HCG pregnancy test is used as a confirmation test for pregnancy. It is used to detect the hCG levels (qualitative) in the urine, which is a hormone produced by placenta. HCG test is also used for monitoring pregnancy, as in healthy pregnancy the level of hCG increases in the first trimester (up to 10th week). If there is abnormality in the production of Hcg, it can be indicative of abnormal pregnancy which can lead to abortion of miscarriage. The abnormalities that can be detected through this test include intrauterine pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, tumor of trophoblast layer (placental layer), germ cell tumors or testicular tumors in men.
Beta HCG test or BHCG test for pregnancy, on the other hand, makes use of blood sample, instead of urine. Like the HCG pregnancy test using urine, it also tells whether or not a woman is pregnant and, at the same time, measures the hCG level in the blood.
Differences between the Different Blood Tests in Pregnancy
Although both can detect pregnancy, they also have differences:
Urine pregnancy test is cheaper, can be bought over the counter, and can be done at home. Blood pregnancy test is more expensive and is usually done in a clinic setting.
Results show up faster in urine pregnancy tests; while you have to wait a few days for the results of your blood pregnancy test.
Urine pregnancy tests are about 97% accurate, provided you followed the instructions carefully; while blood pregnancy tests are about 99% accurate.
How to Prepare for a Urine or Blood Pregnancy Test
Urine HCG testing for pregnancy can be performed at home. All you need to do is to collect a small amount of urine in a cup (usually provided by the pregnancy test kit) and dip the stick into the liquid. Other pregnancy kits require that you use a dropper (also provided in the kit) and squeeze a number of drops into the special test stick.
Of note, if you’re going to use a home urine pregnancy test, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Do not let the special test stick sit for more than the minutes required in the instructions, or the results will become invalid. Also, this type of test is best done early in the morning when the urine is even more concentrated.
BHCG test for pregnancy, on the other hand, is done in a laboratory clinic where a blood sample will be taken from you.
What the Results Mean
It’s easy to read home pregnancy diagnostic tests that use urine samples, since the results immediately show up after a few minutes. There will be a change in the test stick, and through that, you can easily tell if you’re pregnant or not. For some tests, there will be a change in the color in the stick, or the appearance of one or two lines, or the appearance of a plus or a minus sign. The test is usually positive if there are two lines or there is a plus symbol.
As for serum pregnancy test, positive hCG (qualitative) or value between the ranges of 5 and 25 mU/ml (quantitative) means that you are most probably pregnant.
Common Pregnancy Test Questions
When can I do a urine pregnancy test?
Urine pregnancy test can already be performed a day after you missed your period.
When is a blood or serum pregnancy test performed?
This is typically performed if you have had varying results on multiple home pregnancy tests. Blood pregnancy test is also ordered if ectopic pregnancy is suspected or if the woman recently has had a miscarriage.
What are the causes of a false-positive pregnancy test?
There are conditions that result to a false-positive test: Incorrectly performing the home pregnancy kit, medical conditions such as trophoblastic tumor, or pituitary gland problem in which case a TSH pregnancy test is performed to assess the organ’s function.
LabEspy recommends Walk-In Lab, Econo Labs, Ulta Lab Tests for this test.