Are At-Home Pregnancy Tests Accurate?

Are you wondering if you might be pregnant? If you’ve had sex since your last period, even if you used protection, there’s a chance you could be. As you consider going to the store to buy a pregnancy test, you might be asking, “Are at-home pregnancy tests accurate?”

The answer to that depends on who you ask. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Home tests are very accurate (around 97%) when used correctly…If you take a test too early, you may get a false negative (when the test says you are not pregnant, but you are). Your body needs time for the hormone to rise to a high enough level to be detected in a test. If the test comes back negative, but you still think you could be pregnant, wait a few days and test again” [1].

How Pregnancy Tests Work

Home pregnancy tests use your urine to search for the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or HCG. If a fertilized egg attaches to your uterus lining, HCG will be produced by your body. It takes 7 to 12 days after the egg has implanted for hormone levels to rise enough to be detectable.

The way urine is collected for a home pregnancy test varies by manufacturer, but it is usually either collected in a cup and the stick is dipped in or a dropper is used to place some on the testing unit. Sometimes, the stick end of the test is put directly into the urine stream. 

Follow the instructions for your particular test carefully, paying attention to how long after your period is missed before you take it, how long to wait before reading the test, and be familiar with how to read the test results. Some displays will say pregnant or not pregnant, while others use symbols or lines.

When Should You Take a Pregnancy Test?

You should take the test the week after your missed period for the most accurate result. If you don’t wait long enough, the results could be a false negative. This means you are pregnant, but not enough HCG is available to be detectable yet. This is why manufacturers will tell you to repeat the test two days later.

There are some early pregnancy symptoms that you might experience. If you do, you may want to take a pregnancy test, or come see us at Pregnancy Care Clinic for a no-cost pregnancy test that you can be sure is done correctly. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone else take care of the details and be there to support you no matter what the test results are.

Early Pregnancy Symptoms

A Missed Period: This is the most reliable symptom of pregnancy. To calculate a missed period, take the first day of your last period, count forward 28 days, and that is approximately when your next period is due.

Cramps: When implantation takes place, you may have cramps, similar to menstrual cramps. This can lead you to think your period will be coming soon.

Tender Breasts: Your breasts may be sore and swollen. This happens because your estrogen and progesterone hormones have started to increase.

Just Don’t Feel Right: If you just don’t feel right, have nausea, fatigue, food aversions, or frequent urination, especially on top of other symptoms, this could indicate a pregnancy. [2]

Let Us Make It Easy for You

Let us make it easy for you to find out if you are pregnant. Schedule an appointment to come in for a no-cost pregnancy test. Our licensed medical professionals will administer the test for you and, if the test comes back positive, will offer you a no-cost ultrasound to tell you if the pregnancy is viable and how far along you are.

At Pregnancy Care Clinic, we understand that an unplanned pregnancy can be scary. We are here to provide a safe place where you can get answers to your questions and to help you work through the situation in a caring and non-judgmental environment so you can make informed and thoughtful decisions about your future.

[1] American Pregnancy Association. (2019, January 18). Taking a pregnancy test. Retrieved from https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/taking-a-pregnancy-test/.

[2] American Pregnancy Association. (2018, November 24). Pregnancy symptoms—early signs of pregnancy. Retrieved from https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/early-pregnancy-symptoms/.