You’ve probably arrived here because you are searching the internet to find out just how accurate are pregnancy tests? For nearly seven years, every month, I would stare at the indication panel, hold it up to the sun light, check it every 5 minutes for the next 24 hours, shine a torch on it…sound familiar? All this for just for the glimmer of hope that perhaps there is a second line, even a faint line, then I would wonder – did I do it too early, at the right time, maybe it’s faulty and I should do it again…lol! This site is to give you all the information you need, along with reviews of the best pregnancy tests, what to look out for and other general information.
So, how accurate are pregnancy tests?
There really is no short answer for how accurate are pregnancy tests, but the accuracy percentages, as high as they are for quality home pregnancy tests depends on following a few important but basic guidelines, which we have included here at pregnancy test guidelines. Prefer just to skip to the accuracy figure? OK. A really good quality home pregnancy test (HPT) can be as high as ninety nine per cent (99%) accurate. BUT, and this is big but, you can ONLY achieve this level of accuracy when using a quality pregnancy test and in accordance with the manufacturers specific instructions and by following the basic but important guidelines. So…. how accurate are pregnancy tests when I don’t pay any attention to the brand instructions? You can easily render a home pregnancy test result invalid, as in not accurate and thereby giving you the wrong result by not following the guidelines (this advice is from a woman who has pulled them apart, drank more water and used it again because 1. I had run out of tests or 2. just wanted to make sure, and also who despite the very first test in the morning being negative went to the shop and bought another brand, drank more water and tried again…I know I know!)
These days you don’t have to wait until you have missed your period before using a home pregnancy test. Tests these days are far more sensitive and can be used at around 10 days past ovulation. Most women – not all (don’t forget we are all unique and this may not apply to you), ovulate around 13-14 days before a period is due, but can range from 12 to 16 days before a period is due. (Note – I ovulate at day 10, so I would recommend an ovulation tester as well because a day or two out makes a big difference!) The upshot here is that you really don’t have to wait for a “missed” period before using a HPT. If your period is “irregular” or you have recently gone off “the pill” knowing exactly when is the earliest you can use a HPT is more difficult to judge.
Home pregnancy tests work by detecting very small amounts of hCG in the urine of the expectant mother. Essentially, the smaller the amount of HCG a test can detect, the more sensitive it is, meaning the sooner that particular test can detect pregnancy. For example a home pregnancy test (HPT) that can detect 25mIU of hCG can be used around 10 days past your ovulation day to detect early pregnancy. There are some newer extra sensitive pregnancy tests that now detect just 10mIU.
When I finally fell pregnant the second time (PS – I was so certain I wasn’t because I had raging PMT!) I did a test at 7 days (nothing), at 8 days after ovulation and thought I had just saw the hint of a line, but on day 9 my husband could see it also although it was very faint still. The one on day 10 was as clear as can be, and I have reviewed the ones I used and some new ones for you in the best pregnancy test section.
There is more general information regarding here how accurate are pregnancy tests.
How accurate are pregnancy tests in regards to the luteal phase?
It’s one of those things with pregnancy tests, that you need to know how your body works in order to understand what the results are. So first off we need some information about the luteal phase, because it plays an important part.
Simply put the luteal phase is the second half of your cycle, from the time you ovulate to the time you get your period. This time span is usually 14 days, and is often referred to as the two week wait (TWW) if your trying to get pregnant. This is when the corpus luteum (which is the follicle of the ovary) starts making progesterone as compared to estrogen which is made in the first half of the cycle. Progesterone is really important for the egg for a few reasons, firstly it keeps the body warm (probably which is why they say your like an “oven” when your pregnant), plus it builds up the lining of the uterus from the egg to implant into. Lastly, it stops you getting your period, because the progesterone doesn’t drop like it does just beforehand, instead it keeps increasing.
As far as how accurate are pregnancy tests when you decide to start testing, does depend upon how long your luteal phase is. For most women it is 14 days, but can be as low as 10 and as long as 17, unfortunately a short luteal phase is also known as a “luteal phase defect” where there isn’t enough progesterone to sustain the pregnancy. Basically if there isn’t enough progesterone, the lining of the uterus will break down, or not be sufficient for the egg, and you will get your period. Really, the best way to know about how long your luteal phase is to do BBT (basal body temperature) charting, and this information you can take to your doctor as you might find that there is a simple solution to a hormonal balance such as herbs, progesterone creams etc.
Some of you may be wondering how accurate are pregnancy tests if you consume tea or coffee? It’s an interesting question, but the caffeine won’t affect the pregnancy test, but remember caffeine is a diuretic, which means you tend to pee more, thereby you may be inadvertently diluting the test. If the urine is diluted then this will affect the result if you were pregnant, and it wouldn’t be likely to show positive at the same time had it not been diluted.
