Did the pregnancy test lie?

Most urine strip pregnancy tests will give accurate results if used at the time when the periods would normally be due. Photo by Rachel Mabala.

What you need to know:

The early morning urine sample may have a higher amount of the hormone HCG, giving more accurate pregnancy test results.

Dear Doctor: I missed my periods and I took a pregnancy test which was weak. Does it mean I am not pregnant? Which test can I use to find out?

Sandra Aluko

Dear Sandra: The easy pregnancy test kits used in Uganda today, use strips to test for presence in urine of a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) produced by a developing placenta.
If one has used a test strip, a positive test will show two coloured lines; the intensity of the colour depending on the concentration of the HCG. So any shade of the colour should be considered positive since HCG normally occurs in pregnancy.

Sometimes, one may confuse evaporation lines with a weak strip test. These lines may appear if a test is read after the time specified by the test manufacturer (usually five minute reading time) .
Most strip urine pregnancy tests will give accurate results if one tests at or after the time the period would normally be due (about two weeks after ovulation).
A gestational sac which houses the unborn, first appears at about four weeks of pregnancy (two weeks after a missed period) and is the earliest ultrasound finding in pregnancy.

A blood test can also detect HCG. Blood tests are more sensitive than urine tests and can detect pregnancy from about six to eight days after ovulation. However doctors do not routinely do these tests and they are not available in many health centres.
You need to repeat the test using an early morning urine sample which may have a higher concentration of HCG at this time or visit your doctor for further help.

Dear doctor, my wife is three months pregnant and is experiencing pain in the lower abdomen. Could it be fibroids and is her pregnancy safe?
Mutyaba D
Dear Mutyaba: Pain in the lower abdomen could be from any cause including constipation and urinary tract infections common in pregnancy. It is usually due to an expanding uterus due to the growing pregnancy.
You need to visit your doctor to rule out a pregnancy outside of the womb (in the fallopian tubes).

Fibroids are non-cancerous swellings that develop in a womb of a woman during her reproductive years and, therefore, may be found in a pregnant woman. Since in the majority of women they cause no symptoms, they may be found accidentally for the first time during pregnancy.
That said, some pregnant women experience minor symptoms, including lower abdominal pain.
Though many people worry that fibroids grow rapidly in pregnancy due to a rapid rise in levels of female hormones; this is not always the case and those that grow then tend to return to their pre-pregnancy size after delivery.

Fibroids, however, can cause uncomfortable feelings of heaviness as they press on nearby structures, and may cause sharp pain in the lower back and legs if nerves are compressed.
In rare cases, fibroids may enlarge rapidly outstripping their blood supply (red degeneration) and bleeding in its middle causing lots of pain but this tends to occur in the second trimester of pregnancy.
The most common problem with fibroids in pregnancy is delivering two to three weeks early, (the premature baby usually survives and, therefore, this is of little threat to the baby), recurrent miscarriages (rarely before 24 weeks of pregnancy) and partial blockage of the lower part of the womb, requiring delivery by caesarean operation.