Your TTC Strategy 8: Recognize Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Am I premenstrual, or am I pregnant?
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Newly-pregnant women may experience extreme levels of emotion, and other symptoms similar to premenstrual syndrome or PMS (bloating, cramps, backache, irritability, depression). Rapid changes in hormones are the cause of this … along with having to put up with all the other symptoms. This symptom usually resolves by the second trimester.
Records of attempts at pregnancy testing have been found as far back as the ancient Greek and Egyptian cultures. Hippocrates suggested that a woman who had missed her period should drink a solution of honey in water at bedtime: Resulting abdominal distention and cramps would indicate the presence of a pregnancy.
We have come a long way since then. By far, the most common testing today determines the presence of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which is secreted by the placenta when implantation takes place (six to 10 days after ovulation). Initially hCG levels are very low and may not be detectable by any pregnancy tests. However, the amount of hCG doubles every 36 hours and quickly reaches very high levels. Urine tests are quick (one to three minutes) but detect the presence of hCG only once it reaches a certain levels in the urine. On the other hand, blood tests (available through your healthcare provider) can take several hours, but can give the exact amount of hCG. Blood tests are often used to assess the status of the pregnancy by the rate at which hCG levels rise.
Home pregnancy tests (HPT) have become increasingly popular since their introduction in the 1970s. Most women now get confirmation of their pregnancy with home testing. As convenient as they are, there are some issues with these tests that women should be aware of so that they get the most reliable information from them.
- In a 1998 study, accuracy of the tests was determined by how well women followed the instructions in the kits. Laboratory technicians were 97.4 percent accurate, while consumers had an accurate result only 75 percent of the time.
- The best tests are capable of detecting low levels of hCG-usually, 15-25 IU/ml.
- In women who were pregnant, HPTs were positive only 90 percent of the time on the first day of the missed menstrual period. Even a week after a missed period, only 97 percent of the tests were positive. The delay in the detection of hCG is thought to be due to later implantation. Therefore, if you suspect you are pregnant, retest!
- A woman who has been given an hCG injection as part of infertility treatment may test positive on pregnancy tests that assay hCG, regardless of her actual pregnancy status.
“One-step” kits are generally considered the most convenient to use. Most can either be held briefly in the urine stream or dipped into a collection cup. Be sure to use a first morning urine sample. This is when the urine has the highest concentration of hCG. Once you start drinking water, the urine becomes dilute and testing may give a false negative result.
Once you put urine on the testing device, make sure you read it in the recommended time. If the test is read too early or too late, false negative or false positive results can occur.
Hopefully, this information will contribute to an enjoyable pregnancy!
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