Signs of Pregnancy

There are many signs of pregnancy, but the earliest signs of pregnancy often are the same as pre-menstrual symptoms. This can be very frustrating for couples that are trying to conceive. Pregnancy signs such as nausea and cravings generally do not develop until about the eighth week of pregnancy, long after a home pregnancy test would have yielded a positive. However, the most agonizing pregnancy period may be the two weeks following ovulation but before a predictable result can be obtained with a urine pregnancy test. This period is often when women will meticulously track their symptoms and compare them with others who have already confirmed their pregnancies.

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Morning Sickness

Morning sickness generally begins around the 8th week of pregnancy and ends around the 13th week of pregnancy. For this reason, the first trimester is considered the most trying and difficult period of pregnancy whereas the second trimester is often the easiest and most fun because your energy has returned and you are not yet carrying a very large fetus.

Morning sickness is believed to be caused by high levels of circulating HCG, and indeed women who are carrying multiples (and thus have higher circulating HCG) typically experiencing more severe morning sickness. Another hypothesis is that morning sickness is a manifestation of the worries of a new mother, although this hypothesis does not have any scientific backing. Anecdotal reports suggest that women often have less or no morning sickness in subsequent pregnancies after having morning sickness during their first.

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Conception

Timing intercourse to maximize conception can be difficult unless you have some idea of your fertile signs on your date of ovulation. The process of conception occurs when an egg is fertilized by a single sperm cell somewhere in the fallopian tube. The egg only survives for about 24 hours after ovulation, so it is necessary to ensure intercourse occurs early enough before ovulation that egg viability is not lost.

The fertile secretions released via the cervix give a rough indication of a woman’s fertility. Immediately following menstruation, there are typically a few days of a dry sensation during which little or new fluids are expelled through the cervix. These are considered infertile days. Following that period, the cervical fluid begins to become more abundant, starting first as a sticky or rubbery secretion and increasing in abundance and stretchiness until it roughly resembles the consistency of semen, which itself is highly nutritive to sperm. The spectrum of cervical fluid continues to a consistency that no only nourishes and sustains sperm but also is less fibrous and impenetrable to sperm than typical less fertile secretions or dryness.

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Cost of Pregnancy Tests

The cost of pregnancy tests is often bemoaned by women who have been trying to conceive for many months and have spent hundreds on disappointing, negative pregnancy tests. The good news is that you can purchase a pregnancy test for as little as a few cents per test (about $6 for 25 on Amazon.com), but if you are not willing to handle your own urine, you might find yourself purchasing a single test for $3 – 10 dollars depending on whether you are choosing a digital version.

The most expensive drugstore brands typically include 2 or more tests per pack and no option to purchase single-use pregnancy tests. This increases the total cost of pregnancy tests, and if you are very likely to be pregnancy (e.g., if you have already missed your period), you probably do not need more than one test. However, the cost of pregnancy tests can be alleviated by purchasing your tests online in bulk and perhaps by splitting the costs with a friend.

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Get Pregnant

While many women may avoid pregnancy for years, the desire to get pregnant often comes on quickly and couples may want to get pregnant within the first month of trying. In fact, with random intercourse, a fertile couple has about a 25% chance of becoming pregnant any single cycle, and for women with longer cycles, this can translate to a long period of waiting to get pregnant.

One way to increase your chances of getting pregnant is to engage in fertility-focused intercourse. This is the process of charting your fertility signs and targeting intercourse to the 5 or so fertile days preceding ovulation. The increase in cervical fluid, which can easily be observed on toilet paper after using the bathroom, is the single best sign of fertility. As you reach your fertility peak, cervical fluid will go from being sticky and the consistency of rubber cement to a more lotiony consistency and finally to the consistency of raw egg white. Depending on their age, this egg white period may last anywhere from 1 to 5 days.

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Ovulation

Determining the date of ovulation can be very straightforward if you are one of the majority of women who have relatively regular cycles, and if you are willing to chart your fertility signs and/or use some other ovulation predictor kit. If you are less regular, have anovulatory cycles, and/or are peri-menstrual or peri-menopausal, it may be much more difficult to pinpoint the day of ovulation, although you can generally predict it within about 5 days.

Ovulation is the process when an egg is expelled from an ovary in response to hormonal changes that encourage egg maturation and release. The egg then is captured by a fallopian tube and either becomes fertilized within 24 hours of ovulation, or dies and is expelled in the menstrual fluid approximately 2 weeks after ovulation occurs.

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Cheapest Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy tests can range from pennies per test to $10 per test. With such a wide range of prices, it can be difficult to identify the cheapest pregnancy tests that still are accurate. As it turns out, even tests purchased in dollar stores measure the same hormone, HCG, and usually at the same concentration as the much more costly tests. Effectively all of these tests consist of antibody test strips that react with HCG in the urine and yield a positive result either with a pink or blue line or with a digital readout of Yes/No or Pregnant/Not Pregnant.

