Should I Get a Pregnancy Blood Test?

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Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

“When you do take the home pregnancy test, it doesn’t quite seem real. But when you see the baby and the heartbeat on the ultrasound, it’s so incredible.”

~Danica McKellar

You feel pregnant and a store-bought home pregnancy urine test just gave you a big fat + or || sign.

So, it appears that you are expecting…

You have most of the signs – i.e. frequent trips to the loo, extreme tiredness, an insatiable hunger, irritability, a queasy stomach, a headache that just won’t stop – and no period. You have to be pregnant, right? Well, it definitely looks that way, but you won’t know for sure until you have a pregnancy blood test, also known as a pregnancy beta or quantitative test.

The truth is almost all pregnancies officially begin with a pregnancy blood test to check your hCG hormone levels. During this time, your doctor may also order additional tests, depending on your age, health, possible complications, and/or other risk factors. While at your prenatal appointment, your doctor will also inquire about your immunizations, STDs, health history, etc.

The Rh-factor

Your doctor may also order a blood type test to see if you have an Rh-factor (Rh-positive). If you do not have the Rh-factor, you are Rh-negative. A baby inherits his or her Rh-factor from his or her biological father. So, if the biological mother is Rh-negative, but the biological father is Rh-positive, the baby will also be Rh-positive.

This Rh incompatibility (the mixing of Rh-negative and Rh-positive antibodies) can cause a host of problems for the mother and baby during the pregnancy. However, if it is determined that you have the Rh-factor (Rh-negative), you can get an Rh immunoglobulin (RhIg) injection (until the 28th week of pregnancy) to prevent a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or fetal abnormalities. It is important to note that most women are Rh-positive, in which case, there is no problem.

About the pregnancy blood test

A pregnancy blood test is similar to a home pregnancy (urine) test in that it looks for specific hormones that only occur when you are pregnant. However, testing your blood for these hormones is more accurate than peeing on a stick. A pregnancy blood test can detect hCG (with nearly 100% accuracy) as early as 7 days after conception.

This test can also determine how much hCG you have in your body. This is important because knowing this information can help your doctor *estimate* your due date. A woman’s hCG levels increase as the pregnancy progresses, so if your levels aren’t where they should be for a specific week or trimester, it can alert your doctor that a further examination is warranted (i.e. possible pregnancy complications or even the presence of multiple fetuses). Keep in mind that, your hCG levels should double every two weeks during early pregnancy.

If you’d like to order a test today, check out this pregnancy blood test to move forward.




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Longer Version


Est. Reading Time: 5 minutes

Feeling queasy, exhausted, moody, and bloated? When was your last period? Haven’t thought about it? Well, at this point – you probably should because you may be pregnant. Should you run to your local drugstore and pick up one or a dozen early pregnancy tests? It depends. If you are unsure that you’re pregnant than, yes, by all means, run to the store and pick up some instant pregnancy tests. However, if you take a home pregnancy test and it appears to be negative, you should probably get a pregnancy blood test to ensure the results are accurate.

The truth is home pregnancy (urine) tests are tricky. More specifically, the dye tests, especially the blue ones, can be hard to decipher. Is that a line or + or not? There was a line or + there before but now it’s gone… How dark should the line or + be? How long should you wait to read the results? What if a line appeared after the 10-minute mark – could I still be pregnant? I feel pregnant, but the test says I’m not…

As you can see there a million ways to misinterpret pregnant dye tests.

So, now what?

Well, I suggest you get a pregnancy blood test from your gynecologist or internist, especially if you are experiencing traditional pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, severe fatigue, mood swings, aches and pains, increased hunger, food aversions, bloating and/or a missed period. You can also get pregnancy blood tests at most walk-in clinics.

A pregnancy blood test, also known as a beta pregnancy test or a quantitative pregnancy test, can detect pregnancy hormone levels between 5-10 mIU/mL. So, in most cases, it can definitively confirm or rule out a pregnancy. This test relies on your hormone levels to determine if you are early in your pregnancy, midway or late in your pregnancy – or not pregnant at all.

