A pregnancy test kit typically comes in a box with nothing more than the instructions and the actual test inside. The test itself may look like a flat, plastic stick with a lid on one end. Almost all pregnancy tests have result windows near the top, and the way the results display varies depending on the brand. In some brands, there is a digital readout which says "pregnant" or "not pregnant." Other brands show the results with either a plus or minus sign; plus indicates pregnancy and minus indicates no pregnancy.
The quickest way for a woman to confirm her pregnancy is by using a pregnancy test kit. They are available at the majority of drugstores, supermarkets, department stores, and online retailers. These kits are usually inexpensive and very easy to use. Most tests are 99 percent accurate, although it is possible to receive a false positive or false negative result if the instructions are not followed accurately. Waiting one week after a missed period to test should provide the most dependable results, although some brands advertise being able to detect pregnancy three days before the period is expected.
Using a pregnancy test kit typically involves removing the plastic cap from the stick and passing the end through the urine stream. Other types of tests require a woman to deposit her urine into a cup, and then dip the test end of the stick into the urine. After this, it is usually necessary to wait for three to five minutes to see the results in the display window. If the results are very faint or hard to read, or if a digital test fails to give results, the test was probably taken too early. Women who receive unclear results should wait a few days before trying another pregnancy test kit.
These kits determine results by measuring the levels of hCG, also known as human chorionic gonadotropin, in urine samples. Women who are pregnant generally have high levels of this hormone, and these levels increase rapidly during the first month. A blood test can also detect this hormone, but most doctor's offices use pregnancy test kits similar to what are sold in stores for confirming pregnancy. Women who need to know if they are pregnant sooner than a urine test can detect should be able to find out with a blood test. The exact amounts of hCG can be determined with a blood test, and doctors often give them early in pregnancy to women at high risk for complications.