Tests Used to Confirm Pregnancy

Written by Tracy Stickler | Published on December 9, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on December 9, 2014

Tests Used to Confirm Pregnancy

A woman can often tell she is pregnant by noticing at least one common symptom. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of pregnancy, your first step should be a home pregnancy test or a visit to your doctor who can help you confirm the pregnancy.

Home Pregnancy Tests

Home pregnancy tests (HPT) can be used on the first day of your missed period. Some very sensitive tests can be used even earlier than this.

The tests work by detecting the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine, which is only found in the body during pregnancy. A chemical in the stick changes color when it comes into contact with this hormone. Tests vary in the time it takes to get results, but most take about 10 minutes to get an accurate reading.

Most HPT manufacturers recommend taking the test twice as results can vary if a test is taken too soon after the first missed period. For some women, hCG levels are too low to catch early on. Applicators vary from brand to brand, but the tests are generally inexpensive. They can be performed in the privacy of your own home.

Pregnancy tests are accurate as long as they are used correctly. It's possible to have a false negative, when the test says you aren't pregnant but you are. If you missed your period and it doesn’t arrive after a few days, repeat the test or check with your doctor.

Clinical Urine Test

A urine test can also be performed at a doctor’s office. Urine tests given at a doctor’s office are not necessarily any more accurate than an HPT. However, with the help of a professional you may be able to eliminate any potential errors that could affect the accuracy of the test. A clinical urine test may cost more than an HPT depending on your co-payments.

Blood Test

These tests are taken at a doctor’s office. A laboratory tests a woman's blood to detect the presence of hCG. Blood tests can detect hCG earlier than urine tests. Blood tests tend to be more expensive than home tests and the results take longer. There are two types of pregnancy blood tests.

  • Qualitative hCG Blood Test:  This test checks to see if there is any hCG being produced in the body. It gives a simple yes or no answer as to whether or not you are pregnant.
  • Quantitative hCG Blood Test:  This test measures the specific level of hCG in the blood.

If the level is higher or lower than expected based on how far along you think you are in the pregnancy, your doctor may want to arrange some more testing. This could include repeating the hCG test in a couple of days, or an ultrasound. The most common reason for the hCG level to appear abnormal is being wrong on your dates. This would mean you are farther along or not as far as you thought in the pregnancy.

Because it measures the exact amount of hCG in the blood, quantitative hCG blood tests are very accurate. They can detect smaller amounts of the hormone than a qualitative hCG blood test or a urine test.

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Send us your feedback

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Trending Now

Easy Ways to Conceal an Epinephrine Shot
Easy Ways to Conceal an Epinephrine Shot
Learn how to discreetly carry your epinephrine autoinjectors safely and discreetly. It’s easier than you think to keep your shots on hand when you’re on the go.
The Best Multiple Sclerosis iPhone and Android Apps of the Year
The Best Multiple Sclerosis iPhone and Android Apps of the Year
These best multiple sclerosis apps provide helpful information and tools to keep track of your symptoms, including medication reminders.
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
There is not just one type of migraine. Chronic migraine is one subtype of migraine. Understand what sets these two conditions apart.
Timeline of an Anaphylactic Reaction
Timeline of an Anaphylactic Reaction
From first exposure to life-threatening complications, learn how quickly an allergy attack can escalate and why it can become life threatening.
How to Evaluate Your Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Plan
How to Evaluate Your Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Plan
Every multiple sclerosis (MS) patient is different, and no single treatment plan works for everyone. Learn more about what to consider when evaluating your MS treatment plan.

Want information? Want to take action?
We want to help.

We've got all the information you need to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Sign up for Healthline's pregnancy newsletter and you'll receive:
  • the latest pregnancy and parenting news
  • recipes and practical tips to keep you and
    baby healthy
  • advice on everything from preconception
    to delivery

Thanks very much! You’ll receive a confirmation email soon!