Wellness and Health Promotion

Pregnancy and Pregnancy Tests

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How does someone become pregnant?

Pregnancy happens when sperm fertilizes an egg and a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. This process can take up to 3 weeks after having vaginal sex. After sperm enters a vagina, it can swim up to the uterus through the cervix, where it has six days to fertilize an egg. A fertilized egg then implants in the uterus. Implantation creates an opportunity for hormones to be released that prevent the uterine lining from shedding, which is why people do not have a period while pregnant.

What are symptoms of pregnancy?

Signs of pregnancy include tender breasts, nausea or vomiting, feeling tired, bloating and constipation, and a missed period. Not all of these symptoms need to be present if you are pregnant – the best way to find out if you are pregnant is to take a pregnancy test.

How do pregnancy tests work? How accurate are pregnancy tests?

Pregnancy tests check your pee for human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, which is a hormone that is only present if you are pregnant. Store-bought pregnancy tests are just as accurate as a test you could get from your doctor, including ones from dollar stores. The result on the test will be accurate 99% of the time and are the most accurate after you have already missed your period. Using expired pregnancy tests or using them incorrectly can lead to inaccurate results, so it is always important to check expiration dates and follow the directions carefully.

When should I take a pregnancy test?

You can take a pregnancy test if you have a late period and have had vaginal sex. Taking a pregnancy test too early can lead to false positives or false negatives. If your periods are not regular, a good rule of thumb is to take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after having vaginal sex.

What do I do if it's positive?

If you have become pregnant, you have some options for next steps. Unplanned pregnancies make up about half of all pregnancies, so feeling stressed is a normal response. The main options after finding out you are pregnant are giving birth and raising the child, giving birth and placing the child up for adoption, or having an abortion and terminating the pregnancy. Making this decision can be hard, and it is important to talk with your partner, family, or friends as well as a healthcare professional to discuss which option is best for you. Check out UToledo’s sexual health access map for more information about who you can talk to if you are pregnant.

Pregnancy – Linked Citations

Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. (2022). How does pregnancy happen?: Pregnancy symptoms & signs. Planned Parenthood. From https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/how-pregnancy-happens

Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. (2022). When to take a pregnancy test: Options, cost and accuracy. Planned Parenthood. From https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/pregnancy-tests

Last Updated: 6/27/22