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Can you trust at-home pregnancy tests?

Two pink lines.

Can this really be happening? What do I do now? How can I know for sure?

There are so many thoughts that might be running through your head if you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant. One of the biggest questions you may be asking is, “Can I really trust an at-home pregnancy test?”

No matter what kind of emotions you feel surrounding a potential pregnancy, it’s important to know if you can trust at-home pregnancy tests. Most at-home pregnancy tests claim to be 99% accurate, but they differ in their ability to detect a pregnancy in people who have recently missed a period.

How do at-home pregnancy tests detect pregnancy?

At-home pregnancy tests work by detecting a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG, which is created when the placenta begins forming after implantation. This hormone is almost exclusively produced during pregnancy. These tests check to see if there’s HCG in the urine.

“No matter what kind of emotions you feel surrounding a potential pregnancy, it’s important to know if you can trust at-home pregnancy tests.”

When should I take an at-home pregnancy test?

Because at-home pregnancy tests work by detecting hCG in your urine (which doubles every 2 to 3 days,), it is best to wait until after a missed period. If you wait one to two days after a missed period, you are more likely to receive a positive test if you are pregnant.

However, the timing of ovulation can vary which alters the timing of when hCG can be detected. Irregular menstrual cycles can also affect test results, as it may be harder to determine when your period should have started.

Is it possible to get a false positive test?

False negatives are more common when taking at-home pregnancy tests. You could have taken the test too early and the hCG hormone has not risen enough to be detected. If you check the results too soon, you might not have given it enough time to register the correct results. If you take your test later in the day, it’s also more likely to get a false negative, as your hCG hormone is most concentrated first thing in the morning. 

Other Tips

  • Check your test’s expiration date before testing to ensure more accurate results.
  • Carefully follow the test’s instructions and wait time.
  • Ask a pharmacist which at-home test they recommend if you feel overwhelmed by your options.
  • If your at-home test result is positive, mixed, or negative but you still don’t get your period, schedule a blood test or ultrasound with your physician.

If you think you could be pregnant, call Hope Women’s Center or schedule an appointment today to get your lab-quality pregnancy test as no charge.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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