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Health Library : Pregnancy and Childbirth

 

Signs of Pregnancy/The Pregnancy Test

What are the signs of pregnancy?

The signs of pregnancy vary from woman to woman. Usually the most obvious sign is the absence of menstruation (amenorrhea). However, some women continue to have bleeding even while pregnant. The following are the most common initial signs of pregnancy. However, each woman may experience the signs of pregnancy differently. These may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore and swollen breasts
  • Nausea or vomiting (also called morning sickness)
  • Frequent urination
  • Certain food cravings or aversions
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Darkening of the skin around the nipples (also called the areola)

These early signs may not positively indicate pregnancy, but may actually signal another process occurring within the body. A pregnancy test can provide more accurate results.

What is a pregnancy test?

Pregnancy is confirmed with a pregnancy test. A pregnancy test can be performed on either urine or blood. Pregnancy tests detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG), a hormone produced by the placenta about 10 days after fertilization. Levels of the hCG hormone approximately double every two days during the first 60 days of pregnancy. Pregnancy tests that are performed using the woman's blood are done by a doctor and are usually performed to obtain a very early diagnosis of pregnancy or also to confirm an at-home pregnancy test. Blood tests are very accurate and can detect pregnancy by the second week after conception.

Women can conduct an at-home pregnancy test by testing a sample of urine about two weeks after conception, or about the time a period is due. Home pregnancy tests have become more accurate in the last decade. If the test is used correctly, most home pregnancy tests are 97 to 99 percent accurate.

Always consult your health care provider to confirm a positive at-home pregnancy test with a more reliable pregnancy test and physical examination. If your at-home pregnancy test results are negative, and you think you are pregnant, you should also consult your health care provider.

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