Recently I was asked whether I’ve heard about women who are “addicted” to using home pregnancy tests (HPTs). As a matter of fact, yes. On online message boards and Internet chat rooms they refer to themselves as “Addicted to the Stick,” “Pee on a Stick (POAS) Addicts” and “POAS-a-holics.” These are women who are trying to conceive (TTC), usually through fertility treatments, and obsessively use HPTs to monitor their cycles.
Pregnancy tests are designed to detect the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). HCG is often called the “pregnancy hormone” because it is produced during pregnancy and is made by cells that form the placenta. HPTs detect the hormone in urine, and blood tests to detect the hormone are conducted by a doctor.
It’s easy to understand why, if you’ve been TTC for awhile, the compulsion may exist to test and re-test for pregnancy. Following fertility treatment, there’s what’s referred to as the two-week-wait (2WW), the two weeks between insemination or implantation and the blood pregnancy test. Infertility exacts an enormous toll, anxiety levels run high, and many can’t help but want to know as soon as possible (or even sooner) if this month is the month they are finally pregnant.
Here are some scenarios:
• Women start testing once or twice a day following ovulation until their period starts or they get a positive pregnancy test result.
• Women test once or twice a day in the days immediately following fertility treatment.
• Others continue to test following a positive pregnancy result (BFP – big fat positive). They can’t believe it or they love seeing the positive result time and time again, or they think it will change (indicating an early miscarriage or chemical pregnancy).
You can buy HPTs for a dollar each at many dollar stores, which enables many women to afford lots of them, and the cheap price helps them rationalize their habit. Or you can buy online at a discount if you’re buying in bulk. Some women “save money” by only using the more “expensive” well-known HPT brands when they don’t get their period and the cheaper HPT indicates a BFN (big fat negative).