How Accurate Are Pregnancy Tests?

By
Stacy Zogheib
- November 14, 2017

Pregnant or Not Pregnant? How Accurate is the Test?

How Accurate Are Pregnancy Tests?

Some people say that a pregnancy test is the most advanced technology you'll ever pee on. A pregnancy test contains a strip that reacts to the presence of human chorionic gonadropin, or hCG. This is a hormone that your body produces only during early pregnancy, so it makes an ideal test marker. Most pregnancy tests will give you an answer in 2 to 5 minutes, but experts recommend waiting up to 10 minutes to be sure of a result. In general, home pregnancy tests are about 97 percent accurate when used correctly, so if the test says you're pregnant, there's a good chance you really are.

Peeing on a Stick

Taking a pregnancy test can be an exciting, hopeful, or nerve-wracking experience, depending on whether or not you want to be pregnant. There are a few different types of pregnancy tests, but they are all about equally accurate. Some tests use a stick that you hold into a stream of urine while other tests require you to urinate into a cup and then dip a test strip into that. Most pregnancy tests are accurate starting the first day of a missed period, but is possible to jump the gun and take a test too soon. Getting a negative pregnancy test right after you miss your period doesn't always mean you aren't pregnant. Your best strategy then is to wait a few days and take another test if your period hasn't started yet. Be sure to use your first morning urine rather than waiting until later in the day, since morning is when the HCG is most concentrated. Follow the instructions for the test you are using and make sure the test isn't expired. If the test is positive, no matter how faint the line or marking, you are most likely pregnant. False positives on a pregnancy test are rare.

Other Types of Pregnancy Tests

Blood tests are another type of pregnancy test. These can only be done in a doctor's office, but they can detect pregnancy as soon as 10 days after ovulation. The results take a bit longer to come back than a urine test, so they are often used to confirm the results of other tests. Doctors performing in vitro fertilization or other fertility treatments may use a blood test to confirm pregnancy as soon as possible after ovulation and treatment. Blood tests measure the amount of hCG in your system and can also be used to tell how many weeks along you are. Your hCG levels will continue to rise in early pregnancy, so blood tests are also used to be sure that your pregnancy is progressing like it should.

What to Do Next

If you get a positive line on a pregnancy test, no matter how faint, you are most likely pregnant. The level of hCG in your system will continue to rise, so subsequent pregnancy tests may show a more definite positive result. Call your doctor or other health care provider to set up an appointment. He or she will most likely use a blood test to confirm the pregnancy and begin prenatal care to keep you and the baby healthy. Whether you are excited, apprehensive or both about being pregnant, your life is going to change.

About the Author

Stacy Zogheib's writing has been published in various online publications. She is a teacher and developmental specialist with experience teaching first grade, special education and working with children ages 0 to 3. She has a Bachelor of Arts in elementary and special education from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio and a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Northern Arizona University.