There is also some evidence that a high coffee intake has been associated with a increased risk of miscarriage, so you should cut down on your caffeine intake if you are trying to become pregnant. The study that revealed this information found that women who were drinking eight or more cups of coffee a day actually doubled their chances of a miscarriage. Whereas, consuming about 2 cups of coffee a day increased the risk slightly. Caffeine does pass through your body to the fetus, and will increase the baby’s heart rate which is definitely not recommended on a growing fetus. You can always have decaffeinated coffee and tea, or juices, water and some herbal teas (you should check these with your Doctor first). When you get pregnant you tend to find that you only want to do the right thing, so you will probably find your coffee won’t be as inviting as it once was anyway! So caffeine itself won’t affect how accurate are pregnancy tests.
If you are wondering how accurate are pregnancy tests, then you should definitely consider doing ovulation testing. Although I am yet to find a reliable and accurate digital pregnancy test, I can say that the Clearblue Easy Digital Ovulation Test is a winner because it takes the guessing game away. If you’ve already done some ovulation testing, you know that the traditional type of ovulation test means that you have to try and decipher the darkness of the line, and to whether it’s the right time to start trying to conceive to get pregnant. This can be a bit of a problem when your not sure “is the line dark enough yet” or not and then you test the next day and the line is lighter and you realise you’ve missed your chance – frustrating!
So the Clearblue Easy Digital Ovulation Test gives you a month’s supply of little individually wrapped tests that you insert into the holder which clicks into place. Once the “ready” symbol appears you just put the absorbent tip into your urine stream for about 5-7 seconds. You then put it on a flat surface, and the little light flashes and then after about 3 minutes the results appears. If there is a circle that means that no LH surge has been detected yet and to test again tomorrow. If there is a smiley face, then the LH surge has been detected and you can stop testing and start having intercourse over the next 48 hours – it’s that simple!
This product gets consistently great reviews on Amazon, rating 4 1/2 stars on over 150 reviews! Some of the things other women have said are “easy to review;no more guessing” “easy and accurate” “this product works great!”
So when it comes to how accurate are pregnancy tests, I highly recommend starting with ovulation tests as they do make a huge difference if you have irregular cycles or are not sure when you ovulate. I found out that I regularly ovulated at 10 days after my period, and had I not used an ovulation test, I absolutely would not have gotten pregnant without that information.
It’s not just about how accurate are pregnancy tests, the information and myths surrounding how you can get pregnant should also be checked for accuracy. So let’s have a look at some of the common things you may have heard, or been told about getting pregnant.
- You can’t fall pregnant if you are breast feeding – False – You may find that you don’t get your period while you are nursing because it does change your hormone structure, but this does not mean you won’t get pregnant. Regardless of how often you are feeding your baby, you won’t know that you have actually ovulated again, when your body has released the first postpartum egg, until you get your period about 2 weeks later. You fertility is reduced when you are breastfeeding, particularly if you are exclusively nursing (and the baby is not sleeping through the night), but you should take precautions if you don’t want to get pregnant because everyone is different as to how their body reacts after having a baby. There are plenty of stories of women who exclusively breastfed and found out they are pregnant when their baby was only 2-3 months old, never having had a period!
- You can’t fall pregnant whilst you have your period – False – If you have a particularly short cycle and ovulate at day 9 or 10, or if you are at the end of your period you can definitely get pregnant. Sperm can live up to 7 days, which means if even if you have intercourse early in your period you can still get pregnant.
- If you fell pregnant easily the first time, other pregnancies will be just as easy – False – I have to say I’m testament to this one! Having gotten pregnant very easily at 25 with Number 1 and then not being able to get pregnant again until she was 10 years old. There is a phenomenon called secondary infertility, which means your “fertility ability” has changed since you’ve had your first baby.
- If you stop using the pill you can get pregnant straight away – False – the pill has hormonal effects on your body, and the majority of women find it takes a bit of time for their body to adjust and to start ovulating normally again. Having said that, there are most certainly cases of women stopping the pill and getting pregnant straight away, or even whilst being on the pill. For example antibiotics or having a stomach bug with diarrhea, can reduce the effectiveness of the contraception pill resulting in pregnancy
There are so many myths out there about getting pregnant, or not getting pregnant and a lot of friends and family are usually just trying to give you well meaning advice, not realising they are “leading you up the garden path” so to speak. If your not sure talk with your doctor or nurse who will be able to help you out.
