OCT 24, 2017 5:48 AM PDT

How Do Home Pregnancy Tests Work?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Before the discovery of the human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) hormone and the invention of the home pregnancy test, many sexually active women across the globe were in suspense every month, wondering whether they were pregnant. While a missed period seemed to be a good indicator of pregnancy, this didn't work for many women with irregular menstrual cycles.

But the days of waiting and wondering have been dramatically cut, thanks to the home pregnancy test. The test is based on the presence of hCG, which is only produced by the placenta - an organ that forms only during pregnancy. Because the hormone is not produced under any other circumstances, the rate of getting a false positive is extremely low. In addition, First Response, a popular pregnancy test brand, boasts such high sensitivities as to detect the hCG hormone as early as six days before a missed period. These tests now allow women to have life-changing information in minutes, in the comfort and privacy of their own bathroom.
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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