Types of Pregnancy Tests & What To Do After Getting A Positive Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy tests are used widely, both by the public and by healthcare professionals. All the tests depend on the measurement of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in human urine. A pregnancy test is one of the most widely used and valuable tests in the whole field of clinical biochemistry. Furthermore, it is unique in that it is also used by non-professionals. One-third or more of all women buy and use a pregnancy test during their reproductive lives [1]

For the purposes of the present discussion, a ‘pregnancy test’ is defined as a procedure intended simply to reveal the presence or absence of a pregnancy. [1]

In this article, we will discuss various types of pregnancy tests and will also try to understand the steps that should be taken after getting a positive test.

Section 1: Types Of Pregnancy Tests

Home Pregnancy Tests

  • A home pregnancy test can be used on the first day of your missed period.
  • Some susceptible tests can be used even earlier than this.

These tests work by recognizing the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in human urine. This hormone is only found in women’s bodies during pregnancy. The chemical in the stick changes color when it comes in contact with the HCG hormone. Waiting times for the results will vary depending on the type of test, but of the times, it takes around 10 minutes to deliver an accurate reading. [2]

Clinical Urine Test

  • A clinical urine test is done at a doctor’s office.
  • Results of a clinical urine test can differ depending on the medical facility that you may visit. However, you can usually expect the results within a week of taking the clinical urine test. [2]

Blood Test

These tests are taken at the doctor’s office. A laboratory tests the blood to detect hCG.

There are two types of blood tests in pregnancy:

  • Qualitative hCG blood Test: This test is used to see whether any hCG is being produced in the body. It simply gives a simple yes or no answer as to whether you’re pregnant.
  • Quantitative hCG Blood Test: This test is used to measure the specific level of hCG in human blood. [2]

If the hCG level is higher or lower than expected based on how far along you think you are in the pregnancy, the doctor may order further tests. They include an ultrasound or repetition of the hCG test in a couple of days.

Quantitative hCG blood tests are more accurate because they measure the exact amount of hCG in the blood. They can detect even smaller amounts of the hormone than a qualitative hCG blood test or a urine test.

Blood tests can detect human chorionic gonadotropin earlier than urine tests. Blood tests are mostly more expensive than the home tests, and one has to wait longer for the results. Blood test results may also take more than a week, or maybe two, to be delivered. [2]

Early Symptoms Of Pregnancy

Some symptoms of pregnancy may be noticeable early on; which may include:

  • a missed period
  • a feeling of exhaustion
  • urinating more than normal
  • sensitive, swollen breasts
  • nausea
  • vomiting [2]

Section 2: What To Do After Finding A Positive Pregnancy Test?

The next step depends on two things: Whether the woman is pregnant and whether or not she intends to get pregnant.

SECTION 2.1: If The Test Results Are Positive, And A Woman Is Planning To Have The Baby:

  • Then, see the doctor before reaching the 8-week mark. [2]
  • Also, take a second test to ensure pregnancy
  • Make an appointment for prenatal care.
  • To ensure a healthy pregnancy, it is time to make an appointment for prenatal care. Each health provider has different guidelines as to when they want you to come in for your first appointment.

During the first appointment, one should expect the following:

  • Medical and social history including reproductive and gynecologic history and even family history
  • A physical examination
  • Ultrasound to date the pregnancy
  • Series of lab tests
  • Medications needed

Focus On One’s Health

  • During the initial weeks of pregnancy, things on the outside may look the same, but a lot is happening on the inside of a woman’s body.
  • The baby’s brain, organs, and body parts are beginning to form. The only way to support this development is by taking good care of oneself.
  • Women should begin taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, protein, and fiber.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of water.
  • Avoid nicotine, alcohol, and illegal drugs.
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk, raw fish, or dairy products, and deli meats.

Stub it out: If you smoke, it is the time to quit.

Say goodbye to booze: Drinking alcohol can harm the baby’s development, and therefore one should avoid alcohol altogether during pregnancy.

Take a break: Pregnancy hormones can make one tired and more stressed, so it’s essential to take time for oneself to relax.

Be caffeine wise: Caffeine is mostly found in more than just tea and coffee.

Know what medicines are safe: Consult a doctor before taking any new medication or stopping any current medication.

