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Qualitative hCG testing detects the presence of hCG and is routinely used to screen for a pregnancy. This test may be performed by a laboratory, at a doctor's office, or at home using a home pregnancy test kit. Methods will vary slightly but for most, a test strip is dipped into a collected cup of urine or exposed to a woman's urine stream. A colored line (or other color change) appears within the time allotted per instructions, usually about 5 minutes. For accurate test results, it is important to carefully follow the test directions
Occasionally, an hCG test is used to screen for pregnancy if a woman is to undergo a medical treatment, be placed on certain drugs, or have other testing, such as x-rays, that might harm the developing baby.