Hello all my soon to be mamas! I wanted to share with you guys my experience with at home pregnancy tests. If you are anything like me, you see a faint line and then promptly pee on 8 more sticks just to be sure that what you saw is really what you think you saw! You ask yourself is that a real line or an evaporation line? Your not sure so you hold it up to the light… or better yet you take apart the whole damn thing because maybe, just maybe, there is a second line under there that you couldn’t see through the clear plastic covering! Or maybe, you dread seeing that second line and you will do whatever it takes to verify that it’s not there. Either way, I’m going to share with you guys my experience with several different home pregnancy tests, how to increase your chances of a more accurate result, and the gold standard for getting that yes or no answer that you are looking for.
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How do home pregnancy tests work?
So for starters let’s do a brief run through of how a home pregnancy test works and what it is actually looking for in your urine. It is testing for the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (commonly referred to as hCG) that is released by the placenta into the bloodstream soon after implantation. No hormone, no baby.
So when it finally comes time to pee on that stick, the only way you will test positive is if you indeed have a bun in the oven. Now the key is to have enough hCG hormone in your urine to make the test turn positive. The hCG hormone is measured in mIU/ml. Most home pregnancy tests have a minimum sensitivity between 25 and 50 mIU/ml. So in order for your pregnancy test to have a positive result, you need to have an hCG level of 25 or greater at the time you pee on a stick. So when you are standing in the drugstore pondering which test to buy; get the one with the lower sensitivity rate (should say on the box). The more sensitive the pregnancy test, the sooner you will get a positive result, and the more accurate it will be.
So which pregnancy test do you use?
First response (25 mIU/ml but some studies have tested as low as 6.5 mIU/ml): This is my go to every time and has not failed me yet. I prefer the pink lines over blue, as the blue dye seems to cause more evap lines in my experience. The only downside is that first response changed the handle of the test to be curved rather than the preferred flat style. I think this was intended to make the test easier to use, but instead it can make the results harder to read. This is especially true if you have a very faint second line right where the window curves. Is it there or not? However, I was able to get a faint positive 4 days before my missed period because of the increased sensitivity of this test despite the curved window. If the line is truly there, you will see it!
Dollar tree: I tried this one once and it does get the job done, especially if you are pinching pennies. However, the second line I got was light and looked like an evap line (it had blue dye) so I wasn’t sure if it was a positive result until I took a clear blue digital later on.
Clear blue digital (25 mIU/ml): worked great for me! I specifically bought this one because it says how far along you are. Is it accurate? Who knows lol but it makes it a little more exciting. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to digitals is that there is a small computer that is reading the result for you, so beware of false negatives and false positives. I always use a regular test and then a digital to confirm if I am unsure of the results.
E.P.T: I tried this one a couple of times before I was pregnant with my daughter. Even though it is blue dye (that many of us feel is more likely to give you an evap line) the positive result is a plus sign that I think makes it harder to get a false positive. My negatives were clear as day.
It is also cheaper than clear blue or first response.
Answer pregnancy test from Walmart (25 mIU/ml): This test is very similar to first response however it is not as sensitive. I liked the fact that it is cheaper though and has the pink dye that is less likely to give you an evap line.
Gold standard: If you don’t want to mess around with peeing on a stick then by all means ask your doctor for serum quantitative hcg (blood test). I say to do a serum quantitative hCG instead of the serum qualitative hCG because the quantitative gives you a number. This can sometimes help diagnose whether or not you are miscarrying later on down the road should you have some vaginal bleeding and your hCG level has dropped. Another way to confirm pregnancy is with an ultrasound but most physicians will not order one unless you have already had a positive urine or blood test.
How do I ensure I never get a false negative result?
Always use first morning urine, as it is more concentrated! You want as much of that hcg hormone in there as possible to get an accurate result. I can’t tell you how many times we send off urine in the ER for a pregnancy test and it comes back from the lab saying it was too dilute!
I pee in a cup and dip the stick, rather than peeing right on the stick. Yes, this is an extra step but I felt like I was eliminating the common mistake of not getting enough pee on the stick. So buy some disposable cups, dip for 5 seconds (or however long it says on the box), take it out, replace the cap, and wait.
Be mindful that hcg takes about a week after implantation to show up in your urine. So if you ovulated late and therefore the embryo implanted around your missed period, you may get some false negatives for another week or so.
Also, pay close attention to how sensitive the test is that you are buying. The home tests measure hCG in mIU/ml. Some tests are more sensitive such as one will be 25 mIU/ml and another will be 50 mIU/ml. In this case if your hCG is 28, you would test positive on the more sensitive 25 mIU/ml test and negative on the 50 mIU/ml test.
I hope these tips help!! However, keep in mind that crazy things happen. I have had patients tell me they peed on 8 sticks, all different brands, following the directions exactly, and they all showed negative. Then a blood test comes back positive! So you never know!
What is your favorite pregnancy test to use and do you have any other tips/tricks?