There are several methods of confirming pregnancy in a woman by checking different hormone levels. Most commonly used hormone is the beta subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Beta HCG is a hormone which is produced by the human placenta.
Right Time To Take Pregnancy Test After Missed Period
The tests include urine HCG test and serum HCG test. Taking a pregnancy test after a missed period should be timed correctly to detect the pregnancy accurately. To detect beta HCG in both urine and serum the test should be performed 1-10 days after a missed period in a woman who was having regular cycles.
When this time is converted to the period of gestation, it can be stated as 5 weeks. Since the placental implantation takes place at a period of gestation of 3-4weeks, the test should be timed at this particular period. Quantitative serum assays can detect HCG levels as low as 1 mIU/ml.
But urine HCG strips need it to be >10 mIU/ml to detect since it is a qualitative assay. Serum HCG is the best early test to detect pregnancy. If the serum HCG level is checked serially, doubling of the HCG level in every 48 hours will support more towards a viable fetus.
Because the amount of beta HCG produced by the placenta increases at this rate with the period of gestation in a viable fetus. If the test is done before missing a period, at a period of amenorrhea of 3 weeks there is a possibility of urine HCG test to become negative.
The urine HCG test can be performed at home by the woman herself. If the couple is expecting a baby, it is best to note the day of her last menstruation. In this way, the woman can detect the missed period correctly without any delay. Even though the serum HCG is more sensitive than urine HCG, most women prefer urine HCG since it is simple and non-invasive.
Reasons To Take Pregnancy Test After Missed Period
The basis of performing a pregnancy test after a missed period should be clearly understood. Menstruation is a physiological process happening in every woman’s body. In the menstrual cycle, there are two phases. They are called as follicular phase and the luteal phase. During the follicular phase, the ovum matures and ovulates on the 14th day of the cycle. Then the luteal phase starts. During this phase, the uterine endometrium thickens in order to accept an embryo if the ovum gets fertilized by a sperm.
But when there is no fertilization, the endometrium starts to shed off on the last 3days of the cycle. This shedding off of the endometrium is what the woman experience as menstruation. When the ovum meets a sperm inside the woman’s reproductive system the endometrium will continue on thickening to accept the embryo and the woman will experience a missed period.
Pregnancy Test After Missed Period Preparation
When the couple is accepting a baby, the woman should start noting down her menstrual periods. If they are regular it is quite easy to detect a missed period. But if it is irregular she needs to note down the dates for a couple of months. In irregular cycles, it is recommended that she should perform the urine HCG test on 36 days after her last period or 4 weeks after the sexual intercourse. There are urine HCG test kits, which are available to buy. Initially, the woman should read and understand the instructions mentioned in the kit.
There is a specific duration of time to wait before reading the result. This duration might vary among different brands. It is recommended that the woman should perform this test on an early morning urine sample. Or at least she should not have voided urine for 4 hours duration. A woman should be advised not to drink too much fluid to increase the amount of urine, because it may dilute the concentration of HCG present in urine. She should dip the kit/strip in urine and wait for sometime as mentioned in the instructions. A woman may find a control showing what a negative test result will look like.
Understanding the principle behind taking a pregnancy test after a missed period and the correct timing of the test will give the results more accurately. But there is always a possibility of false negativity of urine HCG test, in conditions like ectopic pregnancies. A woman should be advised to seek medical advice when she is sure about missing her periods but still, the test comes as negative. Women like that should undergo a serum HCG test to detect suboptimal levels of HCG. Early detection of pregnancy will allow the woman to have comprehensive antenatal care, which will lead to a healthy delivery.