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Pregnancy testing

A missed period is the most obvious sign that you may be pregnant, although this is not always very reliable as many women experience irregular cycles. Periods can also be affected by stress or anxiety, often brought on through the desire to conceive. However, there are many indications that you may experience, even before you miss a period and ultimately do a pregnancy test.

Early signs of pregnancy
These are some of the indications that you might actually be pregnant. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms now is the time to find out for sure.

- Missed or late period
- Feeling nauseous or actually being sick
- Feeling constantly pre-menstrual
- Your breasts may feel tender and heavy
- You feel unusually tired or irritable
- The loss of appetite for certain foods while developing a craving for others
- A strange metallic taste in your mouth
- There may be an increase in your normal vaginal discharge, without any itchiness
- You may find that you need to pass water more often
- You may be constipated.

From the very early stages of pregnancy the placenta produces hormones and pregnancy tests work by detecting the particular hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). This is best found in the first urine you pass in the day, as this is the most concentrated.

Doctors' surgeries and pharmacies and family planning clinics offer a free pregnancy testing service but you will probably have to wait at least 24 hours for the results. Alternatively, home testing kits are readily available and are even on sale in supermarkets. Positive results from these kits are generally about 99% reliable and you can do your test as early as four weeks after conception. However, some more expensive kits can now detect pregnancy just a few days after your period is missed. If the results of your test are negative then it could be because there is not enough of the pregnancy hormone to show up in a test. If this is the case and your period still does not start, then do another test in a week's time.

It is important to make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you have confirmed that you are pregnant so that he/she can make arrangements for your antenatal care and delivery.

Home pregnancy testing kits
Testing for pregnancy could not be easier with DIY kits, and all are reputable, although quite expensive. Although these kits are very accurate they can be affected if you are having hormone injections containing HCG or IVF treatment. In these instances a false positive result can occur.

This kit claims to be able to confirm pregnancy within just a day of a missed period and includes two tests in one kit. For this test you have to urinate over the end of a plastic sampler first thing in the morning, when the pregnancy hormone is most concentrated. The sampler is then inserted into two plastic wells in turn, for ten minutes. It is then rinsed under a tap of cold water and examined to see if it has turned deep blue. If it has, then you are pregnant. If it is only light blue then you should do a repeat test in a few days.

Clearblue One Step
This is a quicker test, consisting of just one step and should also be done first thing in the morning. With the tip of the sampler held downwards it is held in the stream of urine for five seconds. The end of the sampler is then secured in its plastic cap and the two windows in the side of the sampler are examined. A thin blue line appearing in the bigger window confirms pregnancy. As with the Clearblue kit, this test also claims to be able to detect pregnancy on the first day of a missed period.

This kit is very accurate and can confirm pregnancy as early as two days after a missed period. A sample of urine is collected first thing in the morning and is mixed with a reagent in a little tube, following the instructions supplied with the kit. A plastic indicator is dipped into the urine for a variable amount of time. Usually thirty minutes if your period is two days late; five minutes if it is more than five days late. However, the indicator should not be left in for longer than forty-five minutes as this can result in a false reading. A positive result is indicated by the indicator turning pink.

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