Start Learning and Get Aware

  • A woman’s body will be changing week to week.
  • Knowing how to identify the changes in the body and learning about what to expect can help ease anxiety and prepare one for each phase of pregnancy.
  • Books, online resources, podcasts, and magazines are all excellent ways to educate yourself about the next several months.

Exercise

Although 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day is recommended during pregnancy, most pregnant women do not meet these guidelines. Moderate intensity walking for most pregnant women is equivalent to walking 1.5-2 miles in a half-hour. [4]

Smoking

The standard smoking prenatal care guideline is to ask a pregnant woman if she smokes, and provide a brief counseling based on the Five A’s framework, and supplement it with pregnancy-specific self-help materials. Only half of the obstetricians report offering treatment to a pregnant woman who discloses smoking, and discussion of how to avoid second-hand smoke is not a standard part of current prenatal care.[4}

SECTION 2.2: If The Test Results Are Positive, But The Woman Didn’t Plan To Get Pregnant

She should ask the doctor about available options, including:

  • Ending of pregnancy
  • Carrying the pregnancy to term for the adoption
  • What to do if she wants to continue with pregnancy [2]
  • Unwanted pregnancy is not uncommon. Almost half of all the pregnancies in the US are unintended, according to a 2016 study Trusted Source [5]
  • If one has become pregnant and one either is not ready to be a parent or doesn’t want to have a baby, they do have other options.
  • One can choose to terminate the pregnancy with abortion or put the baby up for adoption.

Abortion

  • Abortion is a method that terminates or ends a pregnancy. Most of the abortions are performed during the first trimester or the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • This method is legal in the United States, but these may vary from state to state.
  • In some countries, parental consent is required for people under age 18. [5]

Costs

  • Abortion can cost from $300 to $800 for medical termination and maybe up to $1,000 or more for a surgical abortion.
  • The cost depends on where the method and how far along you are in your pregnancy.
  • A second-trimester MTP in a hospital is costlier than a first-trimester abortion in the clinic.
  • Some health insurance providers cover abortion expenses. [5]

Abortion Methods

  • A few different types of medical termination of pregnancy are available.
  • During a surgical abortion, a health provider uses suction to eliminate the fetus and placenta.
  • With a medical abortion method or the abortion pill method, one has to take a combination of drugs to end the pregnancy.
  • The method depends on personal preferences and how far along a woman had come with her pregnancy. Surgical abortions can be very well performed in the first and early 2nd trimesters of pregnancy whereas the abortion pill can be taken until the tenth week of pregnancy.
Surgical Abortion

There are 2 types of surgical abortion:

  • vacuum aspiration abortion, and
  • dilation and evacuation abortion

Vacuum aspiration is usually done during the first trimester or early second trimester of pregnancy. After one has been given medication to numb the cervix and prevent pain, the doctor will insert a tube through the cervix into one’s uterus. Suction is then applied to pull the fetus and placenta out of the womb.

In D&E abortion, the cervix is first numbed with the use of a local anesthetic. Then, a dilator is used to open the cervix. A thin tube is then inserted into the uterus through the cervix. The tube is attached to a suction apparatus that removes the contents of the uterus. [5]

Abortion Pill
  • The abortion pill method is also known as a medical abortion. This method uses two medicines — mifepristone and misoprostol — to terminate a pregnancy.
  • A drug-induced abortion can be taken up to your tenth week of pregnancy. Mifepristone works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without this hormone, the embryo cannot implant in the uterus and grow.
After an Abortion
  • It’s normal to have side effects like cramping and bleeding after an abortion.
  • An ultrasound is usually performed afterward to ensure that the abortion is complete.[5]

SECTION 2.3: False-Positive

A false positive pregnancy test can occur for several reasons:

  • Chemical pregnancy, in which the pregnancy ends shortly after the egg attaches to one’s uterine lining
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Ovarian conditions, such as cysts
  • Ovarian conditions, such as cysts

SEE the doctor if one suspects any of these factors might have given you a false positive. [2]

Chemical Pregnancy:

  • It is possible to have a positive pregnancy test even if one isn’t technically pregnant. This is called a false positive.
  • It’s sometimes caused by a chemical pregnancy.
  • A chemical pregnancy can occur if a fertilized egg, also known as the embryo, is unable to grow or implant, very early on. This may happen for a wide range of reasons.

