I’ve never had sex or have any reason to assume I am pregnant but I was just wondering how a pregnancy test works. At school they usually talk about birth control and STD testing but they never talk about how pregnancy testing works and while I have seen pregnancy I have no clue how it is used or how it works.

 

It’s cool that you’re trying to get information on what they don’t cover in class. Knowing about pregnancy tests is pretty important, and luckily, they’re pretty simple, too.

Pregnancy tests work by testing for a hormone that your body only makes when you’re pregnant. That hormone is called HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), and it can be found in urine (pee). You can buy home pregnancy tests at the drugstore or supermarket. They work best if you take them at the right time — when your period is late. If you have irregular periods, or you’re not sure when you’re supposed to get one, and you’re worried because you’ve had sex since your last period, you should wait about 2-3 weeks after sex to try taking a test.

When you go to buy a test in the store, you may see a bunch of different kinds. As long as the test isn’t past its expiration date, any of these tests will be reliable. Most come with either a test stick, strip, or panel. The instructions that come with it will tell you if you need to pee in a cup and dip the stick in, or if you can pee directly on the test-stick, and will tell you how long to wait for the results and what the different results mean.

If you follow the instructions and wait until the time you’re supposed to get your period, home pregnancy tests work 99% of the time. But you can always visit a health center for a test if that’s what you’re more comfortable with.

-Emily at Planned Parenthood