HPT is a test for a hormone called hCG in your urine. hCG is a hormone produced when an egg is implanted in the uterus i.e. when you’re pregnant. Now, unless you’ve gone to the loo in the midnight, first-morning samples, as opposed to later ones, are likely to have more concentration of hCG and, so, have higher accuracy rates.
Most test kits are very economical and can be purchased in the market at the price of INR 100 onwards. Markets are now flooded with other types of pregnancy test kits that can be held directly in the urine stream and do not require you to collect urine in a container. These kits are comparatively more expensive.
No doubt, HPTs deliver quick, instant results and that’s their whole charm. But then it’s important to wait for the lines to appear on the card/strip/etc. Most kits advise you to wait for 5-10 whole minutes before taking the result as final. Some others may prescribe that you wait longer. Here is how to check pregnancy at home:
How to take the test
Many tests in the market have instructions to hold the stick in your urine stream and then place it on a flat surface for a certain number of minutes. While other tests may instruct you to place the stick in a cup of your urine and may others still provide you with a dropper. Read the instructions for your test carefully, and follow the instructions exactly. Also, It needs just 2 - 3 drops of urine to do the test.
How to read the test
- Most strips have two corners marked 'C' and 'T' on the test card. 'C' indicates a control. This line must always appear because this is the comparison line. 'T' indicates the test sample.
- If only one pink/purple lines appear, in the region marked 'C', it means that the test is negative for pregnancy. If two pink/purple lines appear, one in the region marked 'C' and the other in the region marked 'T', it means that the test is positive for pregnancy.
- In case no lines appear, then the test is invalid. Repeat the test with a new kit after 72 hours.
- If the line formed in region 'T' is faint, this could be due to low levels of hCG hormone.
- If you get a faint line, repeat the test with a new kit after 72 hours.
Faint positive line in pregnancy test – Why does it happen, what does it mean?
When you’re standing at the are-you-pregnant-or-aren’t-you threshold, a faint positive line in the T region (one of two lines needed to indicate the positive test) can further add to your confusion. Does it mean you’re pregnant? Or not? Does a faint line indicate a false positive? Well, getting a faint positive line on your pregnancy test isn’t uncommon, and this can happen due to a number of reasons.
Most commonly, a faint positive line means that you are pregnant but may have low levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) – a pregnancy hormone that home pregnancy test kits detect to give results. The hCG levels in your body increase as the pregnancy progresses, and a faint positive can be the result of taking the test too early. If you can, wait a few days and retake the test, preferably with the first urine sample of the day.
Another possibility is you waited longer than the recommended time to check the results. In such cases, the faint second line on the pregnancy test strip is known as an evaporation line. Typically, you’re meant to check the result within 3 to 5 minutes. If you wait longer than 10 minutes, the urine used for the test may evaporate, leaving a thin water line on the strip. This is often colourless or mildly pink (as a result of colour from the other line bleeding out). More often than not, an evaporation line means you’re not pregnant. Or may have done the test too early.
Unfortunately, a faint positive line can also mean that you were pregnant but aren’t anymore. This is often the result of a chemical pregnancy where a miscarriage takes place shortly after implantation. Since your body may still have some residual hCG from the brief window when you were pregnant, you can get a false positive on a home pregnancy test.
In all of these instances, the best approach is to wait a day or two, and take the test again. If you’re panicking over what the result could mean, setting up an appointment with your doctor is always the right thing to do.
While most HPTs boast of an accuracy rate between 97-99%, there can be false positives (positive results when in fact you’re not pregnant) due to some types of medications you might be taking. For example anti-anxiety medicines are known to contain hCG that could show up in the test even when you’re not pregnant.
Like most things these days, HPTs come with a use-by date as well. So, when you buy it from that store counter, make sure you’ve checked the expiry date for the kit for greater efficacy and accuracy.
Do not check just one day after having unprotected sex! It is advisable to take the test after at least 10 days of having unprotected sex with your partner. Now, there are tests that promise accuracy even four days before a missed period. You can also take it after you missed your periods. This is because the amount of hCG in your urine increases with time and so and is highest after the first day of missed periods.
Most of us treat the finer instructions as if they’re there merely for decoration. But it’s important to be extremely cautious when it comes to tests. Different kits come with different mechanisms and standards, so it is best to read the instructions twice and carefully. Using clean bowls, having a certain amount of urine to test, etc are things you should not compromise upon, if the kit specifies not to.
It is always better to do an HPT again within 21 days of unprotected sex. False negatives (tests that return negative despite you being pregnant) are not impossible and it’s better to be to test again when the hCG, if there is any, in your urine is bound to rise! Blood tests can be accurate than HPT’s so that could be another option for re-testing
Now that you know how to check pregnancy at home, remember that panic creates more problems than it solves. Sure, the news of pregnancy is a lot to take in when you aren’t prepared for it. But nothing is impossible to solve with dialogue and calm. There are many options to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Consulting a doctor is a must. Rope in your partner, friends, and loved ones too to ease the process and make a well thought out decision.
*Person in the picture is a model.
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About the author: Harish Pedaprolu is a writer and academic based out of Mumbai, India. He has been writing and editing content for the last 6 years. He has also been researching and teaching philosophy at the university level for the past 5 years. He can be reached out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.