Can You Rely on Your Home Pregnancy Test to Give You Accurate Results?

April 19, 2009 by  
Filed under How to Get Pregnant

Before the advent of home pregnancy tests, pregnancies could only be confirmed by visiting a physician and waiting weeks to get the report from the lab! These days, it takes only two minutes!

Home pregnancy tests utilize the same diagnostic tools and procedures as those used by medical laboratories. Both work by detecting whether the hormone hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) is present in the blood or urine, as well as its level. For a home pregnancy test, all that is needed is a urine sample, since removal of blood in any way is a chilling prospect for most folks.

There are two main factors that establish the value of a home pregnancy test. These are sensitivity and readability.

Readability: Some tests are easier to understand and read compared to others. Some have numbers, others change color depending on whether you are or not, while most just tell you ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’. Go for the one that you’re comfortable with.

These days, the probability of getting a false negative or a false positive is less than five percent! Waiting too long can affect the results, since the indicator may show a variable response. Most home pregnancy tests made by big pharmaceutical companies are dependable.

The dependability of the test also lies in the quality of the test. In fact, as the sensitivity of the home pregnancy test to the hCG hormone is increased, so is the possibility of getting a false positive! Some women test positive, even when they aren’t pregnant, such as new mothers or those who have recently miscarried. Some drugs also boost the levels of hCG, which leads to false positives.

Hence, if your home pregnancy test computes lower amounts of hCG, try again in a few days. There is no home pregnancy test that will directly determine whether you are pregnant or not. This can be done at a clinic, whereby the technician will scrutinize that the fertilized ovum is actually in the uterus. So a home pregnancy test is not totally reliable, if we look at all the facts here.

Some pregnancy tests are so sensitive that they can read hCG hormone levels of 25 mIU/ml (milli International Units per milliliter). This is a test with a high sensitivity, and may give a false positive. Home pregnancy tests should indicate ‘Pregnant’ when the levels of hCG are higher than this, maybe 50 or even 100 mIU/ml. In any case, the unit is not important to us, the number is!

However, by doing so, the whole point of doing the home pregnancy test becomes null and void. This is because you have to be farther along in your pregnancy to have higher levels of hCG in your urine, and the whole point of testing early is lost, since most of these home pregnancy tests are actually marketed as Early Pregnancy Tests. The other main dilemma of this is that you can get a false negative, even though you are pregnant!

In any case, most women use the home pregnancy test for its expediency. If it indicates positive, then you’ll have to see a doctor to confirm it fully. Most of the home pregnancy tests on the market today contain a number of strips, so that you can do the test twice, or even thrice, within a few days. If it shows a positive more than once, your odds of being pregnant are greater.

In any case, follow the directions on the box carefully and you’re assured of the right answer ninety five percent of the time. Which are really good odds, right?