Background: Effective confirmation of pregnancy is a basic component of reproductive health services. It is a prerequisite for accessing antenatal care (AnC) if the pregnancy is wanted and abortion services if the pregnancy is unwanted. This study examined the role of urine pregnancy testing in the timing of presentation for pregnancy-care.
Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 158 women presenting for antenatal care and 164 women presenting for abortion at public sector clinics in Cape Town, South Africa.
Results: The median gestational age at first presentation was 23 weeks for AnC clients and 13 weeks for abortion clients. Obtaining a urine pregnancy test of one's own accord was associated with a decrease in the gestational age at presentation of 3.6 and 1.4 weeks for antenatal and abortion clients, respectively, independently of all other factors.
Conclusion: Given the proven clinical benefit and public health impact of early presentation for antenatal and abortion services, strategies to decrease gestational age at presentation for pregnancy care should be given priority. 'Fast-track' urine pregnancy testing services should be established in public sector clinics in South Africa.