It may be the result of various issues within the uterus, such as:

  • scar tissue
  • a congenital uterine anomaly that can cause an irregular-shaped uterus
  • Fibroids [6]

Ectopic Pregnancy

  • Sometimes a fertilized egg may implant itself outside of the central cavity of the uterus. This may cause an ectopic pregnancy to occur.
  • Ectopic pregnancies commonly happen if a fertilized egg gets stuck in a fallopian tube during its journey to the uterus.

The following situations may lead to an ectopic pregnancy:

  • Presence of scar tissue or inflammation in the fallopian tube
  • a history of past uterine infections
  • misshapen fallopian tube
  • Ectopic pregnancies may also occur in the cervix, ovary, or abdominal cavity.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include

  • nausea and sore breasts, which are also symptoms of a normal pregnancy
  • dizziness or fainting
  • pressure on your rectum
  • sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, pelvis, shoulder, or neck
  • severe pain on the side of the abdomen
  • light to heavy vaginal spotting or bleeding [6]

Recent Miscarriage Or Abortion

A woman may continue to test positive for pregnancy following the loss of a pregnancy, either due to miscarriage or abortion.

During pregnancy, human Chorionic Gonadotropin levels continue to rise as the placenta grows, doubling every few days and might peak at around ten weeks. When a pregnancy terminates, hCG levels begin to decrease, but it’s a very slow process.

The hormone can remain in the blood and urine for up to six weeks following the end of the pregnancy. It is possible to have a false-positive test until one’s hCG levels return to their pre pregnancy state. [6]

User Error

  • At-home pregnancy tests aren’t foolproof.
  • It’s essential to follow the package directions accurately.
  • Check the expiration date before using the pregnancy test.
  • Even with all these safeguards, human error can occur.
  • One of the most prominent mistakes is taking the test too early during your menstrual cycle. This may cause either a false negative or a false positive.
  • It is also essential to use the test when your urine is not diluted excessively with water.
  • Use the test when one’s urine is concentrated, like when one first wakes up in the morning. [6]

Evaporation Lines

  • Sometimes an evaporation line can also be mistaken for a positive pregnancy test. Some tests show two lines when hCG is detected and one line when hCG isn’t recognized.
  • The lines are usually of bright colors, such as pink, red, or blue. Sometimes, these faint-colored second line will appear. These lines may represent an initial pregnancy, or it may be an evaporation line.
  • It can be an evaporation line if the line is entirely colorless.
  • Evaporation lines might show up on a test you view after your urine has evaporated completely. Sometimes they’re also caused by hormonal levels that don’t represent pregnancy.
  • The best way to avoid confusion by an evaporation line is to follow the test’s timing directions precisely as they’re given. [6]

Medications

If a woman is trying to be pregnant under a doctor’s care, one may take fertility medications.

One of the synthetic hCG trigger shot, sold under the following brand names:

  • Ovidrel
  • Profasi
  • Novarel
  • Pregnyl

The hCG shot helps the follicles to release mature eggs. It may cause a false-positive reading on a pregnancy test taken at home, particularly if the test is taken very early. Other medications may also cause false-positive pregnancy tests. They include but aren’t limited to:

  • anti-anxiety medications, like diazepam or alprazolam
  • antipsychotics, such as clozapine or chlorpromazine
  • anticonvulsants, like phenobarbital or other barbiturates
  • Parkinson’s disease medications, including bromocriptine, diuretics, like furosemide, antihistamines, including promethazine, methadone [6]

Certain Medical Conditions

Rarely, certain medical conditions can also cause a home pregnancy test to give a false positive. These may include:

  • urinary tract infection
  • more severe conditions, such as ovarian cancer
  • pituitary problems (very rarely)
  • kidney disease that may cause blood or white blood cells in the urine
  • ovarian cysts, particularly corpus luteum cysts [6]

Conclusion

  • The first few weeks after a positive pregnancy test may be full of several mixed emotions.
  • Firstly, you need to identify whether or not you planned for the pregnancy or not. According to this identification, a woman needs to take further steps.
  • If the pregnancy is planned, There are certain things one may need to start working on to have a healthy pregnancy, like getting started with prenatal care and beginning to take various prenatal vitamins.
  • She should seek support whenever needed.
  • Also, there are other options available if the pregnancy was not planned, such as medical termination using surgical abortion and abortion pills.
  • Also, one needs to recheck with the help of consulting a health provider if the test result was a false positive and accordingly take further steps.

References:

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