You’ve missed your period for several days already… How can you know if you are pregnant? Do you need to panic or be happy? Whether the pregnancy is planned or not, you shouldn’t ignore your missed period. It is best to find out the reasons for it as soon as possible. Today we’re going to tell you everything about how to know about your pregnancy, what the first pregnancy signs are and how to recognize them.
In this article:
- What are the first pregnancy sings?
- How can you know about the pregnancy before the missed period?
- What can these symptoms mean if you aren’t pregnant?
- How can you find out if you’re pregnant?
- How can you test the pregnancy at home?
- When is the best time to use home pregnancy tests?
- Test strips
- Cassette tests
- Midstream tests
- Digital tests
- How can you choose the best pregnancy test?
- Can the pregnancy test be wrong?
- How does your basal body temperature help to test the pregnancy?
- What are pregnancy lab tests?
- How can ultrasound scans help to know about the pregnancy?
The First Pregnancy Signs
There are some common symptoms which can help you to prove or clear your suspicions of being pregnant. Besides missed periods you may also have such symptoms as morning sickness, the constant feeling of sleepiness or breast changes. These are symptoms which you’ll probably have during the first week of pregnancy. Some women can indicate the pregnancy by the feeling of tenderness of their breasts and by the color around the nipple area. It may become darker. Moreover you may become more irritable than usual and even small things can upset you. One more symptom is the increase of your appetite and strange changes in your food habits. For example, you may want to eat pickles together with jam. It looks so delicious to you that it makes your mouth water. And if you finally have the need to urinate frequently among other things, you are surely pregnant.
How Can You Know About the Pregnancy Before a Missed Period?
Unfortunately, symptoms of early pregnancy may be rather unpleasant for women. Even before your missed period you may feel spasms and pain followed by implantation bleeding. This is one of the first and the most accurate symptoms of being pregnant which takes place before the moment when tests can be useful or before your missed period or before you feel any indisposition connected with pregnancy.
Such short bleeding happens on the 6th-10th day after the conception when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. Your period won’t come after that point. However, not every woman has it and in some cases it can pass unnoticed, because it’s not a bleeding in itself but spotting. It may be pink and last for several hours only. Though there’re some exceptions when women have such bleeding for some days. But it shouldn’t be strong, otherwise it may be the symptom of a miscarriage, or dysfunctional uterine bleeding, etc.
To sum up let’s name all the pregnancy symptoms once more:
- implantation bleeding;
- missed period;
- breast swelling and tenderness;
- leaking breasts;
- morning sickness;
- changes in your food habits;
- appetite changes;
- frequent urination.
Nevertheless, all these symptoms can’t be called quite accurate in the period of early pregnancy. They can have nothing to do with a pregnancy at all. They’re indirect and may be absent during all of your pregnancy or on the contrary, you may have them, but not be pregnant.
If you are unsure of the state of your body you should definitely schedule a doctor’s appointment or take a pregnancy test in order to determine if you are pregnant or not.
What Can These Symptoms Mean if You Aren’t Pregnant?
First of all, it may be a symptom of the beginning of your usual period. Secondly, the susceptibility of some women, which worry about being pregnant, may cause sickness and other symptoms due to psychological reasons. There’re some things which can affect ovulation and cause missed periods or menstrual disorders:
- moving home;
- different diseases;
- various medicine;
- excess exercise;
- weight gain (often after a strict diet).
How Can You Find Out if You’re Pregnant?
There’re more reliable methods to check for pregnancy than to recognize the symptoms. But in early pregnancy they can’t give the definite result as well. There are:
- home pregnancy tests;
- measurement of basal body temperature;
- pregnancy lab tests;
- ultrasound scans.
How Can You Test For Pregnancy at Home?
Today in the pharmacy you can find many kinds of pregnancy tests which vary in ways of using and reliability of results.
- test strips;
- cassette tests;
- midstream tests;
- digital tests.
When is the Best Time to use Home Pregnancy Tests?
Pregnancy tests are quite useful during missed periods. The answer to the question “how soon to take the pregnancy test” can be the fact that such tests are intended to recognize the pregnancy in the early period and most of them can give you the definite answer on the first day of your missed period. Such tests are easy to use, available and quite reliable. But you will get more definite result if you take a test two-three times.
