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Early Pregnancy Test : Everything to Know about it
08 May 2024 | Read time 6min

Early Pregnancy Test : Everything to Know about it

What should you know about a pregnancy test?

A pregnancy test will help to determine whether you have conceived. If the pregnancy test is positive, it means you are pregnant. If the test result is negative, it means you are not pregnant. Pregnancy tests work by identifying human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone your body produces when you are pregnant, and the levels of HCG let you know how many days or weeks since conception have passed.

How does a pregnancy blood test work?

The pregnancy test is conducted on a blood sample detecting a hormone known as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG). The body produces this hormone when you conceive and a fertilized egg attaches to your uterus wall. This usually takes place within 6 days after fertilization. HCG levels increase quickly, doubling every 2 to 3 days post fertilisation. By detecting the levels of hormone in the blood, you will be able to determine how long has elapsed since you have fallen pregnant. 

What are the different kinds of pregnancy tests?

There are two kinds of pregnancy tests you may encounter - blood tests or urine tests. Over-the-counter home pregnancy tests are urine tests that can be conducted at home. 

Blood tests are sent to a laboratory for analysis and are much more accurate, providing you with a qualitative result of the level of hormone in the blood. 

  • Blood test:

Beta hCG pregnancy test also known as the quantitative human chorionic gonadotropin test, is a blood test that measures the levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in a woman's body. A small  blood sample is taken from a vein. The test detects the presence and amount 

of the pregnancy hormone in your body. Urine tests only indicate whether hCG is present or not, Beta hCG test measures the exact amount of hCG present in the blood.

A Beta HCG blood test for pregnancy can also be conducted when undergoing fertility treatments or if a doctor thinks there is a clinical reason to do so. 

Two types of blood pregnancy tests:

  • Quantitative hCG test: Also called beta hCG, it calculates the exact amount of hCG present in your blood. It can detect lower levels of hCG and the tests track problems at the time of pregnancy. The doctor uses them with other tests to detect ectopic pregnancy - when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, or when hCG levels fall quickly after miscarriage.
  • Qualitative hCG test: It will check for hCG and tell whether you are or you are not pregnant. Doctors usually order these tests to confirm your chances of pregnancy in 10 days after the conception. This test may help to detect hCG at an early stage.

When you can conduct a pregnancy test

You may perform most pregnancy tests from the first day of a missed period. If you do not know the date of your next period, conduct the test at least 21 days after you have had unprotected sex. 

As per Forbes, discover expert suggestions on when to undergo a pregnancy test

Symptoms of Early Pregnancy

  • Cramps and spotting

When sperm fertilizes an egg, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus wall. One of the earliest signs of pregnancy may be cramping and spotting. The cramps are similar to period cramps and many women mistake them and the bleeding for the start of their period. 

  • Change in breast size

Breast changes are another of the early signs of pregnancy. Hormone levels change quickly after the egg is fertilized. Due to these changes, within one or two weeks the breasts may become sore, swollen or tingle. They may feel tender to touch, appear fuller or heavier. The area around the nipples, known as areola, may even become darker. 

  • Early pregnancy discharge

Other than bleeding, you may find milky and white discharge from your vagina. This is related to the thickening of the vagina walls which begins shortly after the sperm fertilizes an egg. The increase in the growth of cells which line the vagina can lead to some discharge.

  • Missed period

The most well known symptom of falling pregnant is a missed period, however not all delayed or missed periods occur due to pregnancy. There can be various reasons besides pregnancy for missing a period. It might be you have gained or lost lots of weight. Certain hormonal issues, stress or fatigue are other possibilities. You may miss your period when you stop taking birth control pills. If a period is late and there is a chance of conceiving, you may need to conduct a pregnancy test.

  • Morning sickness

Morning sickness or nausea is a common symptom of pregnancy, although not experienced by  every pregnant woman. The exact cause of morning sickness is yet not known although pregnancy hormones are thought to generally contribute. During pregnancy, nausea can occur at any time in the day but it is very common in the morning.

  • Fatigue

Feeling tired is a normal thing during pregnancy. You can start feeling strangely fatigued within a week after fertilisation. Fatigue is usually related to higher level of a hormone known as progesterone, though other things such as – lower blood sugar, low pressure, and an increase in the production of blood. If your fatigue is related to pregnancy, make sure to adequately rest. Eat foods which are rich in protein and iron which can help offset tiredness.

Other symptoms of pregnancy

Pregnancy produces several changes in hormonal balance. This can lead to other symptoms which may include the following:

  • Difficulty passing stool

The higher levels of hormone progesterone may make you constipated when pregnant. Progesterone causes food to pass slowly through the intestines. In order to prevent or alleviate this problem, eat lots of high-fibre foods, exercise and drink lots of water.

  • Frequent urination

Many women find this starts around the sixth or eighth week after conception. Though this can occur due to diabetes, diuretics or urinary tract infections, it is most likely when you are pregnant due to hormone levels.

  • Back pain and headache

Many women experience frequent mild headaches when pregnant while others suffer from severe back pain.

  • Nasal congestion

You may suffer from a stuffy or runny nose due to an increase in the production of blood and hormone levels. This may cause mucous membranes to react by bleeding, drying out or swelling.

  • Bloating

Like the start of your period, you may feel bloated due to some hormonal changes.

  • Mood swings

These are very common during the first trimester and related to change in hormones.

  • Fainting and dizziness

These are somewhat related to dilating the blood vessels, lower blood sugar and low pressure.

Will every woman experience early symptoms of pregnancy?

As every woman is different, their experience during pregnancy will vary. Since the early symptoms of pregnancy usually mimic the symptoms you might have right before and during menstruation, you may not know you have already conceived.

Symtoms of Early Pregnancy

What you should do after a positive pregnancy test

It is important to know you are pregnant quickly after conception so that you may start to access prenatal care and make changes in your lifestyle.

Key Takeaways

The definitive way to know whether you are pregnant is to undergo a pregnancy blood test, which will detect the hCG hormone. The test is qualitative so the levels of HCG will allow you to know how many days or weeks since conception have passed. There are many early symptoms of pregnancy, including missed periods, cramps and spotting, breast changes or morning sickness, but the only way to know for sure that you are pregnant, is to undergo a blood test. 


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