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Health & Pregnancy

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Home Pregnancy Tests

Why It Is Done

A home pregnancy test is done to detect pregnancy by detecting human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine.

How To Prepare


You can buy home pregnancy test kits at the drugstore or grocery store. You don't need a prescription.

The test kits generally have plastic dipsticks or test strips and instructions that explain how to do the test. Some kits have a urine collection cup and a dipstick that you dip in urine. Midstream kits have a test strip that you hold in your stream of urine for several seconds. All kits tell you to wait a specific amount of time before reading the results.

When to test

Home pregnancy kits can be used on the first day of a missed menstrual period. But the test results are more accurate if you wait a few days longer. If you do the test as soon as you have missed a period and the results show you are not pregnant (negative results), repeat the test in 1 week if your menstrual period has not started, or have a pregnancy test done at your doctor's office or a clinic.

General instructions

For any home test, you should follow some general guidelines:

  • Check the expiration date on the package. Do not use a test kit after its expiration date-the chemicals in the kit may not work correctly after that date.
  • Store the test kits as directed. Many kits need to be stored in a refrigerator or cool place.
  • Read the instructions that come with your test carefully and thoroughly before doing the test. Look for any special preparations you need to take before doing the test, such as avoiding certain foods or limiting your physical activity.
  • Follow the directions exactly. Do all the steps, in order, without skipping any of them.
  • If a step in the test needs to be timed, use a clock. Do not guess at the timing.
  • Many home kits show color changes on a test strip. If you are color blind or have trouble seeing different colors, have someone else read the test results for you.
  • Record the results of the test so you can discuss them with your health professional.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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