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Is My Home Pregnancy Test Telling the Truth?

There are a huge number of home pregnancy tests (HPTs) available now, but that wasn’t always the case: HPTs were not readily available until the late 1970’s. In 1976 the FDA granted approval for the first home pregnancy testing kit, the “e.p.t.” Since that time HPTs have become one of the symbols of women taking control of their fertility. From the public health perspective, studies have shown that use of HPTs has shortened the time it takes for women to seek care for either a pregnancy or a pregnancy termination.

How do HPTs work?

After ovulation it can take several days for fertilization to occur. The rapidly dividing mass of cells has to go through the Fallopian tube and find a comfortable spot in the lining of your uterus. Once implanted the “pregnancy hormone” hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is produced and enters the blood stream. The average time from ovulation to implantation is about 10 days (range 6-12 days). Initially hCG is present in small amounts, but in a thriving pregnancy hCG levels should double about every 48 hours.

HPTs work by testing for the presence of hCG. Thus, if a woman has ovulated later, has had a longer time to implantation, or is using a test that cannot measure very small amounts of hCG, she might end up with a negative HPT result, even though she’s in the very early stages of pregnancy.

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