February marks pregnancy awareness week.

Early pregnancy detection is important for improving pregnancy outcomes as the first trimester is a critical window of foetal development.

Am I pregnant?

Are you wondering if you might be pregnant?  The only way to know for sure is by taking a pregnancy test.

Pregnancy tests detects a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine or blood.  This hormone is made right after a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of a woman’s uterus.  Once the egg implants in the uterine lining, the placenta produces hCG.

Types of pregnancy tests

There are two main types of pregnancy tests that can indicate if you are pregnant: blood tests and urine tests.

Urine tests is done at home or in a doctor’s office.  Blood tests can be requested by a doctor from a laboratory but are used less often than urine tests.  Blood pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy earlier than a urine pregnancy test, however with these tests it takes longer to get the results than with a urine pregnancy test.

What does the pregnancy test result mean?

A positive result indicates that you are pregnant.  This is true no matter how faint the line, colour or sign.  If you get a positive result you should make an appointment with your doctor or visit the clinic to discuss the next steps.

In very rare cases you can have a false-positive result.  You could have a false-positive result if blood or protein is present in your urine.  Certain medication such as some fertility medication or other medication that contains hCG, may cause false-positive results.  Biochemical pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, menopause or problems with your ovaries might also contribute to misleading test results.

If you get a negative result you are likely not pregnant.  However, you may still be pregnant if:

  • the test is past its expiration date,
  • you didn’t follow the instructions correctly,
  • you tested too soon,
  • your urine is too diluted (because you drank large amounts of fluids right before the test), or
  • you are taking certain medications such as diuretics.

For more information read What is a pregnancy test and how does it work and Useful information on pregnancy tests.