You pee on a stick and then a few minutes later the answer to one of the biggest questions in a woman’s life appears, seemingly almost by magic, in a small window. It reads either “pregnant” or “not pregnant.”

But how does it all work?

Not by magic, of course. There is a researched and exact science behind it all. But, to break it down: What do you need to know about pregnancy tests when you think you might be pregnant?

We’ve got the basics for you below.

How They Work: Those “magical” little sticks many women find themselves using at one time or another in their lives are actually designed to detect the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in a woman’s urine. hCG is created during pregnancy and can be detected a short time after conception. While tests differ almost as widely as women’s menstrual cycles, doctors typically agree that using a test first thing in the morning delivers the best results, because urine is the most concentrated at that time.

 While every test is different, there are plenty of similarities when it comes to using them.

Here’s a list of tips when taking a home pregnancy test:

  • Check the expiration date prior to purchasing
  • Read the instructions carefully, and make sure to follow them, step by step
  • If you’re testing before a missed period, use your first morning urine
  • Use a clock or a timer when taking your test

Where to Buy Them: You can purchase home pregnancy tests over the counter and without a prescription at most drug stores and supermarkets. You do not need to show an ID or be a certain age to purchase one. There are many different types of tests. You can read about the types of tests offered by First Response here: http://www.firstresponse.com/products

What to Do After You Test: If you get a positive result, you should contact your doctor and schedule an appointment.

If your result is negative, or inconclusive, and you haven’t missed your period yet, give it a few days and test again. If you have missed your period by a week or more and are still getting a negative result, it’s time to call your doctor. Many things other than pregnancy can delay your period, but you should let your doctor know so that you can get your body back on schedule as soon as possible.

Source: WebMD, Parents.com