You just took a home pregnancy test, and it’s positive. Now what? You may have a million thoughts running through your head about your next steps, your options, and where to turn for guidance. We’re here to give you answers.
You may not realize this, but the first thing you need to do is confirm your pregnancy with a medical-grade test followed by an ultrasound. This is necessary for multiple reasons, especially if you are considering having an abortion. Getting an ultrasound is not a step you can skip – let’s talk about why it’s so important.
Ultrasounds Confirm Pregnancy
Home pregnancy tests work by measuring the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy. These tests can only indicate hormone levels and cannot confirm that you have a viable pregnancy, meaning the embryo is implanted in the uterus and has a heartbeat.
For this reason, an ultrasound is necessary to confirm the presence of an intrauterine pregnancy and cardiac activity.
Ultrasounds Confirm Viability and Gestational Age
A positive pregnancy test does not mean that the pregnancy will continue. About 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage(1). Pregnancy viability will be confirmed with an ultrasound, but more importantly, gestational age will be determined.
If abortion is an option you are considering, remember that Florida law requires an ultrasound exam before having an abortion procedure. The fetus’ gestational age impacts the cost and type of abortion procedures you may be eligible for, so it is vital to know how advanced your pregnancy is before making any decision.
Ultrasounds Determine Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. Approximately 90% of ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube. This can be life-threatening if left undetected. An ultrasound is the most effective way to diagnose ectopic pregnancy.
What You Can Expect During an Ultrasound
At A Woman’s Place Medical Clinic, our trained staff performs limited obstetrical ultrasound exams. This means that we are looking to answer specific questions:
- Is there a heartbeat?
- Is this an intrauterine pregnancy?
- How far along is the pregnancy?
During your ultrasound appointment, a medical staff member will review your health and pregnancy history. Then, they will begin with a transabdominal ultrasound exam. You will lie on a table with your abdomen exposed from the lower part of your ribs to your hips. A gel will be applied to the surface of your abdomen. The staff member will move a handheld transducer along your abdomen to capture images.
If it is impossible to obtain adequate images and measurements by scanning abdominally, a transvaginal scan may be performed. You will be asked to undress from the waist down. It is recommended that you empty your bladder before the exam. You will lie on your back with your feet in stirrups, similar to a pelvic exam. The transducer for this exam is shaped like a wand. It is covered with a latex sheath, like a condom, and lubricated before being inserted into the vagina. You may feel slight pressure during this procedure.
Your Next Steps
Give us a call! You may qualify for a free ultrasound after having an initial intake appointment with a positive pregnancy test completed at one of our four clinics.
We will be with you every step of the way. Our trained and compassionate staff provides referrals, resources, education, and support to assist you in taking your next step. Having an ultrasound is the best place to start. Educate and empower yourself! Call today.
- Mayo Clinic - Miscarriage