These days it is very easy to test at home whether you are pregnant or not – you can use home pregnancy test kits, which are explained in this article.
How does a home pregnancy test work?
Home pregnancy tests (HPTs) have absorbent sticks or cards that test your urine. There are two main types of test kit – one which is a stick that you hold in your urine flow whilst sitting on the toilet (this is called a midstream urine test), or one where you collect some urine in a small container and then dip the tester in.
The tester detects human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG – a hormone of pregnancy) in your urine if you are pregnant. When a woman becomes pregnant the placenta will start producing hCG within 6 – 10 days of conception. The level of this hormone increases rapidly, doubling every 1 to 2 days until it peaks after about 10 to 12 weeks.
Most kits need you to hold the stick in the urine for 5 – 10 seconds, and will give you the result within one to two minutes.
The stick testers usually have two little windows which are empty / blank initially.The first window will show a line to indicate that you have used the tester correctly so that it has absorbed enough urine. The second window will show a line if there is hCG present and you are pregnant – this is called a positive result. If you are not pregnant, this window will be blank – this is called a negative result.
How early can I test to see whether I am pregnant?
Most home pregnancy test kits can be used from the day that your period is due. Some tests, however, can detect a pregnancy starting from 4 days before your period is due.
Each kit can detect different levels of hCG in your urine – most commonly the kits begin detecting hCG at 25 mIu/mL. At the time of writing, there is one kit on the New Zealand market which can detect hCG as low as 15 mIu/mL – this brand is called Discover and is effective from up to four days before your period is due
The levels of hCG in your urine are highest first thing in the morning when you go to the toilet after waking up. However, the modern test kits are now so sensitive that they are able to detect hCG at any time of the day. Just remember not to drink lots of fluid before taking the test – this will dilute the amount of hCG in your urine.
Remember that a negative test does not always mean that you are not pregnant – you may just have conducted the test too early, i.e. before there was enough hCG in your urine. If your period does not arrive within the next 7 days, repeat the test – it is for this reason that tests are often purchased as packs of two.
A positive test, however, is 99% accurate (but be aware that a false positive could be caused by a recent miscarriage or fertility drugs).
Home Pregnancy Test Results
When you use a pregnancy test kit there are a variety of results that you can get. Here’s an overview of the various possibilities:
- Negative pregnancy test result
The test is telling you that you are not pregnant.
If you are pretty sure you are pregnant due to the symptoms you are experiencing, then it is possible that you have got a…
- False negative pregnancy test result
This occurs when you are pregnant, but your hCG levels are still too low to be detected by the test. It is best to take the test again in a few days to a week’s time.
- Positive pregnancy test result
The test kit is telling you that you are pregnant.
You may be feeling confused by this result – for instance, you may have had what you thought was your period (but was actually spotting or an implantation bleed) and you are actually pregnant.Or, the test kit may be wrong….
- False positive pregnancy result
There are occasions when you may get a false positive result – these include times when you have had a recent miscarriage and there is still hCG in your blood, or when you have recently been on fertility drugs.
If you are really worried and your symptoms don’t seem to match your test results, then you can go to a health professional such as a GP or midwife, and have a blood test done.
Where can I buy a Home Pregnancy Test kit?
You can find pregnancy test kits in at your local pharmacy or supermarket or at an online store. From our research, the Kiwi Families team has discovered that:
- Pharmacies have the greatest range of choice but are the most expensive, although you can get helpful advice from the staff or pharmacist.
- Supermarkets have very little choice, but have the cheapest prices. However, there is no-one to give you any advice.
- Online stores have a good range of choices and cheap to reasonable prices; they give you detailed information on site and you can ask questions of their customer support services.
How much does a Home Pregnancy Test cost?
Here is a list of the home pregnancy test kits most commonly available in New Zealand with some indicative price ranges:
|Brand Name of Home Pregnancy Test||hCG Level Required||Single||Double||Method of Testing|
|Clearblue||50||$11 – 23||$15 – 30||Midstream|
|Crystal Clear||25||$15 – 18||$25 – 26||Midstream|
|Crystal Clear||25||$14 – 15||$17 – 19||Collect urine|
|Discover||15||$14 – 19||$17 – 26||Midstream|
|First Response||25||$ 6 – 8||–||Collect urine|
|QuickCard||25||$12 -17||$19 – 20||Midstream|
|QuickStick||25||$10 -15||$18 – 19||Collect urine|
The prices in the above table were found by surveying a group of online stores, pharmacies and supermarkets.
