About at-home pregnancy tests
Dr. Diaz recommends waiting a minimum of 10 days after ovulation, or 28 days from the start of your last period, before taking a pregnancy test. It’s worth noting that the earlier you take a pregnancy test, the more likely you are to get a false negative, Dr. Alagia adds, as hormone levels haven’t gotten high enough to be detectable.
Always read the instruction insert that comes with the pregnancy tests you’ve purchased. With a line test, there will be a test line and a control line. The control line shows up to confirm the test is working. The test line only shows up when hCG is detected. Sometimes, these two lines are shown as two parallel lines. Other times, they may be two crossed lines.
And remember: Home pregnancy tests are qualitative. That means if the test line comes up at all — even if it’s relatively faint — you are currently pregnant. (False positives can happen, but they’re not common. Also, see the question about a positive result followed by a negative result below.)
Digital tests are somewhat easier to read in the sense that they’ll display the words “Pregnant” or “Not pregnant,” making interpretation simple.
Repeat the test in two or three days to confirm. “If you document two positive home pregnancy tests, visit your healthcare professional to verify the result with a quantitative hCG blood level test,” Dr. Diaz recommends.
If you tested early, you may want to repeat the test after your missed period. “False negatives are more common than false positives, so if you think you are pregnant and have a negative result, wait a few days and test again,” Dr. Alagia says.
“As many as 50 percent of positive early home pregnancy tests revert to negative when repeated a few days later,” Dr. Diaz says. This is known as a chemical pregnancy. Chemical pregnancies aren’t unusual, and while they can be extremely upsetting, they’re very common. They also don’t mean a person can’t eventually have a healthy pregnancy, according to Dr. Diaz.
If you get a positive result with a test that has a sensitivity of 25mIU/ml or higher, Dr. Diaz says, there’s a better chance the pregnancy will continue.
I saw someone else’s pregnancy test result online, and it looks darker than mine/different from mine. Should I be worried?
When you first get a positive pregnancy test, it can be tempting to compare your results to others’. This is a big no-no, according to Dr. Diaz. “Each pregnancy is different, and comparing pregnancy test results with other people may lead to confusion and unnecessarily stressful situations.” If you’re concerned about your pregnancy test results, check in with your healthcare provider ASAP.
The good news when buying pregnancy tests is that they’re mostly comparable to each other. “Most of the variation is related to packaging, ease of use, and ease of displaying results, rather than accuracy, although some tests advertise higher sensitivity, which may make it more likely to detect earlier pregnancies,” Dr. Alagia explains.
It’s also important to choose a test that you can afford, and that has clear instructions you can easily follow, Dr. Alagia says. For some, digital tests may be easier to use and interpret, while others find line tests simpler to use. When it comes to line tests, there are two main types: Those with pink dye and those with blue dye. Anecdotally, some say pink dye tests are easier to interpret, but this is largely down to personal preference.
Another key tip is to make sure your test is not beyond the expiration date, Dr. Alagia says, as expired tests may not work as intended.
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