My Women's Health Public Service Announcement

There exists a misuse of the medical services, a service requested, and at times demanded that just does not need to occur.  What am I referring to? Going to your Physician or Urgent Care or (UGH!) Emergency room for Pregnancy Testing.  So I give you a Public Service Announcement on Pregnancy Testing!
When you peruse the feminine product aisle of your local Target, you may notice a gazillion and one different types of pregnancy tests.  And those suckers are expensive.  Noone wants to pay $12-14 on a pregnancy test, knowing they will want to test no less than 6 or 8 times to "make sure," (before they become elated or panicky)  so the best kept secret is finding out pregnancy tests are sold at THE DOLLAR STORE!

"The Dollar Store? Those can't be any good!?"
Seriously Ladies, a test, is a test.  Their sensitivities may differ by a small amount (which translates into a day or two) but they all function the same exact way. 

BIOLOGY TIME!!!
When the egg is fertilized by the sperm at the start of the fallopian tube, whether you wanted this to happen, or your friend Al Cohol is to blame, (the egg and sperm don't really care the intention) the egg travels down the interstate of the fallopian tube.  It is not an expressway, so it may take 5-8 days.

After 5-8 days, it pulls over in the 5 star Hotel Uterus for a stay.  Sometimes, all the rooms are filled by obnoxious cysts or fibroids and the egg doesn't get to hang out and you get your period shortly thereafter.

Other times, the welcome mat is rolled out, the blankets are pulled down, the lighting is dim, there are People magazines and chocolate on the nightstand and the egg buries itself into 300 count sheets and goes to sleep (for 9 months.)  IF the egg buries in, it almost immediately starts to produce hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin).  The level of this hormone starts out very low and doubles every two days.  It is in the level of how much hCG  is required to turn a test positive (2 pink lines!) where the tests vary.  But one thing does not change: THERE ARE NO FALSE POSITIVES.  (But do not look at the test after the time is up because it may look positive. Read the directions!) If it is is positive, you are pregnant. No, you are not a little bit pregnant, but pregnant.  You can take another 14 tests, but they are all going to be positive. At this point you can giggle with glee or sob with panic given your situation.

*Side note, you can have a false negative if you have tested too early.  Therefore, wait another two days (yeah, right like any woman can wait that long) and retest because remember the level of hCG is doubling every 48-72 hours.  Or, buy a gross of them and test as often as you want I guess.*


"But doctors must have way better more sophisticated tests, right?" 

Nope. It is essentially the same urine test, with a jacked up price.  You most likely have to pay a co-pay ($10-20), plus an office visit,($160) plus the lab testing ($30-80).  It will cost you about $200 to find out if life as you know it will change dramatically in nine months.   So, save yourself the money (or the bottom of line of Medicare/Medicaid) and head off to the Dollar Store.  You may have to ask for them behind the counter, sometimes they are secured safely with the smokes, but you will save yourself a ton of money. 


"But the blood tests, they are way better right? That is why I demand my provider give me one!!

 Ugh... first off, Providers would rather chew on tinfoil than be told what WebMD says you should have done when you demand it.  That aside, a blood test will show a level of hCG if it measurable in your blood.  Does it tell if you are pregnant? Yes. No. Maybe. It is a level. So it MAY mean you are pregnant, or it may mean you WERE pregnant and are now not.  Remember the hCG starts producing right away upon implantation.  But sometimes, the cleaning lady comes out and kicks the egg out of bed after a couple days because the credit card was rejected.  Implantation may not last and endure, thus the hormone may have started producing, but the provider has no way of knowing if it was higher or lower than it was yesterday, thus not knowing if it is a growing pregnancy or a failing pregnancy. 

"So fine, I'm not ever supposed to go to the Doctor?"

Yes, there are times when it is advised! But these are not it:
1. You got drunk on Saturday night, had unprotected sex, and come in Monday for a test.
2. You period was 2 or 3 weeks ago
3. You've taken 26 tests in the last 2 days and they are all positive and you "want to make sure."


You SHOULD get come in for a pregnancy test if:
1. You are having terrible low pelvic pain, and in hindsight you realize your period is late.  You may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. (The egg decided to go to sleep at a rest stop along the way instead of arriving at Hotel Uterus.)  A pregnancy test, and most likely some other testing will be done to find the cause of your pain.
2. Uhm... yeah I got nothing.

Ladies, your body is an AMAZING machine.  Take some time to learn about it, its' signs and signals and when you are fertile and not.  If you have no desire to have a child, do something about it, because we are wired to reproduce and it is your body. For the most part, reproduction is our bodies' default mode.  And should you find yourself wondering if you are pregnant, save yourself some money, your medical providers time, and head to your local Dollar Store for a pregnancy test (or 6.) 
 
A little funny from our friends at SNL!


  
*Disclaimer, I a not a physician but I sleep with one. And once many moons ago I wrote many boring papers to get my Bachelor's Degree in Nursing and had some years as an ICU nurse.*