8 Best Pregnancy Tests and How to Use Them
The suspense is killing you: Could you be expecting a baby? If you think you might be pregnant, it's time to buy a home pregnancy test! These devices work by testing your urine for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)—a hormone that your body starts producing shortly after conception.
After the embryo attaches to the uterine wall, it can take several days for hCG levels to rise enough to produce a positive test result. You can take most home pregnancy tests three to four days before your missed period—but if you test too early, you're more likely to get a false negative, where the test says you're not pregnant but you really are, says Laurence Cole, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and chief of women's health research at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. It's best to wait until after missing your period for the most accurate results.
Whichever pregnancy test you buy, take it first thing in the morning, when hCG levels are most concentrated in your urine. If the results are negative, try again in a few days if your period's still MIA. If you get a positive result—usually indicated by a faint line, a plus sign, or the word "pregnant"—chances are you're indeed expecting a baby. Wait a day or two and test again, just in case you've experienced a rare phenomenon known as a false positive. If the results are positive again, congrats mama!
- RELATED: When to Take a Pregnancy Test
Thinking about buying a home pregnancy test? Check out our round-up of the best options available today, including pregnancy stick tests, pregnancy test strips, digital pregnancy tests, and "early detection" pregnancy tests.