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Signs of Pregnancy/The Pregnancy Test

What are the signs of pregnancy?

The signs of pregnancy vary from woman to woman. Usually the most obvious sign is when a woman has a missed period. But some women continue to have bleeding even while pregnant. The following are the most common first signs of pregnancy. Each woman may experience the signs of pregnancy differently. These may include:

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Sore and swollen breasts

  • Nausea or vomiting (also called morning sickness)

  • Frequent urination

  • Certain food cravings or aversions

  • Bloating of the belly

  • Darkening of the skin around the nipples (also called the areola)

These early signs may not mean a woman is definitely pregnant. They may actually signal something else happening within the body. A pregnancy test can provide more accurate results.

What is a pregnancy test?

Pregnancy is confirmed with a pregnancy test. A pregnancy test can be done on either urine or blood. Pregnancy tests look for the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG). This hormone is made by the placenta about 10 days after fertilization. Pregnancy tests that use the woman's blood are done by a healthcare provider. They are often done to get a very early diagnosis of pregnancy or to confirm an at-home pregnancy test. Blood tests are very accurate. They can find pregnancy by the second week after conception.

Women can do an at-home pregnancy test by testing a sample of urine about 2 weeks after conception, or about the time a period is due. Home pregnancy tests have become more accurate in the last decade. If the test is used correctly, most home pregnancy tests are 97% to 99% accurate.

Always talk with your healthcare provider to confirm a positive at-home pregnancy test. Your provider will do a more reliable pregnancy test and physical exam. If your at-home pregnancy test results are negative, and you think you are pregnant, you should also talk with your healthcare provider.

Medical Reviewers:

  • Daniel N Sacks MD
  • Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
  • Heather Trevino