Home Pregnancy Tests
In ancient Egyptian times, women who wanted to know if they were expecting a baby had their own version of an at-home pregnancy test. Think you might be pregnant? Learn more about how to take a pregnancy test.
“Men who are using it just need to remember that they could be one of the quarter of men who aren’t getting an accurate result,” says Brad Miller, M.D., a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and partner at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, a private-practice infertility specialists group located in West Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Miller also points out (as do the manufacturers) that this test can only measure levels of sperm and not morphology (shape) or motility (how fast they swim), which are just as important for determining fertility. He adds, “And even if the test determines that a man falls with a fertile range, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other non-sperm related issues, such as a blockage, that could be interfering with his fertility.” Even with these caveats, the test can provide men with information they would not previously have been able to obtain on their own, information that may aid them in their quest for fatherhood.
When you’ve been giving baby-making your all, there’s nothing quite as alluring as an at-home pregnancy test. Knowing that this one little stick could reveal what your heart’s been yearning for all these months or years, it’s no wonder some women can’t resist using one even before they’ve missed a period.
The majority of these tests—and there are dozens of different ones available—involve holding an absorbent stick in your urine stream for a few seconds, and then waiting a few minutes for the result to appear. The tests work by measuring levels of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), secreted by the developing placenta shortly after fertilization. Most pregnancy tests fall within a similar price range. First Response Early Result, for example, comes with 3 tests in a package and sells for around $17.99, while a brand called Confirm comes with two tests and costs $10.99.
The good news about home pregnancy tests is that they are extremely reliable and accurate. In fact, most ob/gyns no longer use blood tests to determine pregnancy, instead relying on results from a urine test nearly identical to the ones women perform at home.
One determining factor in the test’s reliability is timing. For the most accurate result, a woman should wait until a week after the first day of a missed period. By then, if she is pregnant, a fertilized egg will have attached to the uterine wall, indicating that the pregnancy is potentially viable. Of course, not every hopeful woman can wait that long for an answer. So the next best scenario is to wait until one day after a missed period, which is around the time when pregnancy hormones are detectable.
While the tests are considered extremely accurate, there is a very slight risk of false results. According to the American Fertility Association, false positives can occur in women taking hCG hormones to help stimulate ovulation, since the hormone is the same one produced by a pregnancy and measured by the test. False negatives may occur when a woman performs the test even before she’s missed a period, when the egg hasn’t yet attached to the uterine wall, and hasn’t started therefore hasn’t started manufacturing hCG.