As the name suggests, a pregnancy test will let you know if you are pregnant. Pregnancy tests work by checking your urine for the presence of a hormone called human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG). This hormone is only found in the body during pregnancy.
A woman’s body produces this hormone after a fertilised egg has attached to the wall of the uterus.
A chemical in the pregnancy test stick will change colour when it comes into contact with this hormone. Waiting times for results can vary, but most take about 10 minutes to provide an accurate reading.
Tests are usually more accurate when you take them after you've already missed your period and can be taken from the first missed day. However, you should always follow the manufacturer’s Patient Information Leaflet (PIL), which will tell you how to get the most accurate test results. A pregnancy test will be less accurate if it's expired or if you don't use it the right way.
Getting pregnant – also known as conception – occurs when a man's sperm fertilises a woman's egg. Some women find this process happens fairly quickly, but it can take longer for others.
It is estimated that for every 100 couples trying for a baby, 80 to 90 will fall pregnant within 1 year. The rest may take a little longer, and some couples may need help to conceive, such as IVF.
The first important factor to take into account when trying to get pregnant, is to know about the male and female sexual organs, and to understand how a woman's monthly menstrual cycle and periods work.
The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of a woman's period (day 1). Sometime following the period, the woman will ovulate. Then, 12-16 days after this, the next period should begin. The average cycle takes 28 days, but can vary.
Pregnancy is far more likely to happen when having sex within a day or so of ovulation. This normally happens about 14 days after the first day of your last period, if your cycle is around 28 days long.
An egg survives for about 12-24 hours after being released and for a woman to fall pregnant, the egg must be fertilised by a sperm during this time.
Sperm can live for around 7 days in a woman's body. Therefore, if you had sex during the few days leading up to your ovulation, sperm will have travelled up the fallopian tubes to wait for the egg to be released.
It's difficult to know exactly when ovulation happens, unless you are practising natural family planning, or fertility awareness. If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for an extended period and find that even ovulation kits have not helped, booking an appointment with a fertility specialist could be the next step.
However, a good tip for if you want to get pregnant is having sex every 2 to 3 days throughout the month if you do not want to time having sex only around ovulation.
If you find it uncomfortable purchasing one from a shop or your local pharmacy, you can buy a pregnancy test online from Medical Specialists® and have it delivered to your home the very next day.