How pregnancy tests work
The hormone hCG is crucial because home pregnancy tests essentially work by measuring levels of hCG in a woman’s urine. Within one day of implantation, hCG levels increase by 50% every day. Some research has shown that these increases can lead to the early pregnancy symptoms of nausea and morning sickness.
Physical signs of hCG
About 11-14 days after implantation, a woman’s hCG levels are high enough to start causing early pregnancy symptoms. Some of these might include fatigue, food cravings, darkening in the color of the nipples, or gastrointestinal changes. By the time a woman experiences these symptoms, a pregnancy test may show up positive. However, hCG levels can vary, so a pregnancy test may not always be accurate this early.
How long does hCG increase?
Besides simply telling the body that pregnancy has occurred, hCG is responsible for maintaining the endometrium, which is necessary for developing pregnancy. However, in the second trimester, the placenta is developed enough to maintain the endometrium without help. That means that during the second trimester, women’s hCG levels drop once again.
How to tell if you’re pregnant
By far, the most common early sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Other symptoms might include bloating, mood swings, or nausea. Women who have had a fertility treatment should avoid taking a pregnancy test for the first 2 weeks after treatment. Although pregnancy tests are usually accurate, there is a possibility of false positives or false negatives, which can significantly increase a woman’s stress.
Surviving the 2-week wait
For many women, waiting the 2 weeks necessary before taking a pregnancy test can be nerve-wracking. Although some signs of pregnancy may be encouraging, there is an overlap between early signs of pregnancy and signs of a menstrual cycle. For this reason, women are advised to practice patience and wait the full 2 weeks until taking a pregnancy test. To help lower stress levels, women should try relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, journaling, or exercising. For more information about early signs of pregnancy and hCG, speak with a healthcare provider.
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