There’s something about pregnancy that arouses a peculiar sixth sense – almost like you know what to expect and yet, seek all-important validation from a store-bought pregnancy test (because there’s a certain magic in seeing those elusive double pink lines).
In an age of insta-everything, over-the-counter (OTC) home pregnancy tests can be just the antidote to rising anticipation in the days after a missed period, offering lightning-fast results in the privacy of your home.
While the procedure for taking a home pregnancy test differs from brand to brand, all the tests in the Indian market are functionally similar, checking for an elevated level of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone in urine. Why HCG? Well, because HCG is a unique pregnancy hormone that is only produced on the fertilisation of an egg. In short, HCG = Pregnancy.
Before this turns into Biology 101, let’s flip the coin and look beyond the science at how pregnancy can affect you physically and emotionally. Here are some clues you should watch for before taking a pregnancy test at home.
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Hallelujah! But before you grab that stashed-at-the-back-of-the-closet pregnancy test and go on a pee spree, don’t. A pregnancy test is best taken a week after your missed period, not only because this is when the results are likely to be most accurate, but also because the week after a missed period is when a pregnancy holds the maximum risk.
If you can’t contain your eagerness, most pregnancy tests in the market work accurately when taken on the first day of your missed period, with some claiming to work even sooner. That said, how do you know when it’s your first day? If your periods are regular, start charting your dates.
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If not and it’s been more than 30 days since your last period, you might want to give it an extra week before taking a test. Also, watch your flow if you think you might be pregnant. Some women experience light spotting about a week before their expected period. This is called implantation bleeding and is indicative of an egg burying into the uterine lining.
Along with slight spotting, implantation can also cause a milder version of menstrual cramps. This pain could be a sign that the egg is cosying itself inside the uterus, creating a soft nest and displacing some tissue around it.
In the event of persistent or intolerable pain never hesitate to contact your treating doctor as one needs to confirm that pregnancy is in the right place & is not an ectopic pregnancy.
Breast tenderness is also a symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but you may notice some subtle differences. For one, during pregnancy, your breasts may seem heavier and appear larger due to augmented blood flow. Your nipples may also become more sensitive and your veins may look darker and more prominent.
However, breast tenderness isn’t a foolproof symptom, so if that’s all you’re feeling, take a few more days before making a trip to the pharmacy.
If you’re just not feeling like yourself and find that you’re nauseous, feverish, exhausted, are repulsedby certain foods or are urinating more often, you may be onto something. Take a test if you’ve passed your expected period date! As the weeks slide by, some of these symptoms may amplify, before receding again towards the end of your first trimester.
Contraception doesn’t come with a 100% guarantee. Condoms may break and birth control pills may be forgotten. And you may get pregnant. If you suspect that your contraception may not have held through and you relate to any or all of the symptoms mentioned above, test, test, test!
Even with contraception, you have a chance of getting pregnant every month, so it’s important to be in tune with your body and watch for any signs that seem out of the ordinary. Taking a home pregnancy test early on in your pregnancy can help you manage your prenatal needs better. If you do happen to be greeted by a positive result, schedule a consultation with your doctor right away and give your baby the best chances at life.