When your are testing for pregnancy, and you are sure you see a faint line in the right spot on the pregnancy test you can think your eyes are deceiving you! When my pregnancy test was finally positive after 7 years of trying, my heart missed a beat because there had been so many times before when I had thought I had seen a faint line, and it wasn’t the case. So, I showed my husband and said “can you see a line there” and he said yes straight away, and then said “wait, what test is this…is this an ovulation test?” you know what most husbands are like, they aren’t exactly locked into our cycles like we are! Anyway, just so you know ANY faint line on a pregnancy test next to the test line is considered a positive result and means that you are pregnant. Please note this only applies to normal pregnancy tests, not digital tests. So a faint line means that you have reached the level the test can measure at the absolute minimum. For example, if the pregnancy test is one of the new 10mIU extra sensitive pregnancy tests, this means you have reached at least 10mIU of hCG in your body, as that is the minimum amount the test can register for. So if you are pregnant, and you have only reached 9.5mIU of hCG the test will not show a positive result, as the manufacturers have to have a baseline to avoid possible false positive results. If you see a faint line you should wait another day before testing again, and then the results should become a little darker and each day goes by. So you can see how accurate are pregnancy tests when you see a faint line, is that any line is a positive line. Don’t forget though, if the line shows up after the indicated time period on the instructions, then this can be an evaporation line as the test strip has dried and is not a positive result. Below is a picture of how a pregnancy test gets darker overtime, starting at 8dpo, so you can see how accurate the results are.
When you are want to know how accurate are pregnancy tests one thing that makes it easier to know if your pregnancy test is positive or not by being able to compare your test with other pictures and images of tests. So I have collated some photos of actual positive pregnancy tests so you have a comparison of your test to these ones. Although these are hard to see, this gives you an idea of what a faint line actually looks like, and if you look carefully you can see a faint line on all of these tests, and they are from quite early testing around 8dpo. You should be able to see the faint line in natural light, although I have to admit I have held mine up the the sun before and shone a torch on it! When you do the test again the next day, the line should be easier to see, and each day afterwards it will get darker. If you don’t see the line getting darker on the pregnancy test over the next day or two, please refer to the article on chemical pregnancies as it may mean the hCG levels are dropping. I will try and get some photos of some other brands as well, I hope this helps and good luck with your testing!
Even though we are all excited about the new extra sensitive pregnancy tests, there is one problem with how accurate are pregnancy tests that can detect the very low amount of 10mIU. This is because they can detect a chemical pregnancy, which in medical terms a very early miscarriage. The basis of a chemical pregnancy is where the egg has been fertilised, but has failed to implant into the wall of the uterus. The egg at this stage also hasn’t formed properly into an embryo and you will usually get your period at the normal time or slightly later.
The problem with this is that by testing with these extra sensitive pregnancy tests, you can get a positive result, only to get your period and realise that you are now not pregnant, which is absolutely heartbreaking. Having said that, the occurrence of chemical pregnancies is actually fairly common, and you may have had this happen to you before and not known because you haven’t’ been doing early testing. It has been found in studies that about 50 – 60% of all first pregnancies result in chemical pregnancies but usually tend to go unnoticed.
There can be many reasons as to why a chemical pregnancy happens, such as low hormone levels, abnormal chromosomes from factors such as poor quality sperm or eggs, also abnormal cell division, infections and sometimes illnesses (such as thyroid problems etc). If you believe you’ve had a chemical pregnancy, the best option is to go to your doctor and have a full check up with blood counts etc, in case there is something underlying that can easily be addressed. It also pays for your partner to have a full check up as well, particularly if you’ve been trying for 6 months and haven’t had a good result yet. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of women who have suffered a chemical pregnancy, go on to have normal pregnancies afterwards.
So if you are using the 10mIU extra sensitive pregnancy tests, and you get a faint line early such as 7 or 8dpo, make sure you keep testing everyday afterwards at the same time, so that you have a record that you can take to the doctor if you do get your period. I know once you see that line it is so hard not to tell the world, particularly if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, but keep a note of your symptoms and hopefully you’ll see that line get darker everyday ! I trust this gives you some more information about how accurate are pregnancy tests that are extra sensitive and can read the very low 10mIU levels of hCG.
Are digital pregnancy tests as accurate as the traditional pregnancy tests?
