Home pregnancy tests: Are they reliable?


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Home based pregnancy tests are widely used because they are a faster way to know whether the woman is pregnant or not. This is because many of them work from the first moment of conception and it is therefore not necessary to wait for a menstrual delay, as with pharmacy tests.

However, such tests have no scientific evidence and therefore they should not be considered a reliable method to confirm or rule out the possibility of pregnancy.

Of all pregnancy tests done at home, the most reliable will always be the pregnancy test that is bought from the pharmacy. It works by identifying the presence of the beta hormone HCG in the woman’s urine. This is a type of hormone that is only produced during pregnancy. However, if you need a quick test that will produce results fast, consider taking a HCG blood test, which can be done 8 to 11 days after unprotected sexual intercourse.

The following are the most commonly used pregnancy tests, the theory behind each and why they do not work:

1. Online pregnancy tests

Online testing is very common, but it is only a way of checking the risk of being pregnant. It should therefore not serve as a definitive test or replace the pharmacy or laboratory test.

This is because, online tests are done based on generic pregnancy symptoms as well as risky activities. It neither evaluates each woman individually, nor measure more specific factors such as the presence of pregnancy hormones in the urine or blood.

Below is an example of an online test that was developed for the aim of evaluating the chances of a woman being pregnant. It indicates when there is greater need to take a pregnancy test such as pharmacy or blood test:

1. Have you had relationships without using a condom or other contraceptive method in the last month?

2. Have you noticed any pink vaginal discharge lately?

3. Do you feel sick or feel like throwing up in the morning?

4. Are you more sensitive to smells (cigarette smell, perfume, food)?

5. Does your belly look more swollen, making it harder to keep your pants tight?

6. Do you feel that your breasts are more sensitive or swollen?

7. Do you think your skin looks more oily and tends to have pimples?

8. Do you feel more tired than usual, even to perform tasks you did before?

9. Has your period been delayed for more than 5 days?

10. Did you take the morning-after pill up to 3 days after the unprotected relationship?

11. Have you had any pharmacy pregnancy tests in the last month with a positive result?

2. Bleach test

According to popular theories, this tests works and is more reliable because bleach is able to react with the beta hormone HCG, similar to what happens in pharmacy testing, leading to foaming. Thus, if there is no foaming, then the test is considered negative.

However, there is still no study to confirm this effect. According to some reports, the reaction of urine with bleach can lead to foaming even with men’s urine.

3. Boiled urine test

The boiled urine test is based on the theory that boiling proteins, as in the case of milk, causing foaming. Thus, since the beta hormone HCG is a type of protein, in case the woman is pregnant, an increase of this protein in urine will cause foaming, indicating a positive result.

However, in reference to the same theory, there are other conditions that can increase the presence of proteins in the urine such as urinary infection or other urinary diseases. For this reason, the test could still indicate a positive result, even if the woman was not pregnant.

In addition, if there were traces of cleaning products in the equipment where the pee was boiled, foaming could still occur due to chemical reactions with the product, obtaining a false positive.

4. Vinegar test

This test was created around the concept that the pH of a pregnant woman’s urine is usually more basic that that of a non-pregnant woman. Therefore, the idea is that, when vinegar, which is more acidic, comes into contact with urine, a reaction will take place leading to colour change that will indicate a positive pregnancy result.

However, vinegar does not always change colour when mixed with a basic substance. Moreover, the woman’s urine may still remain acidic, and this would prevent the reaction from taking place.

5. Needle test

For this home test, a needle is placed inside a urine sample for a few hours then you observe of there is any change in the colour of the needle. If the needle changes colour, it means the woman is pregnant.

The theory behind this test is the oxodation of metals, Oxidation of the metal takes place when the needle is prolonged contact with other substances such as water or in this case, urine, and eventually it will rust. However, this process takes several days before the rsults are seen.

In addition, the oxidation speed may vary greatly depending on other factors aside from contact with urine. These include ambient temperature, needle wear or exposure to sunlight, which are not accounted for in this home based pregnancy test.

6. Swab test

The swab test is an unsafe method and it involves the woman rubbing the tip of the swab on the vaginal canal near the cervix so as to identify if there is any blood. This test should be done a few days before the expected date of menstruation, as it serves to identify if menstruation is flowing down. Therefore, if the swab gets stained with blood, it may indicate that the woman is not pregnant and that menstruation is coming.

While this may seem like a reliable method, it is not fully recommended. This is because, rubbing the swab on the vaginal walls can cause injuries that may end up causing bleeding hence spoiling the results. The cotton swab may also drag bacteria into the vaginal canal, near the cervix hence causing infection.

What’s the best pregnancy test?

Of all pregnancy tests that can be done at home, the most reliable test still remains to be the one bought from the pharmacy. This is because it assesses the presence of the beta hormone HCG in the woman’s urine, a hormone that is only produced in cases of pregnancy.

However, despite being confident in the test, the pharmacy test may not detect pregnancy when it is done too early or when it is done in the wrong method. The ideal time to perform the pregnancy test is when menstruation period delays for more than 7 days or more. However, it may still give a positive result from the first day of menstruation.

Women who may want to know if they are pregnant before the menstruation delay should take blood tests that identify the amount of hormone HCG and it can be done 8 to 11 days after having unprotected sex.


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