Last updated on August 26, 2021.
Missed a period or experiencing pregnancy symptoms? Suspecting that you are pregnant but not sure which pregnancy test to take? In this article we cover the mechanisms, options, costs as well as some common queries you may have when getting a pregnancy test.
There are two major types of pregnancy tests available in Hong Kong — the more accessible urine test and the blood test which is only provided at clinics or hospitals.
How do pregnancy tests work?
Over-the-counter pregnancy tests generally rely on detection of a hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is detectable in urine only if you are pregnant. HCG is often referred to as the “pregnancy hormone” as it is secreted by the placenta after a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, a process also known as implantation.
While the pregnancy test cannot measure the exact concentration of HCG in your urine, it can detect whether a minimum amount of the hormone is present.
When to take a pregnancy test?
According to the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, pregnancy tests can generally be used 1–2 weeks after a missed period for the most accurate result. Most pregnancy test kits on the market suggest to be used at least 8 days after sexual intercourse, if you do not want to wait until your expected period.
Typically, it takes 7–12 days for an embryo to successfully implant into the uterine lining, only after which would the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) level in urine become detectable. For that reason, if the test is taken too early, the result may not be accurate. More tests may be needed in subsequent days to confirm your pregnancy.
It is also important to know that in the early stage of pregnancy, testing with the first morning urine may produce a more accurate result as it usually contains a higher concentration of HCG. Yet for women pregnant for a longer period of time, the HCG level in urine generally remains stable throughout the day.
Refer to our doctor-reviewed article on pregnancy symptoms to find out more before purchasing a pregnancy test.
How to use a pregnancy test kit?
At-home pregnancy tests are commonly available in 3 formats: test strips, midstream test and digital test.
With test strips, you collect your urine with a clean cup and dip the test strip in the sample for at least 5 seconds. Lay the strip flat on a clean and dry surface and read the results in 10 minutes.
With midstream tests, you need to urinate directly on the absorbent on the testing stick for a few seconds, then place the stick on a flat, dry surface. Wait for the result to appear. The exact waiting time (usually a few minutes) is indicated on the kit’s instructions.
With digital tests, samples can be taken in either way (with collected sample or midstream). Replace the cap and lay the test stick flat on a dry surface. Then read the results when the countdown on the digital window finishes.
– Read the instructions provided carefully and ensure that you are not taking any medications that may affect the test results.
– Store the test kits in a cool place and observe its storage life, which usually ranges from 2–3 years. Be sure to check the expiration date on the kit before using it as it may produce an inaccurate result.
– Do not drink extra water purposely for the urine test as extra water content may dilute the HCG concentration present in urine, leading to possible errors in the test.
– After opening the packaging of the test kit, perform the test within 10 minutes to avoid any errors caused by absorption of moisture.
Where to find pregnancy test kits in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong, pregnancy test kits are widely available in local pharmacies, supermarkets and online shopping websites.
This home pregnancy test kit can be used 5 days before an expected period. The result is visible as clear plus (+) or minus (-) marks in 2 minutes.
Price: $39.6 at Watsons, $39.6 at Mannings, $40.9 at Parknshop, $88/2 pcs at HKTV Mall
The digital test also provides a Weeks Indicator which shows the number of weeks since conception (i.e. 1–2, 2–3 or 3+). Results are displayed in texts (“Pregnant”/ “Not Pregnant”).
Price: $71 at Mannings, $89 at Watsons, $91.9 at Parknshop, $188/2 pcs at HKTV Mall
Watsons One Step Pregnancy Test
It is a midstream test with over 99% accuracy when used after the first day of the expected period. Results ready in 1 minute as red lines.
Price: $55.9/ 2 pcs at Watsons, $55.9/ 2 pcs at Parknshop
Mannings Pregnancy Test Strip
The test is sold in forms of test strips exclusively at Mannings. Results visible as lines in 3 minutes.
Origin: United States
Price: $21/ 2 pcs at Mannings
Mannings One-Step Pregnancy Test
A midstream test stick which provides results in 3 minutes in form of lines.
Origin: United States
Price $21 at Mannings
Mentholatum Dotest Pregnancy Test Stick
Hold the absorbent in the urine stream for 2 seconds and wait 1 minute for the result, which will be displayed as lines (2 lines for positive and 1 for negative).
Price: $48 at HKTV Mall, $59.9 at Watsons, $59.5 at Mannings, $59.9 at Wellcome$87.9 at Parknshop
* All amounts are in HKD and were last updated in April 2021. No responsibility is accepted for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions. It is always best to check and make sure the information is still up-to-date.
How to read the results?
The test result is often simple to interpret and should be visible within 1–2 minutes in the result window:
– Two lines / plus symbol (+): positive
– One line / minus symbol (-): negative
– No line / no result: error
If two faint lines appear, it is likely due to a low HCG level, which in turn likely points to a positive result. For a more accurate result, take another test with a new test kit in a few days.
How accurate are the results of pregnancy tests?
Most of the pregnancy tests on the market indicate a 97–99% accuracy rate for tests taken after a missed period. However, it is also important to note that the time and manner in which the test is taken may affect accuracy, possibly giving “false-positive” or “false-negative” results in the following circumstances:
- Too much water intake before the test, which may have diluted the HCG concentration in urine
- Taking the test too soon after conception (i.e. within a week)
- Any misuse of the testing kit
- Having had a childbirth or a miscarriage in the last 8 weeks
- Existing health conditions: the HCG level may be high in patients with lung cancer, ovarian cancer or lupus erythematosus
- Pituitary HCG secretion due to perimenopause
- Evaporation lines left by the dried urine may lead to misjudgment of the result
- Undergoing treatments for infertility or In-vitro fertilization, in which HCG is often given as injections
- Any misuse of the testing kit
Owing to the possible errors in home-testing kits, it is recommended to undergo comprehensive testing with a doctor.
What about a pregnancy blood test?
Hospitals and medical clinics can provide a blood test for pregnancy. Similar to the at-home urine test, the blood test also relies on the HCG level to indicate pregnancy. The advantage of a blood test is that it is generally more accurate even around 10 days after fertilization takes place. Blood tests are also used by doctors to keep track of your pregnancy especially if you have a history of early miscarriage or fertility issues.
In the event that you are getting negative results from a self-test even a few days past a missed period, you may consider taking a blood test for more accurate indication. Consult your doctor as other factors may have an impact on your menstrual cycle.
Whether you are hoping for a baby or not, inform your doctor and people you trust as soon as possible to discuss next steps if you get a positive result.