The funny thing is that digital tests cannot measure a very low amount of hCG level like the test strip pregnancy tests can and I haven’t been able to find a digital pregnancy test that has received very good reviews consistently. So at this stage I’m not going to recommend a digital test until we can see some better and consistent results. However, the reason digital pregnancy tests have come about is because apparently 1 in 4 women can misread the traditional tests so these are thought to be more accurate because there is not second guessing. However, I have found on most reviews a reasonably common fault that seems to be with these is a false positive, and that’s when they’ve tried 2 or 3 tests of the same brand/type only to find out they are not pregnant. Now, I know this can happen with evaporation lines on traditional pregnancy test strips, but at least you have that doubt in your mind until you really see that bright line a day or two later. I think if the digital pregnancy test was showing the word “pregnant” or a smiley face, that you are going to be over the moon, but from what I’ve read it might not be the case that you are pregnant. From someone who spend 7 year of “getting my hopes up” every month, if I had seen a digital positive message that wasn’t true it would have been too much to cope with to find out I wasn’t. Anyway, that’s my take on how accurate are digital pregnancy tests, and if a great brand comes out that gets really good reviews I will be certain to post it up to let you know. In the meantime, I would stick to buying the standard extra sensitive pregnancy tests that are very economical, but if anyone has had great results please let me know
When testing for conception, how accurate are pregnancy tests different if you use a test strip or a midstream version? Well, the only real difference between these two is really personal preference, having said that I haven’t yet found a midstream pregnancy test which can measure as little as 10mIU/ml of hCG like the new test strips can. Here’s more about the two different types -
1. A pregnancy test strip is more like the ones you would use or see at the doctors, they are just basically a strip that you dip into the urine that you have collected in a small cup. The best way to use one is to dip it vertically in and hold it for a few seconds and then lay it flat on a non-absorbant surface (which is clean and dry). These work the same way with 2 lines showing as a positive result usually after about 5 minutes. They can be a bit more fiddly to deal with as they are quite small and only about 5mm in width. You can’t use these where you hold the strip midstream, and this would definitely result in less accuracy of the pregnancy test. You can buy the proper collection cups, and these do make the job a lot easier to collect the urine, as they have a nice handle on the side and a little holder at the bottom to insert the pregnancy test strip into. Otherwise, you can use any plastic, clean and dry container (about the size of a dixie cup) and then just wash and re-use them.
2. The midstream pregnancy test tend to be a little more expensive than the test strips, although they are a bit easier to use. Basically you just remove the cap at the end of the pregnancy test, and then hold the stick midstream in your urine for about 6-7 seconds, replace the cap, and the results appear after 3-5 minutes. I have to say, that these can be a bit harder to get in the right place, and if you are testing (most likely because you are anxious and want to find out right away!) and don’t have a full bladder you can easily miss the stream, and not get enough fluid on it to absorb properly. Whereas at least with the container version above you can be certain that you’ve got enough before you waste a pregnancy test. But if you are testing first thing in the morning , when your bladder is full, then the midstream pregnancy test can be a bit easier because you’re probably not awake enough to deal with small fiddly tests and sample cups (I’ve sometimes got up at 5am tested, gone back to bed and then looked at it 2 hours later when I’ve got up – not recommended because you can get an evaporation line by then!)
Anyway, that’s my take on how accurate are pregnancy tests if you use a test strip or a midstream type, and hopefully that helps you out. I will talk about digital pregnancy tests in the next post
Ok, so if you are a “serial” pregnancy tester then I can tell you there isn’t a more horrible feeling when it’s 9dpo, early morning, your feeling pretty confident this month and but wait…there’s no tests left! This usually results in a couple of things 1. Frantically raiding the bathroom cupboards and cabinets, looking through the rubbish bin, emptying every pregnancy test packet and getting a chair to check the top back shelf “just in case” you left one somewhere! and 2. Trying to find a container to collect the sample in before you wet yourself, and hoping you can get down to the shops to get some more supplies (even if it’s in ugg boots and your pj’s). Now I know this might sound a bit extreme, but after a few years of testing with no results you do tend to go a bit crazy at times!
Luckily nowadays you can buy 10mIU/ml hCG extra sensitive pregnancy tests quite inexpensively, for example 30 tests would cost $28.50 (free shipping), which is very good value when sometimes I’ve paid about that for a pack of 3! So, my advice is to stock up, and when you get down to about 5 tests and you are getting to testing time, then it’s time to re-purchase. The other option is to buy ovulation and pregnancy test packs which consists of; for example 25 ovulation strips and 10 pregnancy test strips for $24.95. These are great, because you will usually use more ovulation tests than pregnancy tests, and will save you a bit of money off the regular price. Also, when it comes to how accurate are pregnancy tests, using the same brand and type all the time will help with your comparison and validity of the tests.
Now, I don’t know if you are as fanatic as I was, but I did also stash a couple at work and in the car, because sometimes we were away from home or for whatever reason I couldn’t test at home, so having so many pregnancy tests around knowing they didn’t cost much was a great piece of mind. These ones are quite small too, just the strips, so they don’t take up much room as compared to the plastic covered pregnancy tests.
