Signs You Might Be Pregnant

A lot of women think that the first sign you could be pregnant is a missed period. In reality, there are a lot of early signs pointing to a possible pregnancy. Of course, things vary from one woman to the next, so you may not experience all of them, or some may not appear as early for you as they do for someone else.

At Willow Womens Center, we know that facing an unexpected pregnancy can be hard. It certainly starts you on an emotional roller coaster that isn’t nearly as fun as those at Six Flags. If you think you might be pregnant, take a look at the early signs of pregnancy below and see if any of them match up to things you are experiencing.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

Fatigue: You may feel exhausted and want to sleep all the time. This is because your body is working very hard and all your energy is being used on your pregnancy.

Nausea/vomiting: A lot, but not all, women experience this. For some, it’s first thing in the morning, while others have it happen at night. Eating many small meals or snacking regularly on crackers may help you through this.

Tender/swollen breasts: Remember the way your breasts feel when you get your period? Multiply that by 10. They may enlarge, the nipples can become darker, and a vein may become visible.

Spotting: Light bleeding or spotting can mean the embryo has implanted into the uterine wall. This usually happens about a week before you would expect your period but can fool some women into thinking they’ve had a period.

Aversion to certain foods: You may experience times when foods you normally like make you feel sick. Even the thought of some can do that, and the smell can do it as well. Beware, sometimes your sense of smell is enhanced and that might lead to nausea as well.

Cramping: Cramping, similar to menstrual cramps, can occur, but is less common than other symptoms.

Mood swings: Hormones get the blame for this one and can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. This can take the crabbiness level you usually experience during your period and make that seem like Happy Days. If you have trouble dealing with this, talk to your doctor and see what help they can offer.

Peeing: Another one to blame on the hormones, increased blood flow through your kidneys, and a growing uterus pressing on your bladder. This can begin as soon as one week after implantation.

Dizziness or fainting: This can happen due to the uterus compressing major arteries in your legs while standing and cause your blood pressure to drop. Don’t skip meals or going too long without food as it can cause blood sugar to drop and result in feeling dizzy.

Constipation: Hormones can slow down bowel functions to allow for better absorption of vitamins and nutrients.

Heartburn: As the uterus grows, the hormone HCG slows down digestion, so your stomach doesn’t empty as fast, increasing stomach acid and causing that uncomfortable feeling of heartburn.

Come See Us for Testing

If the early signs you might be pregnant sound familiar, you are probably thinking its time to take a pregnancy test. We are here to help you at Willow Womens Center with no cost pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and STI testing.

One of our licensed medical staff members will administer the medical-grade pregnancy test and discuss your results with you immediately afterward. If the result was positive, we will provide you with a no-cost ultrasound.

An ultrasound can tell you how far along you are, determine the location of the pregnancy (If your pregnancy develops in your fallopian tubes, this is called an ectopic pregnancy and can be life-threatening), and will tell you the gestational age, an important piece of information if you are considering an abortion.

An ultrasound may also help determine the risk that you might miscarry: 20% of all pregnancies do not carry to term and 80% of all miscarriages happen in the first trimester (first 13 weeks). If it is determined that you are at risk for a miscarriage or have an ectopic pregnancy, you may not need to have an abortion. Instead, you would need to seek prompt medical attention.

Willow Womens Center also provides testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Since abortion can be an invasive procedure, untreated STI’s can be pushed into the uterus where they can drastically affect your long-term reproductive health and future fertility. An untreated STI can leave you with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, causing chronic abdominal pain, fever, abnormal bleeding, nausea and infertility.

Once all the testing has been completed, we will give you clear, unbiased information, answer all your questions openly and honestly, and give you the support you need to make a decision about your future. We know that having all the information you need will give you the confidence and peace about the choice you make, whatever it is.

 

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How Soon Is Too Early to Test for Pregnancy?

When you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant, it can feel like torment waiting to know for sure. You might have sore breasts, mild cramping, and other signs of early pregnancy that could also be premenstrual symptoms, and it causes you to waver back and forth, thinking you are pregnant and then thinking you are not. That can leave you feeling more confused and wondering how soon you can get the answers you need. You have seen ads for pregnancy tests that claim to detect pregnancy five days before your expected period. So, should you test that early? And how soon is too early to test for pregnancy? We will answer those questions here.

When Is It Too Early to Test for Pregnancy?

If you take a pregnancy test before you have missed your period, you increase your chances of getting a false negative result. This means the test will read negative when you actually are pregnant, so experts recommend waiting until you have already missed your period to prevent false-negative test results.

Why Wait?

As hard as it is, it is best to wait so that if you are pregnant, your body has enough time to produce human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone that a pregnancy test will detect in your urine. Your peace of mind in knowing your result is accurate is worth it!

