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How Accurate are Home Pregnancy Tests?

Whether you’re trying to conceive, or you’re afraid that you accidentally got pregnant, you will want to know the answer to – “How Accurate are Home Pregnancy Tests?” In order to understand the accuracy of home pregnancy tests, you have to first learn about how they work, what hormones they measure, and how soon you can take the test.

Home Pregnancy Tests and How They Work

Home pregnancy tests cannot tell you whether or not your partner’s sperm has been successful in penetrating your elusive egg, and they cannot tell you whether the fertilized egg has implanted in your womb. What a home pregnancy test can tell you is whether there are pregnancy hormones in your body.

A home pregnancy test measures the level of a hormone called, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG for short). Non-pregnant women do not have this hormone in their body. hCG is the unique pregnancy hormone that the cells from the blastocyst (the ball of cells that will eventually become the embryo) produce during implantation – this usually takes place a week after you conceive. HCG will first enter your bloodstream around six days after conception. By this time, the fertilized egg (now the blastocyst) has implanted and made a nice, comfy home for the next nine months.

Human chorionic gonadotropin can be detected in your bloodstream before you notice that you have a missed period. Afterwards, it can be detected in your blood. This pregnancy hormone helps keep your pregnancy healthy, and it aids in the development of your unborn baby. As your pregnancy continues, the levels of hCG will continue to increase, doubling every two to three days. After your baby is born, you will have no more hCG in your bloodstream or urine.

How Accurate are Home Pregnancy Tests?

For the most part, home pregnancy tests are pretty accurate. Most home pregnancy tests claim that that they can detect pregnancy by 99 percent accuracy (sometimes even higher than this). Some claim that you can use them on the day of your first missed period. But here’s the problem – if you take a home pregnancy test too early, you may get a negative result even when you are definitely pregnant. For some women, it takes them awhile before the amount of hCG in their urine is high enough for a home pregnancy test to pick it up.

The accuracy of home pregnancy tests depends on a number of factors, including how soon you take the test and how sensitive the test is.

Although some home pregnancy tests can detect the level of hCG in your urine as early as the first week of your missed period, a majority of home pregnancy tests on the market are not that sensitive. You may end up getting an inaccurate result if you take the test too soon. For this reason, you will want to test, test, and test again if you have missed a period and don’t know if you’re pregnant or not.

If you receive a negative result from the home pregnancy test at first, but you’re almost positive that you’re with child (some women just have a gut feeling that they’re pregnant), wait another week and take the test again.

(If you’re looking for my specific recommendations for accurate home pregnancy tests, please head over to my Pregnancy and Baby store, where I’ve handpicked what I believe are the most accurate and reliable HPTs.

When Should You Take a Home Pregnancy Test

Many home pregnancy tests do claim that you can test on the day that you miss your period and get an accurate result. Unfortunate, research on this issue doesn’t back up the claims from these companies. If you do happen to get a result on the day of your missed period, the line can be too faint for you to correctly understand.

For the most accurate result on a home pregnancy test, you should wait one week after your missed period. If you need to know earlier than this, you should make an appointment with your doctor and get a blood pregnancy test. Blood tests can measure exactly how much hCG is in your bloodstream, and it can tell you whether or not you’re pregnant. (Again, you may run into the problem of testing too soon, and there’s not enough hormones in your bloodstream yet, even though you are indeed pregnant.)

Types of Home Pregnancy Tests

Home pregnancy tests come in two basic types. The most common home pregnancy test that you’ll find at your local pharmacy or grocery store uses a test strip that you pee on (or you dip into a cup of urine). The second type of home pregnancy test uses a test device and a urine collection cup.

To get the most accurate result on any type of home pregnancy test, you will want to take the test first thing in the morning. When urine has been in your bladder all night (when you were sleeping), it tends to have the highest level of hormone, and it can give you more accurate results.

When using a home pregnancy test, always check the expiration date and follow the packaged instructions. (Always read the instructions very carefully). Try to be patient and wait ten minutes after testing before you check to see whether or not you’re pregnant.

False Positive Results Can Happen

With a home pregnancy test, you can receive a “false positive” result – the pregnancy test says you’re pregnant when you’re not.