Such tests, though different in appearance, are base on the same method of checking for the HCG hormone which is produce in the body of a pregnant woman. This hormone together with the decay products are excreted by the body with urine. The assay reagent in the tests interacts with these products. It’s better to use morning urine for the tests and after intimate washing. Morning urine has most HCG hormone and you’ll get the most accurate result in this case.
Test strips, among other analyses, are the most popular, less expensive and the easiest to use. Let’s see how to use such tests:
- Have a wash and gather a sample of your first morning urine into the collection container.
- Dip a testing strip into your sample with the arrow end pointing towards the urine.
- Lay the strip test down somewhere on a horizontal surface. Look at the result in a few minutes.
- One color band on the test shows you negative result. If there’re two color bands, accept congratulations! You’re pregnant!
Drawbacks of the test strips:
- If you take the test strip out of the sample earlier or later than is necessary, the result may be wrong.
- The test strips are made of paper which doesn’t always contain the accurate concentration of the assay reagent. And it can also cause a false result.
- Test strips should be kept in a proper way. If it’s stored in a damp place, it may have a negative effect on its quality and cause a false result as well.
These tests for the identification of early pregnancy are more expensive, but more comfortable in use. Cassette tests are the second generation tests. Though they are the same test strips, but in plastic cassettes.
How should we use them?
You needn’t dip a cassette test into the liquid; one drop of your urine will be enough for the test. In front of the test there’re two windows. The first is for your urine which you can drop with the pipette. The pipette usually comes fitted with the test. And in the second window you’ll see the result.
Advantages and disadvantages of cassette tests:
- Both test strips and cassette tests have the same quality and degree of sensitivity. But the price of the latter can be 5-10 times as many as the price of usual test strips.
- If you know about your pregnancy and want to keep the test as a souvenir, buy a cassette test. It’s more convenient to keep and looks quite nice.
They’re the third generation tests. Their design is more complicated and reliable in respect of its structure and results. Inside such tests have a fibrous shaft composed of pipes. Along this shaft the urine goes straight to the assay reagent. Due to the structure of the test the HCG hormone will definitely be identified if only the urine has it. You won’t have to worry about taking the test out of the sample in the right time or using it at the wrong time.
To identify your pregnancy you just need to place the absorbent tip of the test in your urine stream. You can do it at any time of the day. You’ll see the result in a few minutes – one or two color bands. Midstream tests are more expensive than cassette tests. This is probably the only drawback.
Advantages of Midstream tests:
- You needn’t collect the urine sample.
- You can use it at any suitable time of the day.
- They’re easy to use.
- They have a high degree of sensitivity which distinguishes them from other pregnancy tests.
The only important difference that distinguishes digital tests from others is the word “pregnant” or “not pregnant”. You’ll see one of them as the result at the end of the test. It’s quite convenient. You needn’t make out the sings and worry about how many color bands you see. The test looks nice and you can keep it for a long time. As they’re the most expensive, to throw them away is a waste of money. But, of course, you can decide yourself what to do with it.
How Can You Choose the Best Pregnancy Test?
Before purchasing a test pay attention to its degree of sensitivity. It measures in thousands of International units or mlU. So a test with a sensitivity of 10 mlU can identify the hCG hormone in a lower concentration than a test with a sensitivity of 20 mlU. That’s why it can give the accurate result in the early period of pregnancy. High sensitive tests can identify it in 7-10 days after the conception, less sensitive tests do it in the first few days of your missed period. Most of the tests which you can find in the pharmacy have a sensitivity of 20-25 mlU.
Don’t forget to check the shelf life before purchasing the test. The expired assay reagent may mislead you and show a false result.
If the test gives you a positive result, you surely need to visit your gynecologist. You should make sure that your pregnancy is normal because tests show you the same result even if you have an ectopic pregnancy.
Can the Pregnancy Test Be Wrong?
There’re no analysis which can give you an absolute result. However pregnancy tests are rather reliable and show correct results in 95-98% of all cases. Nevertheless, the answer to the question “can the pregnancy tests be wrong?’ is definitely “yes”. And it can give you not only a false-negative result, but false-positive as well
You can have a false-negative result in the case:
- If you did the test too early, with the low concentration of the HCG hormone in your body.
- If you didn’t follow the test instruction and made a mistake.
- If you drank too much water which diluted your urine and lowered the concentration of the HCG hormone.
- If the test was expired.
You can have a false-positive result in a case:
- If you have dysfunctional ovariopathy.