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

After sex, an egg is fertilized with sperm (fertilization). The fertilized egg travels to the uterus and attaches into the uterine lining (implantation). Implantation occurs about 7-14 days after you have had sex, and it triggers your body to start producing the pregnancy hormone, hCG. Your hCG levels will double every 48-72 hours after implantation, and it is important to give those levels time to climb.

What About Early Pregnancy Tests?

Early pregnancy test manufacturers market to your desire to get answers as early as possible. It is not hard to see the advertising on the box and read the claims of 99% accuracy along with the ability to detect pregnancy six days before your missed period.

But let us take a closer look, so you do not test too early for pregnancy. The first thing to consider is that the percentage provided on the front of the package is only accurate when you take the test on the day of your expected period — and in a laboratory setting by professionals. The same goes for the the instructions printed inside the pregnancy test kit; the claims of accuracy are elevated because they do not reflect real-life testing in real-life situations.  The results from a University of New Mexico study reveal the chances you can anticipate getting the right answer from an early home pregnancy test:

  • One day past your expected period: 100% of pregnancies detected
  • On the day of your expected period: 96% of pregnancies detected
  • On the day before your expected period: 93% of pregnancies detected
  • Two days before your expected period: 81% of pregnancies detected
  • Three days before your expected period: 68% of pregnancies detected
  • Four days before your expected period: 42% of pregnancies detected
  • Five days before your expected period: 33% of pregnancies detected
  • Six days before your expected period: 25% of pregnancies detected

When Is the Best Time in Your Cycle to Test?

Although your body begins to produce hCG 7 to 10 days after fertilization, waiting provides the most accurate results. In order to give your body enough time for hCG to build up to a detectable level in your urine by a pregnancy test, it is best to take a pregnancy test about 14 days after fertilization. For a woman who has a 28-day cycle and ovulates 14 days after her last period, this would mean testing on the day you expect your next period if you suspect you are pregnant. For the most accurate results, take a pregnancy test a couple of days after your missed period.

If your test is negative and your period does not start, you still might be pregnant, but your hCG levels are just not high enough to register on the test. Most testing kit instructions recommend you wait one week to take another test; however, many women test a few days later. Contact a healthcare professional if you still have a negative pregnancy test or have further questions.

When Is the Best Time of Day to Take a Pregnancy Test?

The best time of day to take a pregnancy test is first thing in the morning because at that time your urine  contains the highest concentration of hCG. This is particularly important the earlier you are taking your pregnancy test. You can test later in the day, but you will have a higher chance of seeing a false-negative test result because your urine will be diluted. Tips for testing include:

  • Use first-morning urine (or after you haven’t urinated in at least four hours).
  • Don’t drink a lot of fluid that could dilute your hCG levels before your test.
  • Check to make sure the pregnancy test is not expired, which can provide inaccurate results. Checking the expiration date is particularly important if you keep pregnancy tests at home “just in case.”
  • It is understandable that once you have the pregnancy test in your hands, you want to get to the answers quickly. Plus, it seems like a no-brainer because they are designed to be easy to use. Take time to read all of the instructions and follow them precisely. Even if you have taken pregnancy tests before, little variances between them can be the difference between a result you can count on and a wrong one.
  • We all know how easy it is to lose track of time, so do not try to estimate when to read your results. Set a timer so you can read your test results exactly at the time directed in the instructions. Do not read the test window after that set time because a faint “evaporation line” can appear, which makes your test appear to be positive when it is really negative.

Hopefully, this information is helpful to understand the value of not testing too early for pregnancy, so you can have peace of mind knowing your results are accurate.

If you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant, Willow Womens Center is here for you. We offer medical-grade pregnancy testing at no cost to you. Our licensed healthcare professionals provide other no-cost services that empower you to make informed decisions that you are comfortable with. Make your appointment today by calling 608-312-2025 or use our online scheduler.


3 Tips for Improving Communication in Your Relationship

You asked your partner for a straightforward request: be on time, so you do not miss the beginning of the movie. But he is late, and you are going to miss the film’s plot layout. How do you respond? Do you yell? Do you keep your frustration to yourself and fume inside throughout the movie? Or do you assume there must be a good reason he is late and forget about it?

Relationships are rewarding, but good relationships don’t just happen. They need intentional nurturing to grow strong. Most of us know about the importance of communication in a relationship. But how does that practically look? Here are three tips for improving communication in your relationship:

1. Seek to Understand

When you seek to understand, you are actively listening. Active listening means you are trying to understand your partner’s point of view.

We all want to be understood. Have you heard the phrase, “There’s another side to every story?” It is an excellent reminder to enter every conversation to understand the other person’s perspective before getting our viewpoint across.