Take the guesswork out of determining if you are pregnant

All that is required is a trip to a doctor’s office and a quick stick to ascertain if you are expecting. Knowing this information will help you properly prepare for a new baby if you are, prepare to become pregnant if you aren’t, or go on about your life if babies are not on your brain.

It’s painless and it’s more decisive than a urine test.

It is important to note, however, that if you take a blood test before your pregnancy hormones (hCG) have had a chance to “kick-in” it may look like you are not pregnancy, when in actuality you are. This can feel like a slap in the face, if you desperately want to be pregnant or false relief if you don’t. Thus, I recommend waiting at least a week after a missed period to get a blood pregnancy test.

If you have irregular periods and are unsure of how long it has been since your last period – that’s perfectly okay too! Even if it’s too early to see if you are pregnant, if you are having noticeable pregnancy symptoms, your doctor will most likely ask you to come back in for another pregnancy blood test in a week or two to see if your hCG hormone levels have increased or doubled.

So, should get a pregnancy blood test? The answer is always “YES!”

Actionable Steps


Check out the top 5 reasons for getting a pregnancy blood test.

1

A pregnancy blood test is more sensitive than a home pregnancy test or a doctor’s office urine test.

Honestly, pregnancy blood tests are more sensitive than urine-based tests – from home or at a doctor’s office. So, even if you get a positive on a “pee test,” there is a chance it may be inaccurate. In other words, you may have misread the result (i.e. “line eye”) or your hCG hormones may have not registered on the test (i.e. you waited too long to read the result, you didn’t wait long enough, or didn’t have enough of the hormones in your urine at the time).

And, believe it or not, sometimes, urine tests are just plain wrong. Hey, it happens and it can be devastating when the expectant parents learn that the woman is not pregnant. Pregnancy blood tests, on the other hand, can detect HCG earlier (between 6 and 8 days after ovulation) than home pregnancy tests. This can be extremely beneficial for women, who are trying to conceive with the help of fertility treatments like IUI or IVF.

Order a pregnancy blood test today.

2

A pregnancy blood test can give you the exact amount of hCG in your body – at the time of the test.

A pregnancy blood test not only gives you the exact amount of hCG in your body – at the time of the test, it can also provide you with other important pregnancy data (i.e. your due date, Rh status, fetal abnormalities, and possible future pregnancy complications). A urine test cannot do that.

3

It’s quick & easy.

The good news is getting a pregnancy blood test is super quick and virtually painless. And, guess what? There’s no prep work involved! It is the same as any other blood test you take, for instance, when you get lab work for a physical.

During the test, a lab tech simply collects your blood by inserting a needle (ask for a “butterfly needle” if needles scare you) into your vein. The blood is collected in vials with different color tops. The test only takes a few minutes. Another plus? It is possible to get a blood test result back in 20 minutes, although it can also take a couple of days.

Note: You may feel a slight pinch as the needle goes into your vein. That is normal.

Moreover, getting blood drawn makes some people feel lightheaded, tipsy, or dizzy – that is also normal. Simply stay put until the feeling passes. If you feel as if you are about to faint, ask for some orange juice or water to sip on until you feel better.

4

A pregnancy blood test is most likely covered by your health insurance plan.

The good news is that pregnancy blood tests are covered in most health insurance plans. They typically fall under “routine prenatal care,” but check with your insurance provider for how much your specific plan covers. If you do not have health insurance or if your plan does not cover prenatal care 100%, you can expect to pay between $35 and $67 for the test. Although, the average cost of a pregnancy blood test is $49.

Note: It is important to inquire about the costs before you arrive at the appointment, because the last thing you want is a surprise when you go to check out after your appointment.

5

It can help detect a possible issue with the pregnancy.

Pregnancy blood tests not only test hCG levels and for the Rh-factor, it can also rule out fetal abnormalities and pregnancy complications and determine if your pregnancy is “high risk” for a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. It can even help determine if you are having one baby or multiple babies! In these instances, a sensitive blood test can be crucial for you and your unborn baby.

Ready to get one? Get a pregnancy blood test.

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About the Author


Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn


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