I have peed on more than my fair share of hormonally responsive sticks. At this point in my life, I'm basically an expert at the "aim and go" home pregnancy tests, and have used a test from most major manufacturers. But how sensitive are they? I know that they can detect pregnancy before I even miss my period, it says so right on the box, but what else can affect the results? If I'm spotting, does bleeding affect a pregnancy test?
The testing technology used in the popular home pregnancy tests are actually pretty dynamic. They test the urine for the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which signals a positive pregnancy test. Your body only produces this hormone naturally when you're pregnant. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), these tests are incredibly sensitive to this hormone, and can test for it in blood or urine, and the presence of blood in the urine will not impact the accuracy of the test. You can also test too early in your cycle, which would impact the accuracy of the test depending upon the level of sensitivity.
Pregnancy tests have come a long way since the days of our mothers and grandmothers. I'm not going to say who, but someone in my family may have found themselves in the family way before they got married a very, very long time ago. I once asked that person how she knew she was pregnant. She told me, "I didn't get my monthlies for months and got terribly sick. It wasn't a leap." I cannot imagine waiting months to find out if I was pregnant. The two week wait seems an interminable amount of time to be expected to not know if you're knocked up. Months? Hell to the no. Back then, if it wasn't pure conjecture and the eventual swelling of your stomach, it was a blood test by a stodgy old doctor.
I am a happily married woman and mother, and I feel the eyes of judgement upon me every time I buy pregnancy tests. (Thank you, Amazon, for making this practice obsolete for so many of us.) I've tried to make the process better by standing confidently, striding to the register, pee stick in hand, as if declaring, "Yes, I've had sex. Lots of it, and recently. Jealous?" My false bravado fails after about 30 seconds and I cover the tests with various other purchases and a 12-pack of beer just to confuse people.
But that little test is accurate. Does bleeding affect a pregnancy test if it's early days? No. According to Central Carolina OB-GYN, unless you're on hCG, like for fertility medications, and if you've waited long enough — approximately the first day of your missed period — you're good to go. In fact, many rapid pregnancy tests completed by hospitals work on the same basic premise, and with much the same science. However, they're calibrated to note even the tiniest hint of the pregnancy hormone, and they use whole blood to do it. It only takes a drop, and the test is completed in minutes. The reason we use urine for home pregnancy tests is because no one wants to stick themselves if they don't have to. Urine just happens. Bleeding? Not so much. There's urgency involved when these tests are administered. You may require surgery or diagnostic imaging, or drugs contraindicated for pregnancy, and the doctors want a definitive confirmation one way or another. As for your home kit? No need for all the blood — just worry about your aim.
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