UHS offers pregnancy testing and options counseling. These services are free to currently enrolled UM students and UHS Prepaid Plan members.
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What are the signs of pregnancy? The primary sign is a missed period. In addition to a missed period, there are other signs and symptoms that are due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. These include nausea, fatigue, weight gain, increased body temperature and breast tenderness.
However, a woman should not rely only upon the presence of these signs to determine if she is pregnant. Other things may cause these symptoms or she may not have symptoms. A pregnancy test is a more reliable way of determining pregnancy in its early stages so that medical attention may be sought as soon as possible.
How is pregnancy determined? In the early part of pregnancy, the body begins producing a hormone called chorionic gonadotropin or HCG. This hormone stimulates the ovaries to produce the amount of estrogen and progesterone needed for implantation of the egg into the uterine wall and for the embryo's early development.
Because HCG is present in both the blood and urine of a pregnant woman, laboratory diagnosis of pregnancy is relatively easy. A standard laboratory pregnancy test determines the presence of HCG in the urine by combining urine and test materials either in a test tube or on a glass slide. A certain reaction occurs if HCG is present, but it does not occur if there is no HCG or if there is too small an amount to react.
What kind of test is done at UHS? UHS offers a urine test. The test is usually accurate one or two days after a missed period.
Instructions for pregnancy testing: The test is appropriate if your period is due or late. Tests are available Monday through Friday but NOT Saturday or Sunday. See Get Health Care at UHS. A nurse will meet with you and you will be sent to the lab to leave a specimen. Results are usually ready within 30 minutes. If you arrive late in the day, you may be asked to return the next day for results.
How to get test results: The nurse will usually ask you to return to the waiting room after you visit the Lab. Test results are usually available within 30 minutes.
How accurate is a pregnancy test? If the urine test is "positive," this most likely means that you are pregnant. However, as with all tests, there is a small possibility of a "false positive" test, meaning that you may not really be pregnant. The pregnancy test is capable of detecting very low levels of pregnancy hormone that occur shortly after conception. Because some pregnancies terminate for natural reasons, further testing may show a disappearance of the hormone in a person who was determined to be pregnant. This is not a false positive, but it reflects the sensitivity of the test in identifying the physiological changes in the body.
If your test is "negative" and no menstrual period occurs within 7-10 days, you should repeat the test.
What about home testing kits? There are several pregnancy test kits available to women for home use. Most of these tests employ a method to detect the presence or absence of HCG that is very similar to that used by medical laboratories.
The advantages of home kits are the convenience and privacy they afford in comparison to standard laboratory care. Home tests, like pregnancy testing in a medical laboratory, can determine pregnancy as soon as one day after a missed period and results can be obtained in less than twenty minutes.
The disadvantages of home pregnancy kits are the chance of error and the cost. Possible sources of error include using a contaminated urine sample, reading the result earlier or later than specified and not using a big enough sample. Because of the possibility of error, there are often instructions to do a second pregnancy test a week later, if the results are negative. Kits cost between $8-$20 and repeat home testing may become expensive.
Where can I get help? If you are concerned about a positive result, you may want to sort out your feelings and clarify your options. You can speak with a UHS nurse about pregnancy options by calling 734-764-8320. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services (room 3100 Michigan Union) offers options counseling.
Please remember, you do have choices. If you are pregnant you may choose parenthood, adoption or abortion. We will help in any way we can, no matter what your choice, so be certain you have taken the time you need to make your decision, and do let us know how we can help.