The Pregnancy Test FAQ

October 28, 2019

We’ve gotten lot of questions about pregnancy tests over the years (after all, that’s where the parenthood journey usually starts). Here’s a quick run-down of the most frequent topics for reference – if you want to hear yours truly explain it more, check our Instagram highlights @myvillagebaby

Are home tests accurate?

Short answer: yes. The home pregnancy tests have come a long way – the good ones are now just as reliable as those we use in the clinic. The more in depth explanation involves false positives and false negatives. This is my favorite explanation of which one is which:

Credit: Effect Size FAQ

With urine pregnancy tests, you will basically never get a false POSITIVE (less than 1%). In other words, a positive means positive – even a VERY faint line. The downside of this very accurate and now 7-10 day earlier detection, though is that we pick up more positive hormone levels from fertilized eggs that do NOT go on to be healthy pregnancies. In the ‘old days’, you would have had a normal or slightly heavy period and never known you were pregnant. Today, however that is now known to be a miscarriage, or sometimes called a “chemical pregnancy”, and this happens about 1 in 5 positive tests (1). You can get a false NEGATIVE test for a few reasons. It might be too early to test, you might have a delayed period for stress, dietary or other reasons or the hormone levels might be low. If you get confusing results, ask for an appointment with your primary care doctor to discuss – they can order a blood test to confirm one way or another.

Which pregnancy test is best?

For this, we have 2 recommendations. The best early detection test (again, see above for why you may or may not want this) is the First Response Early Detection test. Get a 3 pack – you’ll use them. On the other hand, most women who are ‘trying’ to get pregnant test pretty frequently and at $4+ a test, that gets pricey! I recommend getting these Clinical Guard Pregnancy HCG Test Strips ($0.36 each in the 20 pack )and a small pack of dixie cups and using them for your regular testing. Save the fancy First Response to confirm when you get a faint double line.

How soon can I test?

This depends on your cycle. If you’re regular, you can start testing 5 days before your period is expected. You also don’t need to – you can wait until your period is late, of course. If your cycle is not regular, you can start testing from day 20 after your last period – usually every other day is a good pattern if you want to be ‘monitoring’, but again, you can wait longer. The other question that comes up about this is, if I test and it’s negative, am I ok to drink and party? The answer is – it depends. Drinking and drug use can result in a miscarriage at this early phase. If you do not miscarry, evidence shows no significant harm to the baby from having a few drinks in this “waiting period” (1). Take that into consideration.

What time of day?

Best results are first thing in the morning with that concentrated overnight urine – but you can test any time. More dilute urine can result in false negative tests, but by the next day, it would be positive in most cases.

Can I keep it?

This is one of the funny questions. Urine is sterile when it comes out – so do with it what you want, haha!

What other questions do you have?

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