Using the movie scenario as an example, you would be justified in being disappointed. At that moment, you have two options. You can begin by trying to make your partner understand your disappointment, or you can start by seeking to understand your partner’s perspective.

If you jump right into trying to make him understand your disappointment, you are most likely assuming your partner was irresponsible or disrespectful by running late. If you begin by asking the right questions and seeking to understand, you might discover there was a legitimate reason for his delay. In that case, you have just built a bridge between the two of you.

Another way to improve communication is to cultivate mutual respect for one another.

2. Cultivate Mutual Respect

When there is mutual respect in a relationship, it means one person does not have power or control over another. Both partners can express themselves freely. Each partner can have their own opinion, and it is respected by the other even if they do not agree. Other signs of respect in a relationship also include:

  • Speaking about and to each other considerately
  • Supporting one another’s interests, education, hobbies, etc.
  • Interdependence vs. independence or codependence
  • Always honoring each other’s boundaries

Cultivating mutual respect in your relationship is a great way to strengthen your connection with your partner.

3. Pursue Connection

At the core of every relationship is connection. Connection is an emotional bond that holds you and your partner together. When there is a sense of healthy connection in a relationship, improved communication follows. You can look at connection as the glue that strengthens your relationship. There are simple ways to enhance connection with your partner:

  • Show appreciation every day.
  • Give your partner your full attention when you are talking.
  • Be the first one to apologize (without defending yourself) for your part in a disagreement.
  • Make physical connections daily by holding hands, hugging, etc.
  • Show compassion for your partner’s experiences.
  • Create fun time to laugh and play together.

It is not unusual for relationships to become more challenging when you are facing an unexpected pregnancy. Keep reminding yourself of who you are and what you really expect out of your relationship and what each of you can do to make it work.

We Are Here for You

If you think you may be pregnant and would like to visit us for a pregnancy test and ultrasound at no cost to you, please make an appointment at Willow Womens Center by calling 608-312-2025. You can also schedule your appointment directly on our website.


Are You Pregnant? Symptoms to Look For

If you’ve been feeling a little “off” lately, more emotional, not really yourself, you might be wondering if you are coming down with the flu, or maybe that nasty cold that has been making the rounds. Have you considered, though, it might be something else? Could you be pregnant? Here are some signs to look for:

If you have had sex since your last period, you could be pregnant. Pregnancies happen every day, despite using contraception. Before you panic, grab a bottle of water, take a seat, relax and get ready to think about these symptoms of pregnancy.

There are quite a few early signs of pregnancy, but many of them can be attributed to other conditions as well. It’s when you recognize several together that it points more strongly toward pregnancy. Keep in mind, you could be pregnant without experiencing or recognizing any of these symptoms.

Most Common Signs of Pregnancy

Fatigue: This can start as early as one week after conception and is thought to be due to the hormone progesterone together with lowered blood sugar, lower blood pressure and increased blood production.

Food, cravings or aversions: Another sign you can thank the hormones for. These aversions and cravings can last the entire pregnancy, can change, or might end by the 13th or 14th week. Beware, this is not limited to eating food, but certain smells can also trigger nausea and vomiting.

Increased urination: Usually begins around the sixth week after conception.

Missed period: The most common symptom of pregnancy. There can be spotting and cramping when the embryo implants into the uterine wall. This could happen between 6-12 days after the egg is fertilized.

Nausea and vomiting: Also called morning sickness, although it doesn’t have to happen in the morning. It can be afternoon, evening or constant.

Tender and/or swollen breasts: As with other signs, this is due mainly to hormones and will ease in a few weeks.

Less Common Signs of Pregnancy

Backaches: Like so many other signs, this is linked to hormones and stress.

Bloating: This also is due to hormones and is similar to the feeling at the beginning of your menstrual period.

Headaches: This might be caused by the increased volume of blood your body is busy producing.

Mood swings: This is common thanks to hormones, especially during the first three months.

Dizziness: This could happen as a result of dilating blood vessels, low blood pressure, and/or low blood sugar.

Constipation: This, too, is due to increased levels of progesterone, although not everyone will experience this.

Darkening of the areolas: The area around the nipple may get larger and darker in color.

Schedule a Pregnancy Test

If you suspect you could be pregnant, make an appointment to come to Willow Womens Center for a no-cost pregnancy test. If it is positive, we will offer you an ultrasound to determine viability of the pregnancy and how far along the pregnancy is. A positive pregnancy test alone is not conclusive.

At Willow Womens Center, we care about you holistically: physically, emotionally, spiritually and want to support you in all of those areas. We are committed to helping you consider all your options, giving you unbiased information and answering your questions.

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How Conclusive is a Positive Pregnancy Test?

