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Diagnosing Early Pregnancy

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Pregnancy related image Photo: Getty Images

Pregnancy can occur if you have had sexual intercourse. Around 85 percent of couples who have unprotected sex get pregnant within a year. There is a very small chance of getting pregnant while using contraception. For example, the contraceptive pill is known to be less effective if the woman taking it is also taking antibiotics.

If you are trying to start a family or suspect you may be pregnant, the symptoms of early pregnancy are:

• A missed period

• A cramping sensation in the uterus around the time you would have had your period (although this could also mean your period is about to start)

• Tiredness even after a good night’s sleep

• Irritability, crying for no reason

• Heightened sense of smell -- Some food and drink odors may become repellent, when before you didn’t mind (for instance, the smell of fried food)

• Nausea and/or vomiting, commonly known as morning sickness, although it can occur at any time of the day or night

• Increase in breast size

• Breast tenderness

• Strange metallic taste in the mouth

• Cravings for certain foods or odd food combinations

Not everyone gets all the symptoms, some may only have one or two, and some symptoms could be attributable to illnesses.

After fertilization, the developing embryo releases a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to prevent the mother from having a period. Later, the production of HCG is taken over by the placenta.

In most cases, a simple urine test can detect pregnancy. These are available from supermarkets, chemists and online pharmacies. Your doctor can also do a test if you request this. Pregnancy tests are usually accurate from the first day of your missed period. Some brands can detect HCG five days earlier and some very sensitive tests have been known to detect pregnancy even earlier than that.

If you are having IVF treatment you may get a false positive result as the hormone HCG is used in the IVF process. Some weight loss programs also use HCG and could give a false pregnancy result.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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