Pregnancy testing options
- General Information
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Testing for pregnancy is simple using home pregnancy testing kits, which give results that are about 99% accurate.
Female hormones cause the growth and release of eggs for fertilisation during the women’s reproductive cycle. Once an egg has been fertilised by sperm, a chemical, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), appears in the urine. Home pregnancy kits test for the presence of this chemical.
Although hCG is a sure sign of pregnancy, it can still be present after a miscarriage or termination for up to eight weeks, or for about four weeks after giving birth. Fertility drugs can also cause ‘false positive’ pregnancy test results. Alcohol, painkillers, antibiotics and oral contraceptives do not affect pregnancy tests.
- a woman is most fertile around ovulation, which usually occurs mid-cycle
- an egg can only be fertilised for around 12 to 24 hours after ovulation but sperm can live for up to five days
- a woman may conceive if intercourse takes place up to five days before ovulation, and for 24 hours afterwards
- on average it takes couples more than six months to conceive, while one in six couples takes more than one year
- conception can take longer in women aged over 35, or in women who smoke
Early signs of pregnancy
- breast changes, such as fullness and tenderness, are often the first signs of pregnancy
- the nipples also enlarge as the pregnancy develops
- shorter, lighter bleeding may occur early during pregnancy in some women, and sometimes when their period is due
See Your Pharmacist or Medical Professional
- if you are trying to become pregnant, to discuss diet and other health issues
- if you take regular medicines and are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant
- if have missed a period but have had negative pregnancy tests
- if you have had a positive pregnancy test, but have not yet seen a doctor
- if you are having abdominal pain or have developed period problems, such as heavy bleeding
- if you have unprotected sex and are worried about becoming pregnant (you can see a pharmacist, doctor, Family Planning Clinic or sexual health clinic to ask about the emergency contraceptive pill)
Tips for pregnancy testing
- always follow manufacturer’s instructions on the pregnancy testing kit
- always test a ‘mid-stream’ urine sample; this means to pass some urine into the toilet first, then collect your urine sample for testing, then finish passing urine into the toilet
- hCG is at the highest concentration in urine first thing in the morning
- pregnancy testing can be carried out in two ways; some test sticks are held in mid-stream urine, others need a mid-stream urine sample collected in a container provided by the manufacturer, which is tested with a ‘dip and read’ stick
- urine samples should be tested immediately after collection
- if the test is negative or inconclusive, even though you may have missed a period, check you followed the instructions correctly and repeat the test according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- if the second test is negative and you still have not had your period, see your doctor
e.g. Clearblue One Step, Clearview HCG, Crystal Clear Pregnancy Test, Crystal Clear Midstream Pregnancy Test, Discover Onestep Early Result Pregnancy Test, Discover Pregnancy Test (Dip & Read), Dotest Confirm Midstream Pregnancy Test, First Response In-Stream Pregnancy Test, First Response Pregnancy Test, Fortel One Step Early Pregnancy Test, OvuPlan In-stream Pregnancy Planning Kit, OvuPlan Pregnancy Planning Kit, Pregnosis, Pregnosis Clear
- different brands of pregnancy tests can be used at different times of your menstrual cycle; see product directions
- each test has different instructions on how long the test stick should be held in urine, and when to read the results. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure test results are accurate
e.g. Clearplan One Step, Discover Onestep Pregnancy Planning Kit, First Response Pregnancy Planning Kit, Fortel Ovulation Test Kit, OvuPlan In-stream Pregnancy Planning Kit, OvuPlan Pregnancy Planning Kit
- home tests are available to check when eggs are released from the ovaries (ovulation); this is the time when a woman is most fertile
- ovulation is controlled by another hormone called luteinising hormone (LH). LH levels rise about 24 to 36 hours before ovulation. Home ovulation tests measure LH in the urine, indicating when a woman may be most fertile
Nutritional supplements for pregnancy
e.g. folic acid (Blackmores Folate, Nature's Own Folic Acid 500 mcg)
e.g. folic acid with calcium, iron and other vitamins and minerals (Elevit )
- the Department of Health and Ageing advises women to take extra folic acid for at least one month before getting pregnant and for the first three months of pregnancy. This aids the baby’s development and helps prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Some women need higher doses; ask your pharmacist
- some women may need supplements of calcium, iron and zinc to keep themselves and their unborn baby in good health during pregnancy. Calcium rich foods, such as dairy products, help increase calcium intake
- check with your pharmacist or doctor for individualised advice about nutritional supplements for pregnancy
Planning for pregnancy
- some women who wish to start a family may need a rubella (German measles) vaccination. Even if you have been vaccinated you should check you are still protected before becoming pregnant
- a well balanced diet can provide a pregnant woman and her unborn baby with most nutrients needed
- extra folic acid is advised before getting pregnant and during the first three months of pregnancy
- listeriosis is a dangerous infection for pregnant women and unborn babies, and can be caused by bacteria in some fresh or unprocessed foods, such as soft cheeses, cold meats and seafood
- toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite, is also dangerous in pregnant women; it is caught through close contact with infected cats, or uncooked or poorly cooked meat
- wash vegetables and utensils well, cook meat thoroughly and reheat food until it is very hot
- stop drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes or marijuana, and reduce caffeine intake from coffee, tea and cola drinks, as they can affect healthy development of your baby
- for more detailed information or support, call the National Pregnancy Support Helpline 1800 422 213
Last Reviewed: 06/05/2009
Pregnancy testing can be done from around the time that your period is due, and involves testing your urine for the pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
If you are trying to get pregnant, ovulation testing can help you work out when you are likely to ovulate and find your most fertile days. There are also natural ways of predicting the best time to conceive.
There are several factors that can affect a woman's fertility. Treatments are available for many of the causes of female infertility and assisted reproductive technology such as IVF can help some women get pregnant.
Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that implants outside the uterus (womb). Most ectopic pregnancies occur in one of the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy is a serious condition.
Getting pregnant is easy for some women, but for others it can be a difficult. Women are most fertile between 20 and 24 years of age, after which fertility declines.