Home Pregnancy Tests
Wondering if you are pregnant can be nerve-wracking. Knowing ahead of time of what to expect with pregnancy testing can help ease some of your anxiety. Below, is information for tests you can perform at home. Visit our Pregnancy Testing page to learn what you can expect at your doctor’s office.
When should I take a home pregnancy test?
Home pregnancy tests (HPT) claim to be accurate as early as the first day of a missed period, but for more reliable results, it's a good idea to wait until one week after a missed period. HPTs may not be as accurate at the start of a pregnancy. And some women develop readable amounts of pregnancy hormones later on than others do. Also, most HPTs instruct users to re-take a home pregnancy test again in a few days. A negative result shortly after your missed period doesn't mean that you're not pregnant. Most HPT’s instruct the user to take the test 7 days after a missed period and then again a few days later.
How do home pregnancy or urine tests work?
All pregnancy tests, whether it is EPT, First Response, ClearBlue or at your local doctor’s office, work by detecting a particular hormone in the urine that is only there when a woman is pregnant. This hormone is called human chorionic gonadotropin (kohr-ee-ON-ihk goh-NAD-uh-TROH-puhn), or hCG, also called the pregnancy hormone.
hCG is made when a fertilized egg plants itself in the uterus. This happens approximately six days after the egg and sperm unite. But in 10% of women, implantation (when fertilized egg attaches to uterus) does not occur until later, after the first day of the missed period. The amount of hCG quickly builds in your body with each day you are pregnant.
Are there different types of pregnancy tests?
Yes. There are two main types of pregnancy tests that can let you know if you're pregnant: urine tests and blood tests. One tests the blood for the pregnancy hormone, hCG. And you need to see a doctor to have a blood test. The other checks the urine for the hCG hormone.
How do you do a home pregnancy test?
There are many different types of home pregnancy tests (HPTs) such as EPT, First Response, ClearBlue, etc. Most drugstores sell HPTs over the counter. The cost depends on the brand and how many tests come in the box.
Most HPTs instruct the user to hold a stick in the urine stream. And others involve collecting urine in a cup and then dipping the stick into it. While one brand tells the user to collect urine in a cup and then use a dropper to put a few drops of urine into a container. Different brands instruct the user to wait different amounts of time. Then the user should inspect the "result window." If a line or plus symbol appears, you are pregnant. Whether the line or symbol is bold or faint means the result is positive. New digital tests show the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant.”
Most tests also have a "control indicator" in the result window. This line or symbol shows whether the test is properly functioning. If the control indicator does not appear, you should not rely on any results from a HPT that is not functioning properly. Try another test and begin again.
Most brands instruct users to repeat the test in a few days whether the test is negative or positive. One negative result (especially right after a missed period) does not always mean you're not pregnant. All HPTs come with written instructions and have toll-free phone numbers to call in case of questions.
How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
Home pregnancy tests (HPTs) can be accurate. But the accuracy depends on:
- How you use them. Be sure to check the expiration date and follow the instructions. Then wait 10 minutes after taking the test to check the results window. Research suggests that waiting 10 minutes will give the most accurate result.
- When you use them. The amount of hCG or pregnancy hormone in your urine increases with time as your pregnancy progresses. Therefore, if you take the test right after a missed period, the harder it is to spot the hCG. Many HPTs claim to be 99% accurate on the first day of your missed period. But research suggests that most HPTs do not always detect the low levels of hCG usually present in early pregnancy. And when they do detect the low levels of hCG, the results are often very faint. Most HPTs can accurately detect pregnancy one week after a missed period. Testing your urine first thing in the morning may increase this accuracy.
- Who uses them. Each woman ovulates (when the egg leaves the ovary) at a different time during her period or menstrual cycle. And the fertilized egg (when sperm enters the egg) can be implanted in a woman’s uterus at different times. hCG only is produced once the implanting (when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus) occurs. In 10% of women, the implanting does not occur until after the first day of a missed period. So, HPTs can be accurate as soon as one day after a missed period for some women but not for others.
- The brand of test. Some HPTs are more sensitive than others. Therefore, some tests are better than others at spotting hCG early on.
My home pregnancy test says I am pregnant. What should I do next?
If a home pregnancy test is positive and you have decided to continue with the pregnancy, you should call an obstetrician (OB Or OB/GYN) as soon as possible. The doctor can use a more sensitive test such as blood testing along with a pelvic exam to make sure you are pregnant. Seeing the doctor early in your pregnancy will help you and your baby to stay healthy.
If a home pregnancy test is positive and you have decided not to continue with the pregnancy, you should call a clinic as soon as possible. The doctor will do another urine pregnancy testing for their records and a sonogram to determine how far your pregnancy has progressed and discuss termination options that best suit your circumstances. Click here for help in choosing a clinic.
My home pregnancy test is negative. Can I still be pregnant?
Yes. Most home pregnancy tests (HPTs) suggest the user to take the test again in a few days or a week if the test result is negative.
Each woman ovulates (when the egg leaves the ovary) at a different time during her period or menstrual cycle. And the fertilized egg (when sperm enters the egg) can implant in a woman’s uterus at different times. So, the accuracy of HPT is different from woman to woman.
Sometimes women get false negatives when they test too early in the pregnancy. This means that the test says you are not pregnant when you are actually are pregnant. Also, problems with the pregnancy can affect the amount of hCG in the urine.
If your HPT is negative, test yourself again in a few days or one week. If you keep getting a negative result but think you are pregnant, talk with a doctor right away.
Can anything affect the results of home pregnancy testing?
Most over-the-counter and prescription medications, including birth control pills and antibiotics, should not affect the results of a home pregnancy test (HPT). Only medications that have the pregnancy hormone hCG in them can give a false positive test result. A false positive is when a test says that you are pregnant when you are not. Sometimes medicines containing hCG are used to treat infertility (not being able to get pregnant).
Alcohol and illegal drugs do not affect home pregnancy test results. But do not use alcohol and illegal drugs if you are trying to become pregnant or if you are sexually active and could become pregnant.
If you have pregnancy symptoms such as below, pregnancy testing can confirm your suspicions:
- missed period
- tenderness in the breast
- being tired, fatigue