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Ask Dr. Cullins: Pregnancy

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    How do I find out if I am pregnant?

    You need to take a pregnancy test to tell if you’re pregnant.  Home pregnancy tests detect pregnancy by identifying the presence of a certain hormone — human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).  HCG is the hormone that starts being released when a fertilized egg implants in the lining of the uterus and pregnancy begins.  HCG can be detected in the blood and urine of a pregnant woman.  Some of the newer home tests can detect pregnancy from a urine sample as early as a few days after a missed period. 

    If you use a home pregnancy test, which are tests done on urine samples, you must follow directions carefully and correctly.  To be sure about whether you are pregnant, it is best to visit a qualified family planning professional for a pregnancy test and pelvic exam.  Depending on your situation, the medical professional will determine whether to use a urine or a blood test — or both.  (Usually the first step for the medical professional is a urine test, which may be able to detect pregnancy earlier than the one you bought in the store could.)

    If you are pregnant — whether or not you want to continue the pregnancy — you need to have medical care and counseling as soon as possible. To schedule a confidential appointment with the nearest Planned Parenthood health center, call toll-free 1-800-230-PLAN. Your call will connect you to the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.

Published: 10.26.06 | Updated: 11.28.07

This column is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have a medical problem, please call toll-free 1-800-230-PLAN for an appointment with the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.

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