Question: Why Do I Still Have a Positive Pregnancy Test If I Had a Miscarriage?
Once you have received your miscarriage diagnosis, you may be confused if you take another pregnancy test and find out that it shows a positive result. The flowing article will explain what is happening.
Pregnancy Test After Miscarriage
Pregnancy tests after miscarriage work by detecting the pregnancy hormone hCG in your urine. Normally, hCG is not present in the body unless a woman is pregnant, so if it shows up in your urine it is pretty conclusive for pregnancy. However once the baby stops growing and a miscarriage takes place, the hCG does not altogether disappear from the woman’s body completely. The level of hCG drops down to zero over a period of days or weeks, depending on what stage the pregnancy was at when the miscarriage occurred.
The average amount of time for hCG to stop being present in the body is 19 days, however this can vary based on how high the level of hCG was at the time of the miscarriage. It can take as little as a few days to return to zero, such as with an early miscarriage , or well over a month with a later loss, due to the fact that pregnancy tests usually detect even very low levels of hCG, so undertaking a pregnancy test in the days or immediate weeks after your miscarriage can still show a positive result. Its possible that you can even continue to feel pregnancy symptoms, even its a 100% certainty that you have miscarried.
However, if more than a few weeks has passed since your miscarriage, you should contact your doctor if you are still getting a positive pregnancy test. The situation may warrant your doctor to monitor your hCG level with blood tests. If your level of hCG does not drop back down to zero within a reasonable time frame, there may be a chance that there is still pregnancy tissue in your uterus and you may need a dilation and curettage procedure
If you have been sexually active, there is a possibility that you may be pregnant again, but your doctor will be able to tell you for sure one way or the other.
You can carry out a pregnancy test from the first day of your missed period. If you know your period cycle well and have regular periods you will more than likely know when this is. If you are not really sure when you are due for you next period then you can do a pregnancy test three weeks after you last had unprotected sex
When did I conceive?
For conception to take place, an egg has to be released from your ovaries (ovulation). Ovulation normally happens about 14 days after the first day of your last period.
An egg stays alive for or about 12-24 hours after it’s released. For you to conceive , a sperm must fertilise the egg within this time.
Sperm can survive for up to seven days within your body. This means, if you have sex up to seven days before you ovulate, or within a day or so of ovulating, you could conceive.
If you are planning on getting pregnant, the guidance from NICE is that, for the best chance of success, you should have sex every two to three days throughout the month. You don’t need to time it to coincide with the days when you ovulate.
About seven days after you conceive, hCG may still be present in your urine in very low levels, though this varies for each individual . Most tests need a higher level of hCG to give a positive result.
Understanding results of the test
A positive test result is more likely to be correct. If you carry out a pregnancy test on the first day of your missed period, and it’s positive, it’s probably about two weeks since you conceived.
A negative result is less reliable. If you still think you’re pregnant after a negative result, wait a week and try again or see your GP.
How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
Home pregnancy tests are accurate as long as you follow the instructions correctly.
A positive test result is almost certainly correct. However, a negative test result is less reliable. The result may not be reliable if you:
- don’t follow the instructions properly
- take the test too early
Some medications can also affect the results.
You can purchase home pregnancy tests at most pharmacies and most large supermarkets.
Doing a test
If you become pregnant, your body starts to produce the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). Home pregnancy tests detect hCG in your urine.
It is important to read the instructions carefully before you carry out the test, due to the fact that different pregnancy tests use different methods and give the results in different ways. You can carry out the test from the first day of your missed period. If you carry out a test earlier than this the results are not always accurate. If your periods are irregular, you may not be sure when this is.
Read the instructions carefully to ensure that you can do the test at any time of day. It’s normally best practice (but not essential) to carry out the test first thing in the morning as your urine will have the biggest concentration of hormones at this time.
Make sure you do not drink too much fluid before you take the test, as this can dilute the level of hCG in your urine.
Positive test results
If the test result is positive, then its almost certain that your are pregnant. Call your GP surgery as soon as possible for an appointment. Due to home pregnancy tests being so accurate, they may not repeat the test.
If you choose to continue with your pregnancy, a healthcare professional can arrange your antenatal care.
Negative test results
If the test result shows up negative, you may not be pregnant. However, negative results are less reliable. For example, if you do a pregnancy test too early, you could be pregnant, but there may not be enough hCG in your body to give a positive test result.
Pregnancy tests vary in their sensitivity (how soon they can detect hCG and what level of hCG needs to be present). You can find information on the packaging about how sensitive your test is.
If you still think you’re pregnant after a negative result, wait a week and try again, or make an appointment to see your GP.
Some medications can affect test results, including:
- promethazine – used to treat conditions such as allergies
- medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease
- sleeping tablets (hypnotics)
- diuretics (medicines that increase the amount of urine produced) – used to treat conditions such as heart failure
- anticonvulsants (medicines that prevent seizures or fits) – used to treat conditions such as epilepsy
- medicines used for infertility
If you’re taking any medication, the patient information leaflet that comes with it will tell you if it affects test results. You can also ask a pharmacist.
If your first pregnancy test result is positive, but a later one is negative or your period arrives, it’s possible you’ve had an early miscarriage. Speak to your GP or midwife for advice.
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