pregnancy test

Taking a pregnancy test can be nerve-racking! The minutes you spend waiting for the test result can feel like hours. Unfortunately, in your excitement or nervousness, you could miss a few steps that leave you with inaccurate test results. 

Even though home pregnancy tests have evolved and advanced to become more specific and accurate since their launch in 1976, they need to be taken correctly to ensure the best results. 

Many women experience signs of pregnancy as early as 10 days past ovulation or 10 DPO. However, some may confuse these symptoms with those of an upcoming period. Mood swings, breast tenderness, changes in vaginal discharge, light spotting, and mild cramps are also symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. So it is recommended that you confirm your suspicions with a pregnancy test.

How accurate are home pregnancy tests?

As your body goes through many changes to support the new baby’s growth, the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is released and continues to build up in your body. 

Urine pregnancy tests detect the presence of hCG, which is produced at a very early stage of the pregnancy by the cells from the growing embryo. The embryo is formed after the egg is released by the mature follicle in the ovary during ovulation and fertilized by the male sperm soon after.

Minimal amounts of hCG can be detected in maternal circulation eight days after conception, while 10 mlU/mL of hCG can be picked up in the blood  9 – 10 days after ovulation. The levels then begin to double every 2-3 days until it reaches its peak, both in the blood and urine of pregnant women. 

Studies show that over 95% of women find pregnancy tests easy to use, 96% are clear about how to use them and 93% trust the accuracy of home tests.

Here are 5 Ways to Ensure Accurate Results on Your Pregnancy Test 

1. Don’t expect success, prepare for it. 

If you want to keep urine pregnancy test kits on hand, they can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry area.

Before you buy the kits, make sure to check their expiry dates. Using kits that are expired may affect the results and interpretation. 

No matter what kind of urine pregnancy test you are taking, you will need the pregnancy test kit with packet instructions, a disposable cup (for the dipstick pregnancy test), a timer (on your smartphone) and your calendar or fertility chart.

Gather your supplies and set them up before you start the test. Have them handy so that you don’t waste time looking for things while doing the test. Instead, you can focus on following the instructions calmly. 

Read the instructions carefully. Be mindful of the different times required for testing, like how long to hold the stick under the urine stream and how long to wait before interpreting the findings. 

2. Timing is everything! 

Even though a pregnancy test may appear simple, the time you choose to take the test is the most critical factor in getting an accurate reading. Taking it too early may get you a false negative, which means that the test could read as negative, even if you are pregnant. 

Although some pregnancy kits can pick up small hCG levels, for a more accurate result, you can try taking the test after you miss your period, as the hCG levels would have risen and be easier to detect by then. 

If you take a pregnancy test and get a negative result but miss your period after that, repeat the test and speak to your doctor about the results. 

While taking the test,follow the instructions carefully. Make sure you check the results after the correct time as well. You can use a timer to get it right. 

Checking the results too early may not give enough time for the test reaction to occur, and you may end up with a false negative. 

If you let the test sit for too long before taking a reading, the liquid dries up, leaving behind the control line and an evaporation line. This is a false positive because the line shows up even though there is no hCG in your urine. 

3. Day or night, make the right choice. 

You should try to take urine pregnancy tests early in the morning, using your first urine sample of the day. Morning urine samples contain the most concentrated hCG levels, making it easier to detect on the test if it is present.

If you take the test during the day or at night, you will be using urine that may be diluted with the liquids you drink throughout the day. As a result, the hCG levels may be falsely low when you take the test, increasing your chances of an inaccurate reading. 

4. Beware of Interference 

If you are trying to conceive, your doctor may have given you fertility medications which contain hCG because it is believed to help the ovarian follicles release mature eggs. However, if you take a pregnancy test 7-14 days after your last fertility treatment, the hCG in your system could give a false positive on the test. Therefore, it is advisable to take the test more than two weeks after your last treatment to avoid the interference of these medicines on your test results. 

A few medical conditions may also trigger the release of hCG hormones, even without pregnancy. For example, women with ovarian cysts, kidney disease, urinary tract infections or problems with the pituitary gland in the brain may experience false positives. 

5. Have a backup plan in place. 

Even though pregnancy tests are accurate, you shouldn’t rely on just those results. Repeat your test if you have any doubts. Ask your healthcare provider for help in interpreting the results, or request a blood hCG test and ultrasonography to confirm pregnancy.

An ultrasound will also check the embryo’s overall health to ensure that the pregnancy is viable and can be taken to term, especially in those who have had miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies.

Keep these tips in mind while taking your next pregnancy test to get the most accurate results, and keep your anxiety at bay!