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Can You Trust Your Home Pregnancy Test Results?

Alison Wood |18, February 2013


After months of trying to conceive, your monthly cycle is absent. On top of that, your nauseous, your breasts are tender and you have been extremely fatigued. Nervously, you drive to the drugstore and tepidly stroll towards the pregnancy tests. "What if it's positive?" you wonder. "Can I trust the results or will it just give me false hope?" Just to be sure, you grin and grab three pregnancy tests -- "Best two out of three!"

The majority of pregnancy tests are dependable and accurate. Almost every at-home test claims to be 99% accurate. However, the American Pregnancy Association states that most of at-home testing is 97% accurate. Therefore there is about a 3% a margin of error. To stay within the "correct reading" zone, try these almost error-proof tips.

Wait. Almost all of the pregnancy tests sold at your local drug store boast of giving a correct reading one day after a missed menstrual cycle. However, for best results wait one week after your missed cycle. This waiting period is more effective since the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in your blood increases rapidly during the beginning of pregnancy. It often doubles every two to three days!

Don't worry. That little bambino that may be living inside of you, is still going to be there in one week. Plus, there will still be plenty of time to share the good news and plan for your little one's arrival.

Be an early-bird. The HCG hormone that the pregnancy test searches for are most prominent in the morning. The first morning potty-run is most recommended.

Follow directions. As simple as it sounds, some women still incorrectly follow pregnancy test directions. If you afraid if not catching enough urine on the tester stick, find a clean container or cup and use it to hold a urine sample. Then, immerse the tester stick and follow the directions from that point. Make sure you put the amount of drops into the designated well to ensure a more adequate reading. Do not trust the results after an hour.

Following these tips will put you in the right path to determining if you're pregnant. While false-positives are very unlikely, false negatives do happen to a small percentage of women. Reasons for a false positive may be:

Reading results too soon.
Be patient and wait the allotted time to view the result of the test. If you are super-anxious, try setting a timer and leaving the room. When the timer goes off, return to the room and view the results then.

Testing diluted urine.
If you were downing lots of fluids before the test, you may have diluted your urine and therefore made it difficult for the test to trace the HCG hormone. Again, for the most accurate reading, use your first morning urine. It is more concentrated than other times during the day.

Taking the test too early.
Not waiting one week after your missed period can make the test unable to trace the low levels of HCG.

If your test comes back negative, and you continue to display signs of a pregnancy, wait another week and test again. If it is negative the second time around, you may need a blood test. Blood tests are more accurate than urine tests and can pick up low levels of HCG.

If you receive positive test results, set up an appointment with an OBGYN. Let them know this is your first pregnancy and you would like to confirm your pregnancy. An appointment will be made, and the doctors will be able to give you a definite answer through intensive blood-work, a urine check, an ultrasound and an examination of the cervix.

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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