Every pregnancy test works by measuring the levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. The body produces this hormone after a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of your uterus. Generally, this happens about 6 days after fertilization, which will cause your hCG levels to climb rapidly. If you are pregnant, your hCG levels will double every 2 to 3 days. Currently, there are two ways to measure hCG hormone levels to detect pregnancy – through a urine or blood test. In this article, we discuss the differences between a POC (point-of-care) pregnancy blood test and at-home urine test.
At-Home Pregnancy Tests
The majority of at-home pregnancy tests involve urinating on a prepared chemical strip, which will measure the hCG hormone levels in your urine. These tests are available in all good pharmacies and don’t require a prescription. Generally, there will be sufficient hCG in your urine about 14 days after ovulation. However, you’ll need to wait a few minutes before a positive or negative result appears in the plastic window, so make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging. Be aware that different brands may have different directions, so always read the supplied information carefully.
According to most at-home pregnancy test kits, the results are about 99% accurate when used correctly – which is about the same as a POC pregnancy test. However, if you take an at-home pregnancy test fewer than 14 days after ovulation, you could get a “false negative.” This means that the test will show that you are not pregnant when you actually are.
POC Pregnancy Blood Tests
Your doctor can also perform a POC pregnancy blood test by taking a small sample of blood. The doctor will analyze this sample in a lab to check the hCG levels in your blood. These tend to only be used in special circumstances, like when a woman is undergoing fertility treatment, or if the doctor suspects there may be complications.
POC pregnancy blood tests are slightly more sensitive than urine tests. This means that they can provide a more accurate measurement earlier in the pregnancy. Furthermore, this blood test will not only detect whether the hormone is present, but it will also measure how high the hCG levels are. The doctor may use this to compare hCG levels as pregnancy progresses. For example, if hCG levels are very high, that may indicate an increased chance that the mother is carrying twins. However, in contrast to at-home tests, the results of a blood test will take a few hours rather than a few minutes to arrive.
Which is Right for Me?
In the majority of cases, an at-home pregnancy test is sufficient, delivering reliable, fast, and convenient results. However, if you are undergoing fertility treatment, your doctor may need to perform a POC pregnancy test to ensure implantation has been successful. In either case, your doctor will be able to advise you on the right course of action.