy. Retrieved from:http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/earlypregnancysymptoms.html
Home Pregnancy Tests
The home pregnancy test has become the typical first step for women who think they may be pregnant. Pregnancy tests work by measuring the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that is produced by the placenta during pregnancy.
Many tests claim 99% accuracy in clinical studies. But how accurate are they, really?
Pregnancy tests vary in their sensitivity, or how much hCG is needed to trigger a positive result. In early pregnancy, the concentration of hCG in a woman’s urine can double every two or three days! For a 95% accurate result on the day of missed menses, a test must be sensitive to 12.5 mIU/mL. According to one study, only 16% of tests were accurate one or two days after a missed period.1 However, highly sensitive tests are often more prone to false positives. Typically, it is better to wait one week after missing a period to take a home pregnancy test, at which time a sensitivity of 100 mlU/mL should be sufficient.
Each pregnancy test will come with specific instructions for how it is to be used and how and when the results are to be interpreted. Test types vary from cassettes and strips that display colored lines to tests with digital read-outs. A recent study showed that women misread cassette and strip tests 30 to 40% of the time.2 Tests with digital displays are much easier to read and use, but are usually a bit more expensive.
Quick Home Test Tips
Follow the instructions for taking the test and reading the results exactly.
Taking a home pregnancy test with the first urine of the morning will yield the best results. The longer the urine used for your pregnancy test has been in your bladder, the better.
Do not drink a lot of extra water immediately before taking a pregnancy test, as extra fluids could over-dilute the urine.
For best results, home pregnancy tests should be taken 5 to 7 days after missing a period. Be sure to check the sensitivity of the test that you are using.
It is best to get confirmation of pregnancy from a medical professional. A home pregnancy test can only indicate hormone levels, not confirm that you are pregnant or that you have a pregnancy that will develop. An ultrasound exam is the best and fastest method to confirm a viable pregnancy.
The professionals at Care Pregnancy Clinic can provide free appointments for Pregnancy Diagnostic Services and Pre-Termination Evaluations to confirm your pregnancy via ultrasound.
Cole LA, Khanlian SA, Sutton JM, Davies S, Rayburn WF (2004). Accuracy of home pregnancy tests at the time of missed menses. AJOG, 190(1):100-5.
Pike J, Godbert S, Johnson S (2013). Comparison of volunteers’ experience of using, and accuracy of reading, different types of home pregnancy test formats. Exp Opin Med Diagn, 7(5):435-41.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Complications
The following symptoms may indicate a serious or life-threatening pregnancy condition. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, and have any of these physical problems, call your doctor or go to the emergency department right away.
Abdominal pain with a fever
Cramping and abdominal pain more than your period
Burning with urination
Puffiness in your hands or face
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011). STDs and Pregnancy – CDC Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/STDFact-Pregnancy.htm