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Top Tips for taking a home blood test

We know that taking a home blood test can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your first time or you are concerned about your health. There’s no need to worry because we are here to help and offer you guidance along the way. Here are some of our top tips for taking a finger-prick home blood test.

1. Prepare

Preparation is the key to success! Check the contents of your test kit by laying them out on a clean surface in front of you. Then, make sure to read the instructions provided in the box carefully.

2. Hydrate

Being hydrated is very important when preparing to take the test, as it makes it easier to collect your sample. Ensure you drink at least one large glass of water within the hour before you take the test.

3. Get your blood pumping

Doing some light exercise before you take the test will get help to get your blood flowing, which will make it easier for the sample to be taken. Here are some examples of light exercises you can do to increase your blood flow: 

  • Doing 10 star jumps 
  • Gentle movement such as yoga or stretching
  • Going for a short, brisk walk 

If you aren’t able to do these exercises, don’t worry. Just make sure your body is nice and warm. Taking a warm shower might help with this.  

4. Wash, and warm up your hands 

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before you handle the test. Then, before taking the test, we recommend warming up your hands by immersing them in some warm water for 5 minutes. Having warm hands will help to increase blood circulation so that enough blood can be drawn to fill the tube. Alternatively, you could collect your sample after a hot shower. 

5. Place the lancet carefully  

The lancet is the finger-pricking device you use to take the blood sample. Lay your hand on a flat surface. We recommend pricking the side of your ring finger, rather than the pad, as this can make the prick less painful. Then, wipe away the first drop of blood with the moist wipe provided. 

6. Let gravity help you 

We recommend you stand up to take your sample and place the collection tube on a low surface. Keep your arm straight, with your hand below your waist. This will help the blood flow smoothly downwards into the tube.

 Do be careful if you are feeling faint. If this is the case, it may be better to be seated, but still keep your arm straight with your hand below your waist.  

7. Massage your hand 

Another way to encourage blood flow is to gently massage your hand starting from the palm down to the end of your finger. Be careful not to touch or squeeze the area of skin you have pricked with the lancet. It’s important to be gentle when massaging your hand, as being too rough can damage the blood cells. 

8. Gently mix the sample 

Once you’ve filled the sample to the marked line, replace the cap firmly and turn the tube upside down and back up again 10 times, but don’t shake it. This will help to ensure the sample does not clot. 

Still having trouble taking your sample? 

Not to worry, we’re here to help. If you’ve followed all our top tips but still require more support, give us a call on 03303303849 (Mon-Fri, between 9am-5pm) to book a video call where we can help you to try again using the spare lancet provided on another clean finger. Alternatively, you can email us with any questions you have at clinic@drfertility.co.uk. We can then arrange a call to provide you with support to help you feel more confident when taking your sample. 

Why a test sample might fail

Following our top tips should help to prevent your sample from failing when it reaches the laboratory, but it’s important to understand what might cause that to happen. Here are some of the reasons why a sample might fail:

Insufficient sample

When the sample reaches the laboratory, it needs to be spun to separate out the blood cells from the liquid (plasma) that surrounds it, and it is this plasma that is tested. If the blood sample is too small, the laboratory may not have enough plasma for it to test. It’s very important to fill the sample tube up to the required volume.  

Haemolysis 

If you are struggling to get enough of a sample, it’s natural to want to squeeze your finger harder to get more blood from it. Unfortunately, this can cause the blood cells to burst so that they contaminate the plasma that the laboratory wants to test, resulting in a failed sample. Warming your hands and gently massaging your hand and finger is the best way to avoid this. 

Clotted sample

If it takes a long time to draw the sample into the collection tube, or if the sample is not mixed after being collected, the sample may clot, and therefore not be useable for testing. Follow the top tips to prevent this from happening.

The sample is too old

It’s very important that you send your sample back to us on the same day it was taken, otherwise it may be too old to be used for testing. We recommend sending your sample back using a priority Postbox. You can find your nearest one here.

 Attaching the label to your sample tube

All test kits will include a personalised peelable label which must be attached to the sample tube, otherwise it will be rejected, even if it is included within the returned package. This is because it is a regulatory requirement that all laboratories must follow. The peelable label will appear to be too large, suggesting it will wrap around itself and obscure some details. Instead, wrap the label once around the sample tube, but allow the ends of the label to attach against each other so that it creates a 'flag'. 

 Frequently Asked Questions

 Reminders

1. There are other important factors that can affect your fertility, so remember that the results of this test do not provide a complete picture. This is one reason why your fertility nurse will discuss your results with you on a video consultation.

2. This test is not a substitute for seeing your doctor, especially if you are experiencing any other symptoms that are not related to your fertility.  

Written on: 21/12/21  Review by: 21/12/22