How using blood pregnancy tests helps navigate your pregnancy

July 25, 2023

Anyone trying to conceive knows how frustrating it can be to wait for the right timing to take a pregnancy test. After deciding to grow your family and begin your pregnancy journey, the last thing you want to do is wait. Both urine and blood pregnancy tests measure a specific hormone your body makes when you’re pregnant—human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).


Standard urine pregnancy tests are the ones you’re probably most familiar with—bought over the counter and used to detect that specific hormone. Urine tests can be helpful initially as they are qualitative, meaning they do or do not detect hCG. However, blood pregnancy tests (Beta hCG) measure the amount of hCG present in the blood.


Blood pregnancy tests are more sensitive

Blood pregnancy tests tend to be more sensitive and may be able to detect smaller amounts of the hormone. This means a blood pregnancy test may be able to identify a pregnancy [or likely pregnancy] earlier in your first trimester.


During your first trimester, your hCG levels increase quickly. While it is recommended to wait 14 days after your last cycle before using a urine pregnancy test, a blood pregnancy test is sensitive enough to detect rising levels of hCG as early as six days after conception.

Blood pregnancy tests are more thorough

A blood pregnancy test is quantitative, meaning it measures the amount of hCG more precisely. A urine test essentially detects if higher amounts of hCG are present, while a blood test can identify the concentration of hCG in your blood.


If you take a urine pregnancy test and get a “faint line” as a result, that could mean that it’s too early for the hCG in the urine to be reliably detected by the test strip. Color intensity of the test results of a urine pregnancy test line can vary. In contrast, a blood pregnancy test provides the measurement of hCG levels, which offers you more information about which specific stage of pregnancy you’re experiencing.


Blood pregnancy tests can detect some abnormalities

It is important to know that blood pregnancy tests can also detect abnormal levels of hCG. This can give you and your healthcare provider valuable insights into both the health of your reproductive system as well as your fetus.


Any abnormal results should be shared with your healthcare provider to discuss further testing if necessary. Your provider may use a blood pregnancy test to identify certain risk factors, such as an ectopic pregnancy, and to monitor an at-risk pregnancy more closely.


Further testing after confirmation


Once you have confirmed you’re pregnant, there are other tests you can take to help support your health pregnancy journey. For example, both folate and vitamin B12 are vitally important for a fetus’s development—some expectant parents take an additional blood test to confirm their bodies are making enough during pregnancy.


If your healthcare provider has determined some risk due to hyperthyroidism, they may order a thyroid test to help navigate a potentially challenging pregnancy.


Test to confirm

Blood tests like these can provide invaluable, specific insight into the overall health of you and your pregnancy. Speak with your healthcare provider today about using a blood pregnancy test to help confirm your pregnancy and prepare even more for your entire pregnancy journey.