Is Your Home Pregnancy Test Accurate?

Is Your Home Pregnancy Test Accurate?

During Monica and Chandler’s wedding on Friends, Rachel reveals she’s pregnant. “Are you sure you peed on the stick right?” Monica asks. “How many ways are there to do that?” Rachel replies, before agreeing to take another test.

Well, there are more ways than you may think—and how you do it really does matter.

Even though home pregnancy tests are 99 percent accurate IF done correctly, you can get a false positive or false negative. So…

  • Check the package’s expiration date; out-of-date tests may be inaccurate.
  • Pregnancy tests check levels of HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, that’s only present during pregnancy. Best to test upon waking up—urinary levels of HCG are most concentrated. Don’t drink lots of liquid before a test. This could dilute HCG levels and give you a false negative.
  • A false positive may result if an egg is fertilized but fails to implant.
  • Check results within the suggested time frame; the water line left by dried urine can look like a second line—and mislead you.
  • If you recently had a miscarriage or abortion, HCG remains in your body for about two weeks and can cause a false positive.
  • Some infertility medications contain HCG and can produce a false positive, too.
  • Certain cancers, ovarian cysts, kidney disease or UTIs can raise HCG levels, causing a false positive.

A positive result? See your doc to confirm. And if you experience any unusual pain after missing a period also head to the doc, even if your pregnancy test was negative.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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