You can get a “false positive” result if you’ve had an early miscarriage (sometimes called a “chemical pregnancy”). With a chemical pregnancy, the fertilized egg did implant in your uterus, but for some reason, the pregnancy did not take. You will receive a positive result, because hCG is still in your bloodstream. You will end up shedding the fertilized egg, uterine lining, and other tissue in what you think is a regular period, but in reality is a failed pregnancy.

You can also get a false positive result with a home pregnancy test if you’re taking a fertility drug with hCG, you’ve had an abortion in the last two months, or you have medical condition (such as an hCG-secreting tumor).

Medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) – including birth control pills and antibiotics – will not affect the results of the home pregnancy tests. They cannot give you false positives.

Take Multiple Pregnancy Tests

If you get one negative home pregnancy test, do not automatically assume that you’re not pregnant. Wait for your period to come, and another week or two passes without your menstrual period, buy another home pregnancy test and test again.

If you happen to get a faint positive result, wait another week and take another test to confirm.

When the home pregnancy tests are giving you negative results, and you are noticing early pregnancy symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider and make an appointment with your doctor.

You May Also Enjoy Reading: 

Reasons for Missed Period – When You’re Not Pregnant
PMS or Pregnancy Symptoms?

About the author: DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

{ 154 comments… add one }
  • dgj July 3, 2016, 9:54 am

    I have no regullar periods april i have sex but then not a regullar periods then my boyfriend he said to me i m pregnent so i cheked pregnancy kit then m i pregnat so i sugest i think abortion pill so then i have take abrtion pill then i have bleeding started totaly 11 days periods 27 april i have take pills then i have periods come but may in manth i have no periods then i have again abortion pills may 27 then 6 june is stop periods i think m not pregnent but full june month i have last timing periods but its not come back and then i have cheked pregnancy kit one red line i dont no what to do i m so scured i have no periods now plzz help me

  • esha June 25, 2016, 10:23 pm

    i did protected sex on 24 may.. and get the periods on next day. my cycle is about 24-27 days and regular. on june 18, i have my next periods but it was too short and i hardly bleed for a day. but it was blood like periods. On 23 june, i went for blood test, which comes negative.. well i ddnt do sex in between 25 may to 18 june.. not a single time. it is importamt to mention that, i was fasting from june 7 till june 18 when i have my periods. also i ahve some sort of stress. now i m seriously comfuse about it… help plss. can i be pregnant??
    beacuse back to januray, i did two times sex unprotected on mid of my cycle and i concived that day.. and missed my periods. urine test comes poritive after 4 days if missed periods…but for some reason i did abortion. but it didnt effect my cycle.

  • Asdfghjkl June 1, 2016, 12:43 pm

    So the last time I had sex was 4 months ago. I have a constant fear of becoming pregnant and it’s been driving me crazy. I’ve never missed a pill (I have switched brands as doctors recommend but never missed any). And we use condoms and have never had one rip or tear. I’ve taken 7 tests in the last 5 months and all he been negative but I can’t get this thought put of my head. Normal ish periods, the last one was stange, but overall normal for he others. Help?

  • Starrasia April 29, 2016, 10:13 pm

    I haven’t had a period for 2 weeks I missed my period on April 12 & got my faint positive pregnancy test on April 14 and from on up I’ve been getting positive but until 2 days ago I had got a negative when I brought a pregnancy test from the dollar store. Did I have a miscarriage?

  • Starrasia April 29, 2016, 10:11 pm

    I have had a period for 2 weeks I missed my period on April 12 & got my faint positive pregnancy test on April 14 and from on up I’ve been getting positive but until 2 days ago I had got a negative when I brought a pregnancy test from the dollar store. Did I have a miscarriage?

  • anonymus January 21, 2016, 4:30 am

    i am 3 months late in my periods, i took tests 3 times after the first month and 2nd month it turns out negative each time. i and my boyfriend have always used condoms and it never burst. can i still be pregnant

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  • someone October 22, 2015, 5:30 pm

    hello.my gf and i had protected sex i came once and cleaned up but after a while i put my cock in her vaginaa with no protection for 5 seconds then i got it out and she has past her period for 2 weeks but 3 weeks after sex she had a pregnancy test 2 times and it only showed 1 line negative so should i be worried?

