28 April 2016
Tell-tale signs you’re expecting
When trying for a child the topic of pregnancy tests can invoke a lot of anxiety for all involved.
Furthermore, if you have been trying for some time, you are no doubt aware that if you take the test too early, the test may be negative, even if you are pregnant. So, what advice do I give women?
Understand how pregnancy tests work
Pregnancy tests detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) through your urine or blood.
The hCG is produced after the embryo implants into the endometrium, usually on or around the 6th day after the sperm and egg fertilise. This is why home pregnancy tests will not pick up any hCG if you take the test too early, even if you are pregnant.
When should I take a home pregnancy test?
If you want to circumvent false ‘negatives’ or ‘positives’, waiting until after your period is late is the best time to take a pregnancy test. You might be anxious to find out whether you’re pregnant, however allowing a minimum of a week before testing after your missed period will give you a higher degree of accuracy. HCG levels rise rapidly in pregnant women so by waiting the week you’re giving yourself the best chance to ease your anxieties.
If your cycle is irregular or you don’t keep a track of your cycle, take the test after you have past the longest menstrual cycle you usually have.
What you should avoid when taking a pregnancy test
Taking a pregnancy test too early
Many women will not get a positive pregnancy test result on the day they think is just after their missed menstrual period, even if they are pregnant, because they are testing too early.
Understanding your menstrual cycle and ensuring your period is late is important to avoid any unnecessary disappointment.
If you’re hoping to become pregnant and receive a negative result it’s difficult to stop yourself from wanting to test again that day or even the next. While this behaviour is understandable, you’re only increasing the stress you’re under. If the test is negative, try to wait at least two to three days before you retest to avoid further disappointment.
Follow instructions carefully
If you are using a home pregnancy test, it is important to read and follow the instructions carefully. Specifics vary for different tests including collection methods, length of time you need to urinate on the stick for and the symbols used to indicate whether you are pregnant or not.
Unsure of the result?
Blood tests can be done with your GP or a fertility specialist to measure the specific level of hCG in your blood.
With a blood test, we can detect very low levels of hCG that may be helpful to diagnose pregnancy and evaluate any problems during early pregnancy, such as an ectopic pregnancy or to monitor women after a miscarriage.
Pregnancy testing during IVF
If you are seeing a fertility specialist and undertaking IVF, listen to the advice from your doctor and nurses to wait until your blood test two weeks after embryo transfer.
We know the two week wait is hard, though some of the drugs we use in an IVF cycle contain hCG that can produce a false ‘positive’ if you test too early, which is why it is best to wait until the day of your scheduled blood test at your fertility clinic.
What are the common symptoms of early pregnancy?
If you are unsure about whether you should take a pregnancy test and find yourself wondering about some of the signs to look out for in the very early stages of pregnancy these usually include the following. Be aware, however, that not all women experience classical pregnancy symptoms and that their presence or absence is not an indicator of the viability or health of the pregnancy.
Your breasts may become quite tender, swollen and start to enlarge, in the early stages of pregnancy. Due to both the implantation of the embryo and your higher hormone levels breast tenderness is the most common and normal change within the body.
During the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy it’s quite common to feel overwhelmingly tired as your body is going through a significant hormonal change adjusting to pregnancy.
Nausea and vomiting
Experiencing nausea and vomiting is common in pregnancies with some women experience these symptoms as early as one week into their pregnancy. This nausea isn’t necessarily restricted to the morning with some women experiencing illness continuously throughout the day or in the afternoon.
It is important to remember that everyone is different; some women may not experience any nausea, whilst for others it can continue up to thirteen weeks and beyond.
What if I am having trouble getting pregnant?
Our first recommendation for anyone having trouble getting pregnant is to discuss this with their GP.
Your GP can perform a basic assessment including ovulation and hormone testing, and pelvic ultrasound examination for you, and a semen analysis for partner, to determine why you may be experiencing pregnancy delay. They can then recommend referral to a fertility specialist for further investigation if required.