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Pregnancy test: know which type to turn to to solve your doubts

Menstrual delay, in women with regular cycles, is the first sign of suspicion of pregnancy. However, it is worth noting that there are several clinical signs that are noticeable by women, such as breast pain, darkening of the areola, swelling, drowsiness, mood change, which allow the suspicion of pregnancy even before the absence of menstruation.

Faced with the suspicion of pregnancy, a question arises: what type of test to use? In addition to the options of pharmacy tests and blood tests, some women start to question whether so-called home pregnancy tests are also effective.

Types of pregnancy test

There are two types of tests best known to detect a pregnancy: the pharmacy test, which is done with urine, by the woman herself (at home), and the blood test, which is usually requested by the doctor and carried out in a laboratory.

There is also the possibility of betting on home tests before resorting to another type, but, it is worth mentioning, they do not have proven effectiveness. Below you can find the main information about the different types of tests:

pharmacy test

Faced with the suspicion of being pregnant, women tend to run to the pharmacy to buy a pregnancy test.

Nilka Fernandes Donadio, gynecologist, obstetrician, specialist in Human Reproduction and Technical Director of Cetipi (Center Specialized in the Comprehensive Treatment of Infertile Patients), points out that pharmacy tests are sold without a prescription and cost between R$10 to R$100. “The so-called pharmacy tests evaluate the presence of the hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), produced by the placenta, in the woman’s urine”, she highlights.

In pharmacies, you can find a huge variety of test brands. And, depending on the brand, one test can be more sensitive than the other: the most sensitive can detect levels of 20 IU/l of hCG in the urine, while others detect levels from 50 IU/l.

However, unfortunately, sensitivity is not usually specified on the test package. In general, it is believed that the most sensitive tests are the most expensive, but this is not a rule.

Nilka Fernandes Donadio highlights that some recommendations must be followed for the use of these tests: observe the validity, the integrity of the packaging and, mainly, the time of menstrual delay. “Performing the test early, even before the delay, can lead to a false negative, as the concentration of the hormone in the urine is lower compared to the concentration in the blood and, in addition, the levels of hCG slowly rise as the pregnancy develops, so , if performed too early, the concentration of the hormone is still so low that it becomes undetectable for pharmacy tests”, explains the gynecologist and obstetrician.

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It is generally recommended to wait at least 15 days after fertilization, that is, after sexual intercourse, to perform this type of test.

Reading the result is very simple: “after placing the strip in contact with the urine and waiting for the time indicated by the manufacturer, the presence of two lines indicates a positive result, even if the second line is very light”, explains doctor Nilka.

If the drugstore test is positive, the woman is virtually certain to be pregnant. But, as gynecologist Nilka points out, there are, although very rare, “false positives”, which occur due to the production of this same hormone in cases of ovarian tumors.

β-hCG test

The blood test called beta-hCG detects pregnancy earlier, even before menstrual delay. In general, it is recommended to wait 9 to 12 days after fertilization to perform it.

Nilka Fernandes Donadio explains that the β-hCG test can be qualitative or quantitative:

  • Qualitative: it only says whether or not the hormone is present in the blood;
  • Quantitative: tells how many units of the hormone were detected in the blood.

“The quantitative test makes it possible to assess the normal course of pregnancy, which at the very beginning is not yet visible on ultrasound. The amount of hormone should double every two days. If this does not occur, it can indicate an unviable pregnancy, which will not evolve properly, leading to abortion, or even a pregnancy in the tubes, called ectopic”, explains the gynecologist and obstetrician.

Nilka Donadio points out that, especially among women undergoing fertility treatment, the doctor’s request for two quantitative BhCG ​​tests, two days apart, is very common. “Because among patients with fertility problems, the incidence of ectopic pregnancy is much higher,” she explains.

The price varies widely from place to place, but in many cities the β-hCG test costs between 25 and 35 reais.

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home pregnancy test

Suspecting that they may be pregnant, usually due to missed menstrual periods, some women even resort to home pregnancy tests, even before buying a drugstore test.

On the internet you can find some recipes that promise to confirm or not the pregnancy. Here are some examples:

1. Urine boil test

Boil the urine in an aluminum container and then observe: if the urine boils similar to milk – it forms a kind of “cream” – the result is POSITIVE. If the boiling is similar to that of water – it just boils – the result is NEGATIVE.

2. Needle test

Urinate in a container and put a needle inside it. Then it is necessary to close the container and wait for eight hours. If the needle changes color, the result is POSITIVE.

3. Bleach test

Urinate in a container and add bleach. If the urine changes color or fizzes, the result is POSITIVE. Otherwise, the result is NEGATIVE.

4. Chlorine test

Put the urine in a disposable cup and add chlorine. If it turns dark, the result is POSITIVE. If the mixture remains with the same color, the result is NEGATIVE.

However, it is worth mentioning that none of these tests has scientific proof. Such homemade recipes can be regarded as popular beliefs rather than reliable tests. But the truth is that, in many cases, they serve to reduce the woman’s anxiety.

The tip, then, is: if you decide to do a home test, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, do not fully believe and only in the result indicated by it. The way forward is to opt for a pharmacy test and/or blood test as soon as possible.

Transvaginal ultrasound to detect pregnancy

According to Nilka Donadio, the best evaluation of pregnancy, as well as its evolution, is by transvaginal ultrasound.

“Usually, the ultrasound image of pregnancy is visible from five weeks, that is, after a week of delay in women with regular cycles. Remember that gestational age is calculated from the date of the last menstrual period, not conception; therefore, five weeks of pregnancy represents a week of delay”, highlights the doctor.

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Sometimes, explains Nilka Donadio, the pregnancy test in the blood is positive, but you still don’t see the image of the pregnancy on the ultrasound. “It is mandatory to visualize the gestational sac from a BhCG ​​of 700IU, if it is not visible, the possibility of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the tubes) must be ruled out”, she says.

“On ultrasound, at five weeks we see the gestational sac, as a dark and round spot inside the uterus, later, a little later, the so-called yolk sac appears and the embryo itself and, at seven weeks, the presence of the so-called beat fetal heart rate is observed”, highlights the gynecologist and obstetrician.

The price of transvaginal ultrasound varies greatly from clinic to clinic. It is covered by most health plans, however, it is important to check with your plan administration if this is the case for you. Having to pay for the exam, you can have an expense of 60 to 150 reais.

Pregnancy exams by SUS: how to get it?

According to information from the press office of the Ministry of Health, the offer of rapid pregnancy tests by the SUS is part of the Rede Cegonha strategy, which consists of a care network that aims to guarantee women the right to reproductive planning, as well as humanized during pregnancy, childbirth and after the baby is born.

Rapid pregnancy tests are available at Basic Health Units (UBS), spread across the country, and work through urine collection. In this way, the woman who needs this service must get information at one of the UBS’s in her city about how to proceed to perform the test.

One of the advantages of the rapid test is the fact that the result is presented shortly after the urine collection.

Also according to information from the Ministry of Health, the Stork Network is currently present in more than 5,000 municipalities in all states of the country.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that, regardless of the type of test chosen to detect pregnancy, as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed, the woman should seek medical guidance and follow-up for prenatal care as soon as possible.

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