We found that prices varied dramatically; as a general overview, supermarkets were cheapest, followed by online stores, and the pharmacies were most expensive.
If you use an online store you would then need to factor in the cost of delivery and the time delay in getting your test kit.
If you want to know the result quickly, it might be better to nip down the road to your local pharmacy or supermarket!
How can I save money on home pregnancy tests?
There are a number of ways you can save money when buying a pregnancy test kit. Here are our hot money-saving tips:
- Shop at a supermarket.
- Buy a test strip or card system where you collect urine in a sample cup and dip the tester into the cup – these are the cheapest sort of testers.
- Buy in bulk – if you buy a pack of two (or three) testers, it will be a lot cheaper than buying two singles.Many women find that they need to use two test kits; for example, if you test and get a negative result because the hCG levels are low, but your period still does not arrive, then you will want to test again in a about a week when the hCG levels have risen further and are detectable on the tester.For this reason it is more economical to buy a double pack than it is to buy two singles. Also, be aware that these kits last for up to 3 years – the long expiry date therefore gives you lots of opportunities to use the second tester!
Which is the best home pregnancy test?
Most woman want to be sure that they pick the best pregnancy test available – after all, this is not the time when you want to make a mistake through using a sub-standard product!
The factors that make for the best pregnancy tests are as follows:
- Accuracy – in New Zealand the Ministry of Health (www.medsafe.govt.nz) ensures that all test kits meet the requirement of being at least 99% accurate. You can therefore be assured that any test kit you buy will be highly reliable.
- Speed– when you are worried or excited about a pregnancy test result, you want the answer quickly! All the test kits on the New Zealand market will give you the result within 1 to 2 minutes of taking the test.
- Ease of use– all of the modern test kits are very easy to use. The midstream urine ones are particularly easy, and in fact are known as easy to use pregnancy tests (EPTs). They have clear instructions, and most use a very simple “line” system that gives you a definitive negative or positive result.
- Cost– if you want to keep the costs down then it is best to buy your test kit online or from a supermarket – prices at pharmacies are much more expensive. Our research has uncovered some particularly cheap kits at Pak n Save – see the section above on Costs.
- Early use – probably the most important factor for many women is “how early can you use the test”? The kits on the market these days are known as early pregnancy test kits. This is because they can be used as soon as your period is due, or in some cases 4 days prior. The key factor here is how much hCG they can detect. Most kits in New Zealand can detect 25 mIu/mL, but at the time of writing there is one kit that can detect a pregnancy at only 15 mIu/mL of hCG – this brand is called Discover and is effective from up to four days before your period is due.
Summary of home pregnancy testing
So which is the best pregnancy test kit? Well, that will really depend upon your individual circumstances, budget and preferences. Here’s the Kiwi Families summary of the situation for you:
- If cost is important, buy a First Response kit from Pak n Save;
- If ease of use is important, pick any midstream urine test kit;
- If you want the earliest possible test, pick a Discover kit;
- If you want privacy and discretion, buy a kit from an online store.
And good luck from the Kiwi Families team – we all hope you get the test result you are hoping for!
Where can I get help?
If you don’t feel confident doing a home pregnancy test and would like some help, then you can go to your GP’s surgery or visit your local midwifery clinic (there may be charges for this to be done).
Pregnancy tests can also be done at your local Family Planning Clinic, at a reduced rate – see the website link below.
Family Planning clinics around the country provide: pregnancy testing services; advice on pregnancy options, contraception and conception; and, if necessary, can provide you with referrals for any other issues that you may have with pregnancy. The clinics are free for anyone under 22 years old, $5.00 with a community services card and $22.50 for anyone else.
Free online pregnancy test
To see a detailed list of pregnancy signs and symptoms take our Free Online Pregnancy Test.