An off-the-shelf test kit is a convenient way to confirm that you’re preggers. Find out if they’re reliable.

You suspect you might be preggers because your period is late, but you know it’s better to confirm your condition with a pregnancy test kit.

Ob-gyn Dr Peter Chew says most off-the-shelf test kits should produce an accurate reading if you’ve missed your period for at least five days. It’s best to pee on the stick first thing in the morning as this when the pregnancy hormone — B-HCG — is more concentrated, and hence, easier to detect.

Blood tests are more sensitive to the levels of B-HCG in your body… In urine-based test kits, however, their sensitivity can differ between brands.

By the way, you can trust those test results even if you’re taking contraceptives like pills, hormone implants, vaginal rings and intra-uterine devices (like Mirena). However, Dr Chew points out that the following factors may affect your results:

* The regularity of your periods If you tend to experience irregular periods, the test may not be able to detect B-HCG early.

* The time when the urine sample is collected The most accurate samples are from your first morning pee.

* Certain fertility-boosting drugs Meds used in fertility treatment may interfere with detection.

If you fall into the above categories, it may be best to get your doc to test your blood. Dr Chew notes that blood tests are more sensitive to the levels of B-HCG in your body — any reading more than 5mlU/ml will mean that you are pregnant. In urine-based test kits, however, their sensitivity can differ between brands.

In the first trimester, the level of HCG found in these blood tests can show if your foetus is developing well. Explaining that HCG levels will also determine if the pregnancy is viable and healthy, Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone, Singapore Medical Group’s consultant obstetrician-gynaecologist, adds, “This alleviates some anxiety in patients for whom the pregnancy is too early to be scanned.”



If you aren’t pregnant after trying for six months to a year, your doc will likely advise you to take a blood test to detect the levels of various fertility hormones your body is producing.

Dr Chew explains, “The levels of these hormones fluctuate daily and it also depends on which part of the cycle your blood is sampled [for women].”

“A high level of stress can interfere with a woman’s ovulation and hence fertility.”

Since your hubby is just as likely to suffer from infertility as you, your doc will do various blood tests on you or your hubby to test for the following kinds of hormones:

Pituitary Hormones:

1. Luteinising hormone Responsible for triggering ovulation in women and stimulating the production of testosterone in men. So, it can also indirectly affect the production of sperm.

2. Follicle stimulating hormone Required for eggs to develop in women and sperm growth in men. Dr Dharshini notes that a too-high level of the hormone may indicate problems with your ovaries’ ability to provide egg cells that are fit for fertilisation. This is because the brain needs to work extra hard to push the eggs out every month.

Ovarian Hormones (only in women):

3. Progesterone The levels of progesterone in your blood indicates whether ovulation has occurred.

4. Estradiol Dr Dharshini explains this hormone is responsible for ensuring that the womb lining is adequately thickened upon ovulation. The lining forms a healthy bed for the fertilised egg to grow. It is also a sign that a woman has sufficient female hormones in her body.

Adrenal Hormones:

5. Cortisol Dr Chew explains that cortisol is a stress hormone that can give doctors an insight into your lifestyle. “A high level of stress can interfere with a woman’s ovulation and hence fertility.”

6. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) This underdeveloped version of hormones in the body can be converted into androgen and oestrogen. Dr Chew points out that DHEA may also be involved in determining one’s sex drive.

Thyroidal Hormones:

7. T3 and T4 hormones Testing for thyroid hormones allows your doc to identify if you’re suffering from a hyperactive or hypoactive thyroid — both of which, can cause infertility.

Photos: iStock

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