The cheapest pregnancy tests I have found can be purchased on Amazon.com for as little as $6.06 for 25 tests with free shipping to the continental United States. At such a low price, even the dollar store brands seem expensive, but certainly the $10/test First Response Digital Gold pregnancy test seems outrageous. What is the cause of the wide range in tests? It is mainly marketing, but also includes a little bit of added convenience.

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Pregnancy Test at Implantation

Women who are actively charting their fertility signs or are otherwise very excited and hopeful about becoming pregnant might want to take a pregnancy test as early as implantation. The at-home tests of your urine cannot detect the HCG that occurs immediately following implantation because it first enters your blood stream and then is filtered into your urine. Therefore, a pregnancy test at implantation would render a negative result, even if you are carrying a fertilized egg. Within about 3 – 4 days after implantation, you will most likely be able to obtain a positive pregnancy test from your first morning urine, assuming you are using a sufficiently sensitive test.

How Can I Tell If Implantation has Occurred?

The signs of implantation can be difficult to identify even if you are charting because they may occur in pregnant and non-pregnant charts and can only be considered retrospectively. In a minority of women, some amount of implantation spotting may occur, although if you are not charting, it is possible to mistake this for mid-cycle, ovulatory spotting. Other signs of implantation include a dip in the generally higher, post-ovulatory basal body temperatures between 6 and 8 days post-ovulation, although this “implantation dip” may also occur in non-pregnant charts as a result of normal daily temperature fluctuations. Implantation cramping has also been reported, although again, this may be mistaken as ovulatory cramping if you are unsure where you are in your menstrual cycle.

How Soon After Implantation Can I Accurately Take a Pregnancy Test?

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Negative Pregnancy Test

If, at 4 days late, you obtain a negative pregnancy test, you may have to consider whether your cycle was aberrant this month owing to stress, medication, etc. The typical woman’s luteal (post-ovulatory) phase is almost invariantly 12 – 16 days, and if the phase extends to 18 days or greater, the woman is almost certainly pregnant. However, it is possible that you ovulated late or not at all this cycle, which could contribute to a late period and a negative pregnancy test at 4 days late.

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First Response Home Pregnancy Tests

The category of First Response home pregnancy tests includes some of the most accurate, sensitive, and reliable tests on the market today. These tests are mid-stream urine tests that either develop as pink lines on a viewing strip or as a digital “YES+” or “NO-” response.

Non-Digital First Response Home Pregnancy Tests

The goal of First Response home pregnancy tests has been to offer the earliest positive results. The target market of this brand are women who are trying to conceive and want to know if there efforts are successful as soon as possible. Although these tests also work perfectly well for women who have an unplanned pregnancy, of course, they tend to be more expensive than most other brands because of the sensitive technology they employ (and because of good marketing).

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Unplanned Pregnancy

Even if you are using oral birth control pills, barrier methods of birth control, or an intra-uterine device, you may still experience an unplanned pregnancy if you are not abstaining from intercourse. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a huge number of factors to consider.

  • Are you in a stable relationship, both financially and emotionally, that is capable of supporting a pregnancy and a child? Do you have health insurance with a sufficient maternity rider? If not, do you have a way to obtain insurance with maternity benefits? The immense costs of prenatal care, including monthly (and later weekly) visit; tests for hypertension, preeclampsia, iron deficiency, gestational diabetes, and fetal defects; and the costs of delivery and a hospital stay can make even the most financially secure person’s stomach turn. Even a typical, uncomplicated birth can cost thousands in hospital bills, particularly if you opt for anesthesia. In any case, maternity insurance is virtually essential.
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Help Getting Pregnant

Couples who have been trying to conceive for months or even years without success may begin to look to message boards, books, or even medical intervention for help getting pregnant. Even a couple with normal fertility may only have a 25% chance of pregnancy following random intercourse in any given cycle. This is because the woman is only fertile for approximately 6 days per cycle, whereas the man is fertile during the entire cycle. If intercourse is not timed during the correct fertile window, pregnancy will not be achieved, and a couple may begin to wonder if one or both of them is infertile.

There are countless websites offering help getting pregnant using various herbal remedies, lifestyle changes, and alternative techniques such as acupuncture. Although these may increase your fertility—particularly if you quit smoking or drug use or attain a healthy weight, for instance—poor timing of intercourse still will prevent pregnancy achievement. As months go by without a pregnancy, stress between a couple can mount. Although stress will not prevent a pregnancy per se, it can delay ovulation and make it more difficult to time intercourse, thereby affecting pregnancy indirectly. Therefore, it is important for a couple to relax and learn the best tips for help getting pregnant.