- If the hCG hormone is produced by a neoplasm or tumor.
How Does Your Basal Body Temperature Help to Test Pregnancy?
To test your pregnancy by measuring the basal body temperature is a quite reliable method, but rather troublesome and difficult at the same time. First, you should know your menstrual cycle well and keep a diary of your regular changes in your basal body temperature. Second, the test takes a lot of time and is useful only if it’s not reasonable to visit a doctor or you have no opportunity to go. Or in a case when you are longing for the pregnancy, but monthly visits to the doctor aren’t of any use.
From the first day or rather form the first morning of your missed period you can begin to measure your basal body temperature. To do it you should insert a usual thermometer about 0.7-1 inch into your rectum and leave it for 5-7 minutes. You should do it after your night’s sleep but before getting up. If your temperature regularly rises above 37°С(98.6°F), it indicates the possibility of your pregnancy. However, there’re some cases when the temperature is lower even if the woman is pregnant. It may happen when there’s a threat of miscarriage.
How can you identify your pregnancy without tests?
- This is a cycle which takes place after ovulation and before your period and is characterized by higher temperature. So if you usually have this cycle for 12 days and suddenly it lasts for 16 days, the possibility of your pregnancy is high. The first cycle can last differently especially if you have irregular periods. But the ovarian cycle, as a rule, lasts for 12-14 days. You needn’t control all the period, but only the second cycle.
- The possibility of the pregnancy is also high if you have an additional third cycle of high temperature. The period usually consists of two cycles. The first is a cycle of low temperature. The second cycle begins after the ovulation. The temperature rises and as we’ve already known, it’s called the ovarian cycle. If you’re pregnant, there can be one more cycle of high temperature and the whole period will already consist of three cycles.
- If you have a high temperature for 18 days, you’re pregnant.
What are Pregnancy Lab Tests?
There’re some other pregnancy lab tests to identify an early pregnancy. It’s a lab HCG test. It’s a more reliable test than a urine analysis and gives more accurate results in the earliest period of the pregnancy. Women’s ovaries produce progesterone, theelol and estradiol which are necessary for a normal pregnancy. They’re produced under the impact of chorionic gonadotropic hormone or protein complex, which is synthesized by the cells of the embryo and then by the placenta.
With the help of this blood analysis you can identify the beginning of your pregnancy in 6-7 days after the conception. Theoretically the results will be ready in 5 hours after giving the blood for the analysis.
Trophoblastic Beta-Globulin Analysis
It’s a more difficult, but more reliable lab method of identifying the pregnancy which is also based on checking the level of hormones in the woman’s body. In this case the doctor uses black blood for the analysis and checks it for more specific hormones – trophoblastic beta-globulin. This test gives not only the most accurate result, but also lets you fix the duration of gestation. This lab analysis takes a bit of time to confirm the result and it’s better to take it even before your missed period, in 10 days after the conception.
How Can Ultrasound Scans Help to Know About the Pregnancy?
Ultrasound analysis is one of the most accurate methods or you can say the most accurate to identify the pregnancy. But it’s advisable to take such a test at least 3 weeks after the conception.
It can be made in different ways:
- Transabdominalanalysis – is made through your anterior abdominal wall.
- Transvaginal analysis – is made by inserting a probe into your vagina.
There’s no doubt that the transvaginal ultrasound analysis is more accurate. In the early pregnancy it can show you even a 5 mm gestational sac. Besides it also helps you to check that you don’t have an ectopic pregnancy.
Ultrasounds also help identify the sex of the child and whether or not they are a boy or a girl. It also helps to check the infant’s heart beat. Another thing it helps to look at is if you have one or more children.
But this perfect analysis has its disadvantages as well. Some doctors think that the ultrasound analysis may cause a miscarriage in the early period or in particular until the 9th week of pregnancy. Though doctors have no significant evidence of this, you should use it only if it’s necessary.
So, if you have a positive result, accept our congratulations. Pregnancy is a mere miracle. Do you know that a woman in good health has only 10 ovulations during 12 menstrual cycles and it doesn’t guarantee that she’ll become pregnant? So you’re a lucky person. But don’t forget to visit your doctor. He/she can confirm your pregnancy, check you for possible infection and put you on medication if necessary. Doctors also give you useful advice on how to make your pregnancy easy and your child’s health strong.