What are pregnancy test strips and how do I use them? 

Could you be expecting a baby? Waiting to find out if you’re expecting can be nerve-racking. A woman should know as early as she can if she is pregnant, as she will need to monitor her health more carefully and make some lifestyle changes. If you think you might be pregnant, it’s time to buy a home pregnancy test!

A urine test or pregnancy strips are simple to use, budget-friendly, and a reliable choice for early pregnancy detection all from the comfort of your home. However, each brand of pregnancy test works slightly differently, so it is essential to read the instructions on when to take the test and how to interpret the results. 

These devices work by detecting your urine for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)—a hormone that your body starts producing shortly after conception when an embryo implants in the uterine wall about six to ten days after fertilization. So, the earliest time for taking a home urine test is 14 days after possible conception, but it’s best to wait until after missing your period for the most accurate results.

Before you use a test, check the expiration date, read all the directions carefully, and gather your supplies. You will need a watch or timer, a flat surface, and possibly a clean and dry collection cup for urine. It is important to catch a “midstream sample.” This means that you should let out a little bit of pee first, and then use the rest of your pee for the test. Whichever pregnancy test you buy, take it first thing in the morning to increase your chances of accuracy.

There are different tests with varying degrees of accuracy. Used properly, pregnancy tests can be 99% accurate. To use them, simply dip the strip into a cup of urine with its absorbent tip for about three seconds, not allowing the urine surface to go above the maximum level line on the test strip. You can also hold it underneath your urine stream, but this method could get messy. Place the pregnancy testing stick on a flat, dry surface with the “result window” facing up and results will be ready in less than five minutes although different brands of the test may vary in the result times. They’re relatively easy to read with each brand of testing having its way of giving results. It can be a plus (+) or two lines, even a faint one meaning you’re pregnant, and a minus (-) or one line means you’re not pregnant. It can also be a change of color and even displayed in words such as “pregnant” or “not pregnant”. 

A positive test result shows that hcG has been detected in your urine at a level above normal so visit a nearby health facility as soon as possible to guide your next steps of prenatal care and counseling for a healthy pregnancy. If the results are negative, it can be because it’s too early as it takes some time for your body to produce enough hCG levels for a positive result. Try again after one week if you still haven’t had your period as it won’t be negative for long if you are pregnant. However incorrect use, some conditions, and some medications can produce false or inaccurate readings in pregnancy tests so make sure to visit a health center to get a confirmation. Pregnancy tests are available at pharmacies.