Women have grown accustomed to learning in the privacy of their own bathrooms whether or not they’re pregnant. Now they can find out just how far along they are with a new home pregnancy test that hit stores this week.
The test, called Clearblue Advanced Pregnancy Test with Weeks Estimator, retails for about $16, a few dollars more than other home pregancy tests. Instead of a simple line or plus-sign to indicate pregnancy, the test will tell women whether they’re 1 to 2 weeks pregnant– right around the time when they’d expect a period — 2 to 3 weeks, or more than 3 weeks along. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration earlier this year.
While standard pregnancy tests contain a single strip to detect the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the new test contains a second strip to measure hCG levels. The hormone rises in predictable amounts during the first three weeks of pregnancy. Levels continue to rise less predictably before dropping 11 weeks into the pregnancy.
“It’s great for women with irregular periods to give them a sense of how far along they are,’’ said Dr. Laura Riley, medical director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital. “It can also be helpful for those who weren’t planning a pregnancy and didn’t pay attention to the date of their last period.’’
That said, she won’t use the test to replace an ultrasound to date a pregnancy during the first trimester. Riley routinely does this imaging test to determine an exact due date during an initial prenatal visit when her patient can’t determine from her menstrual cycle how far along she is.