The hook effect in pregnancy

Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results?

Learn the answers to frequently asked questions about at-home pregnancy tests.

Although it can be exciting, taking a home pregnancy test can also be stressful. That is particularly true if you are unsure of whether to believe the results. Know when and how to take a home pregnancy test. And learn some of the possible drawbacks of home testing.

If you have an inconclusive ultrasound

If an ultrasound is not looking in the right place, it may even fail to detect a developing fetus. It’s also possible that an ultrasound technician won’t spend a lot of time looking for a developing fetus if prior testing has revealed that you are not pregnant.

It’s possible that a pregnancy won’t manifest in the first trimester if you’re permitted to have an ultrasound despite a negative pregnancy test because of:

  • an irregularity in where the embryo is implanted
  • the way your uterus is shaped
  • an error on the part of the ultrasound tech
  • A cryptic pregnancy will physically end with labor and delivery that is similar to any other pregnancy. Typically, as your cervix stretches to prepare for delivery, you’ll experience contractions that feel like excruciating cramps. Your body will need to force the baby out of the birth canal once your cervix has dilated.

    For a cryptic pregnancy, labor and delivery are different because you might not be at all expecting it. This can cause intense psychological distress while it’s happening.

    You might not have had access to prenatal care during your pregnancy, which would have left you without an available doctor or midwife. Go to the emergency room right away if you are having severe cramping that feels like contractions and are unsure what to do.

    There are numerous accounts of women who assert that they were unaware of their pregnancies.

    The medical literature points to one story of a 23-year-old woman who went to her local ER for lower back pain. Once she arrived, she took a routine pregnancy test before being checked in, which revealed that she was pregnant.

    Even more unexpectedly, her doctors found she was 8 centimeters dilated and almost ready to give birth when they began to check her for an ectopic pregnancy. She delivered a healthy baby boy.

    NBC News reported on several of these “stealth birth” cases in 2009. According to their reports, one woman was rushed to the ER with what she and her family thought was appendicitis, only for the resident on call to discover that she was in the midst of labor by feeling the baby’s emerging head.

    That baby, too, was delivered and remained in good health.

    Aside from case studies and news articles, not all cryptic pregnancy stories have happy endings. The best-case scenarios feature accounts of individuals who led healthy lifestyles before learning they were pregnant.

    Sometimes a pregnancy goes undetected because the person carrying it is unable to acknowledge it. Chronic mental illness or outside factors, such as an abusive partner or a family that would not accept the pregnancy, can have an impact on these cases.

    Additionally, there are instances where people get pregnant in their early teens before they are aware of the pregnancy symptoms.

    It is statistically difficult to estimate the likelihood that a stealth pregnancy will result in a healthy birth when abuse, mental health issues, or a very young person are present, but it is safe to say that the likelihood is lower in these circumstances.

    Being cut off from prenatal care is the main disadvantage of a cryptic pregnancy. If your pregnancy is going smoothly, which you ironically couldn’t possibly know without receiving prenatal care, then this isn’t a danger in and of itself.

    One study points out that without prenatal care, your baby is far more likely to be delivered prematurely and to be underweight at birth.

    The condition known as cryptic pregnancy is real, though it’s rare and poorly understood. You should be aware that most pregnancies can be detected using the standard first-trimester testing techniques, which include blood, urine, and ultrasounds.

    If you still experience pregnancy symptoms after a negative home pregnancy test, speak with a reputable doctor about your specific situation. Your baby won’t be harmed if you wait a week or two to see if your symptoms go away, but don’t put off getting help for months.

    Keep in mind that there are resources available to you if you’re experiencing distress or believe you simply cannot handle being pregnant.

    Last medically reviewed on February 26, 2019

    When should I take a home pregnancy test?

    Many at-home tests for pregnancy make the claim that they can detect pregnancy as early as the first day of a missed period. Some claim you can take them even before that point. However, if a home pregnancy test is performed after the first day of a missed period, the results are more likely to be accurate. That’s because the placenta starts to develop soon after a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining (a process known as implantation). The placenta makes the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG can be found in blood and urine. HCG is present in the body only during pregnancy.

    An at-home pregnancy test looks for HCG in the urine. HCG levels in blood and urine quickly increase during the first trimester of pregnancy, doubling every two to three days. This indicates that if you wait a day or two after missing your period to take the test and are pregnant, there is a greater chance that the test will detect HCG and return a positive result.

    The precision of a home pregnancy test depends on the timing of ovulation. And ovulation can change from month to month. Additionally, a fertilized egg can enter the uterus at various times. That may impact the time between when HCG is produced and when it can be detected by a home pregnancy test. The results of pregnancy tests can also be impacted by irregular menstrual cycles because it can be challenging to determine when a period should begin.

    My pregnancy blood test was negative. Why did it detect HCG? Can the redo test be positive?

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