Maybe you just have a “feeling,” or perhaps you have had an upset stomach the last couple of mornings. You think you might be pregnant. Before you reach for that at-home pregnancy test, STOP. How conclusive is a positive pregnancy test? Does it matter when you take it?

Actually, yes. If you take a pregnancy test too early, you risk getting an incorrect reading, causing you to think you are pregnant when you really are not or think you are not pregnant when you really are.

How Soon Will a Pregnancy Test Read Positive or Negative?

The first thing you need to do is calculate the day your period is expected. To do this, take the first day of your last period and count forward 28 days. That will be the estimated start of your next menstrual cycle.

Hold on, though! Even though many companies claim their pregnancy tests will accurately read positive or negative on the day your period is due, or even four days before that, you will benefit from waiting until the second day after your period is due.

Why wait to take your pregnancy test? Mayo Clinic says, “Shortly after a fertilized egg attaches to your uterine lining, the placenta forms and produces the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). This hormone enters your bloodstream and urine… The earlier you take the home pregnancy test, the harder it might be for the test to detect hCG… If your periods are irregular, you might have a hard time figuring out when your period is due.”

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

Home pregnancy tests use urine to detect hCG. Tests have varying designs for use — some say to place the test stick directly into your urine stream. Others use a collection cup that you can dip the test stick into, while other tests have droppers to transfer the urine drops to a test cartridge.  

After waiting for the prescribed amount of time, usually just a couple of minutes, the results will show in a window on that stick. The results can display in a few different ways — as a plus or minus sign, with the words pregnant or not pregnant, or one or two lines. The Directions for Use included with each test will explain what exactly you should look for when it is time to read the results.

Can You Take a Pregnancy Test While on Your Period?

Yes. If you take a pregnancy test while you are bleeding, it will not affect the test results. It is not uncommon for women to experience bleeding while they are pregnant, although bleeding while pregnant is technically not a period. Sometimes, a woman will get light bleeding around the time her period is due. This is called implantation bleeding and happens when the fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining.

How Can You Get a False-Positive Result?

There are several ways to get a false-positive result. The best way to avoid this is by reading the directions thoroughly before taking the test and making sure you follow them precisely. Instructions can vary from test to test, so don’t assume you know how the one you are using right now works.

Evaporation lines:

An evaporation line is a faint line that appears after the prescribed amount of time has passed. To avoid reading an evaporation line as a false-positive result, make sure you look at the result window exactly when the directions say and not after.

If you wait too long, and you have a non-digital test, you may see a line that you think means you are pregnant. In reality it could be the evaporation line from the urine.

Previous miscarriage, abortion, or birth:

When you are pregnant, the hormone hCG is secreted. After a miscarriage, abortion, or birth, the levels will slowly drop to non-pregnant levels somewhere between nine and 35 days after the pregnancy ended. If you take a test within this time frame, it could pick up on hCG from the previous pregnancy resulting in a false-positive.

Sometimes, women have chemical pregnancies which are pregnancies that miscarry shortly after a fertilized egg implants into the lining of the uterus. Many times, women are not aware that they had a miscarriage, but if they take an early pregnancy test, it will detect the hormones produced before the miscarriage and cause a false-positive.

Molar pregnancy:

Molar pregnancy is a condition that causes a uterine tumor to grow. It is caused by a genetic abnormality at conception, resulting in an abnormal pregnancy where only the male chromosomes are present. When this occurs, a dilation and curettage are required to remove the abnormal tissue.

Medications:

There are certain medications that can lead to a false-positive pregnancy test. Generally, these medications contain hCG and are used to treat infertility.

Medical conditions:

Some medical conditions can result in false-positives because they cause hCG to rise when a woman is not pregnant. Some of those conditions include disorders affecting the pituitary gland, certain cancers, phantom hCG, ovarian cysts, and urinary disease or urinary tract infections.

Can Being on Your Period Cause a False-Positive Pregnancy Test?

No, being on your period will not cause a false-positive test result.

Accuracy

If you follow the instructions carefully, and patiently wait an extra day after a missed period, home pregnancy tests can be 99 percent accurate, according to the United States’ Office on Women’s Health.

What to Do After a Positive Pregnancy Test

Positive pregnancy tests are not conclusive. If you get a positive reading on a home pregnancy test, schedule a visit at Willow Womens Center for a medical-grade pregnancy test to confirm your results. We can help you determine how far along you are and check the viability of your pregnancy. Both of this is done by ultrasound.

Our licensed medical professionals offer no-cost pregnancy testing and ultrasound exams. Our team can answer your questions without judgment or bias, so you feel equipped to make a confident decision about your pregnancy.  

Make an appointment today at Willow Womens Center. We care about you, holistically: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and our desire is for you to feel supported in all of those areas.