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Ovulation Detection

There are a few different ways to detect ovulation. Although the ovulation detector kit is probably the most widely used method, it is not necessarily the most accurate method.

The Ovulation Detector Kit
Many of the companies that make and market home pregnancy tests also manufacture ovulation detector kits that use the same basic technology but a different antibody. Ovulation detection is achieved by trying to pinpoint the surge in LH (lutenizing hormone), which is the last hormone to peak before ovulation occurs. A positive result from an ovulation detector strip is obtained when the test line is equal to or greater in intensity compared to the control line. This point is crucial, because as compared to pregnancy tests that are positive even if the test line is very faint, ovulation detector strips are considered negative if the test line is absent or faint. A positive result on an ovulation detector strip suggests that ovulation is imminent and will occur within 12 – 48 hours. In most women, ovulation occurs by 36 hours.

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Fertility Home Tests

One of the most important indicators of female fertility is the “ovarian reserve,” which can be estimated from the FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) level in the woman’s urine. A fertility home test measures urine FSH and provides an indication of fertility.

Each woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, and as such, the number of eggs are depleted with each menstrual cycle as a woman ages. With each cycle, one or more eggs are released via ovulation, and depending on the length of your cycle, your ovarian reserve may be reduced by 24 eggs every year.

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Infertility

Infertility is one of modern medicine’s greatest struggles, and it continues to be a source of frustration and heartache for many couples. It is equally possible for either the female or the male to be the cause of a couple’s inability to get pregnant, therefore, it is very important to consider the types of infertility that you may experience and what therapies are available to you.

Female Infertility – Using Charting to Identify Infertility

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DNA Testing During Pregnancy

If a women finds herself pregnant after intercourse with more than one partner in her fertile period, she may elect to have a paternity test at birth. However, it is also possible to conduct DNA testing during pregnancy, which may be important if a paternity suit is ongoing or if the woman had an affair and needs to know which partner fathered her child.

Although it is generally safe to perform a paternity test during pregnancy, there is a small risk of miscarriage because the process involves sampling the amniotic fluid or the chorionic villi to determine the genetic makeup of the fetus. Any time the fetal milieu is invaded, it is possible for the pregnancy to abort, and this must be carefully considered before one elects for DNA testing during pregnancy.

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False Negative Pregnancy Test

False negative pregnancy tests can be very common for women who insist on testing their urine for HCG extremely early in the luteal phase. Following ovulation, at least 6 days must elapse for implantation to occur, maybe more. After that, the fertilized egg begins to output HCG, but it cannot immediately be detected in the urine because it needs to reach sufficient concentration first. Finally, depending on the sensitivity of the test, it may be necessary to wait for a missed period to avoid a false negative pregnancy test.

Because of today’s marketing that encourages women to test for pregnancy as early as physiologically possible, the prevalence of false negative pregnancy tests is on the rise. Although home pregnancy tests are now more sensitive than they were 20 years ago, there is still a minority of the female population that still would obtain a false negative pregnancy test even with a very sensitive test. This is because implantation does not occur on the same day for all women, and in some cases, it may be almost 2 weeks until HCG is produced, even at undetectable levels.

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Home Pregnancy Test

For couples who are trying to conceive and want to test for pregnancy in the comfort of their bathrooms, the home pregnancy test is ideal. Although a blood pregnancy test in a clinician’s office could deliver accurate results a few days earlier, a home pregnancy test can be taken any time of day from home and without the pain of a needle prick.

How Does a Home Pregnancy Test Work?

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Earliest Pregnancy Test

What Is the Earliest Pregnancy Test?

Following implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterine lining, the hormone HCG is released into the bloodstream. It can be detected in the blood within 4 days of implantation, which usually occurs about a week after ovulation. As HCG circulates in the blood, and the blood is filtered by the kidneys, this hormone begins to build up in the urine stream. About 4 days after HCG can be detected in the blood, it can be detected in the urine. This corresponds approximately to the day the menstrual period would be expected. Therefore, the earliest pregnancy test is a sensitive blood test, which can detect HCG even before it reaches detectable concentrations in the urine.

Earliest Pregnancy Test for Urine

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Early Pregnancy Tests

Who Uses Early Pregnancy Tests?

With many women waiting until their 30s or later to conceive, there is a greater demand for an early pregnancy test that provides accurate results almost as soon as implantation could occur. The desire for an early pregnancy test stems from many months of trying to conceive while charting fertility signs, such as basal body temperature and cervical fluid. Women who are charting can determine their day of ovulation rather precisely, and these women often have a harder time waiting for their menstrual period to be late; they would rather get the result of an early pregnancy test to confirm within one week of ovulation whether their pregnancy attempts were successful.

How Do Early Pregnancy Tests Work?

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