  • yari August 4, 2015, 3:12 pm

    Period came down on friday very light hardly got blood on pad unless i made any force, finished still light yesterday monday,i usually have cramps and bloating not this time, un top of that the light period came with a clear stretchy discharge,been feeling light headed,back pain,weak,tired,not hungry,hot flashes also im only 28 had teo kids but each pregnancy was diferente.helpam i pregnant i wish i am took a pregnancu test today came out invalid then after an hour i lookked at the same test came out negative

  • yari August 4, 2015, 3:09 pm

    Period came down on friday very light hardly got blood on pad unless i made any force, finished still light yesterday monday,i usually have cramps and bloating not this time, un top of that the light period cane with a ckear stretchy discharge,been feeling light headed,back pain,weak,tired,not hungry,hot flashes also im only 28 had teo kids but each pregnancy was diferente.helpam i pregnant i wish i am

  • tiffany July 14, 2015, 5:52 pm

    I took 4 pregnancy tests and they all came out with two lines but one really light one .. Could I be pregnant..?

    • Shaqueena January 14, 2016, 7:57 pm

      If it has two lines its positive the second line is always lighter then the 1st

  • Timothy May 14, 2015, 4:01 pm

    hi I am 20yrs old my girlfriend and I had sex a week ago on her 4th day of her periods and the condom burst while i was thrusting backwards now she has fears of getting pregnant also she gets quite wet when she thinks of sex can this be a sign that maybe she is pregnant should I be worried that she is pregnant. please reply back

  • jasmeen March 28, 2015, 1:24 pm

    hi my name is jasmeen .i miss my periode .i was suppose 2 get my periodes the 17 of march still i havnt got it .whats the problem nd my discharge is white im warried what does it mean help

  • Simone January 15, 2015, 7:32 pm

    I haven’t had period since November 19 and my breast have been sore and tender I am scared that I am pregnant even though it’s something I really want because I am 30 yrs old. Please help me to figure this out.

  • Jasmine December 17, 2014, 3:02 pm

    Hey. My name is Jasmine I am 20 years old and I have a question. … I started my period on the 21st- the 28th and Sep 21-28 and Oct 21-28 and I was spoting on the 10th, 11th, 13th, 17th, 19th, 20th, and the 26th of Nov this year 2014 I just want to know what wrong with me am I pregnant or not
    Please help…

  • lisa goodman December 7, 2014, 3:12 pm

    I took a test and got 2 line and onelune is very faint but I took a different type and it said not pregnant not sure if its hcg not high to pick that test up

  • tori November 9, 2014, 7:20 pm

    Hello my name is tori I’m 21 years old I’m married me and husband has been trying too have a baby I’m 3 months late on my period I keep taking tests and they were all negative I have symptoms my breasts are tender and sore my shirts have been getting tighter and my mood swings are horrible I need y’all help to answer my question it’s my first time to have a baby too

    • jessica November 29, 2014, 8:37 pm

      hi…..most of d tym i.hav irregular periods but dis tym i hav been missing it since last 6 days.. do u thinks i can b pregnent?

  • Danielle November 7, 2014, 3:32 am

    Hi! I’m scared because I did have unprotected sex and I have been getting pegnancy like symtoms like breast tender, back pain, and nausea but i did get my period. I took a home pregnancy test before my period was coming I did go positive, i ended up quickly going to the client and the pee test went negative. I went up for blood work and went negative as well. A week later after i was done my period, I did another blood work test and that went negative. I’m not sure what to make of that and i need to know because I don’t want this pregnancy and I have no clue what to do!

  • joyee November 3, 2014, 4:38 am

    hello,mam i am 22 year married girl.since my 1st period its always regular.last mnth i got period on 24th nd september too.my husband nd i had sex after 12th without any protection as we were expecting that i will get period on 21th to 25th october but yet i haven’t got it.and pregnancy symptom for exam- tiredness’ backache’nipple dark’vmtng feel’breast milk production’ abdominal cramp nd i took two at home pregnancy test nd they all camp up negative.i’m not sure what to do,plzzzzzz any advice ?

  • joyee November 3, 2014, 4:32 am

    hello,mam i am 22 year married girl.since my 1st period its always regular.last mnth i got period on 24th nd september too.my husband nd i had sex after 12th without any protection as we were expecting that i will get period on 21th to 25th october but yet i haven’t got it.and pregnancy symptom for exam- tiredness’ backache’nipple dard’breast milk production’ abdominal cramp nd i took two at home pregnancy test nd they all camp up negative.i’m not sure what to do,plzzzzzz any advice ?

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