When it comes to how accurate are pregnancy tests the first morning urine is the best option because it is more concentrated and therefore contains the highest amount of hCG hormone. If you use a diluted sample it can diminish the results of the pregnancy test, particularly if you are testing prior to when your period is due. If, for whatever reason you can’t use the first morning urine, then you need to have urine that has been in your bladder for about 4 hours. However, don’t try drinking heaps of water or fluid to “fill up” so to speak, because it will still be too diluted, so just commence your usual drinking patterns. One thing to note is that a lot of brands state you can test anytime of the day, but they will still say the first morning sample is the best and this applies to all pregnancy tests. When you are testing at 7 and 8dpo the early morning test is essential because if a faint line is going to show up, it will definitely be more likely at this time than any other time. Don’t worry, we all do more than one test a day sometimes when you just can’t wait another day, and if you do see a faint line with that first morning pregnancy test, you will absolutely doing more than one test that day! But, just remember that how accurate are pregnancy tests relies on the concentration of the morning urine test.
The basis of how accurate are pregnancy tests depends on how much hCG is in your system. Now that there are pregnancy tests you can buy that measure 10mIU/ml of hCG this will mean that you can detect a pregnancy very early, but to know how early you need to know some more information about when hCG levels are produced.
Firstly, hCG is also known as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (no wonder they made it shorter!) this is produced by the placenta when the egg is implanted into the uterus. So the sequence of events goes a bit like this -
- Ovulation and hopefully fertilisation (for most women ovulation is around 12-14 days after the start of their period, but this can be different which is why to buy a ovulation test kit is essential for you to know exactly when you ovulate, I was surprised to find out I regularly ovulated at day 10 after my period, as I had thought it was a couple of days later – finding out about these couple of days difference is the difference between you getting pregnant and not).
- The fertilised egg makes it way down the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it implants into the wall of the uterus -this takes about 6-10 days (some women do notice a tiny amount of spotting and/or cramping at implantation, as the egg “burrows” in).
- The hCG hormones are not produced until the implantation has happened, so at the VERY earliest for a small percentage of women the hCG hormones would start producing at 6 days after ovulation.
- The hCG levels start off tiny (less than 5mIU), but the good thing is they double every 30-50 hours approximately which means if you are using an extra sensitive 10mIU test, if you are pregnant and the egg has implanted at day 6-7, you could know by 8-9dpo. (Not to say that there hasn’t been faint blue lines seen at 7dpo, but if you really want to know the best thing is to start testing at 6dpo using the same brand of test so you can give yourself a comparison.)
- By 14 days past ovulation (when you are due for your period) your hCG levels are approximately 75mIU, the statistics on this are that 95% of home pregnancy tests are accurate at this time of the cycle.
Having said all that, these statistics are based on the average, so it can be quite hard to determine if you have irregular periods, early or long periods. But don’t despair, I know what it is like to test month after month, year after year with no results, and then one day there they were – two lines! (at 8dpo). Hopefully that gives you some good basic information on hCG levels and how they relate to how accurate are pregnancy tests.
So excited about this one! These early pregnancy tests can detect 10mIU of HCG present in urine, which is fantastic, because the best for a long time has been 20-25mIU. The reviews on these have been outstanding, and the best thing is you can buy them individually or in bulk, and the more you buy the cheaper they are! (starting at $1.07 each). I hated when I ran out of tests, so 20 of these is only going to set you back about $20 and includes free shipping for orders over $14.95. You will need a clean container or cup to dip the tip of the test strip in for a few seconds and results are shown in 5 minutes.
Some more information on these FDA-approved tests are:
- 99.9% accurate
- Calibrated to detect just 10miu/ml hcg in urine for earliest detection of pregnancy
- Individually packaged in sealed foil pouches
- 5mm in width (the maximum width for a test strip to facilitate easy interpretation
What other people have said – *first positive results at 9dpo! *shipping was very quick *Got a Very very faint positive at 8dpo!
It was a little time ago (August 2010), but it had some interesting information so I thought I would include it -
First Response surveyed 3000 mothers and found out some of the interesting behaviour we women undertake in trying to get pregnant -
- It took approximately 104 sex encounters before getting pregnant.
- 1 in 10 women would call their husbands home from work if they knew they were ovulating.
- Two thirds of the women in the survey conceived quicker than they thought they would.
- In order to entice the other half, 1 in 3 women tried to look more sexy when trying to get pregnant.
- 1 in 20 women were eager to find out the new that they took pregnancy tests at work.
- 1 in 10 women told their parents before their partner when finding out about being pregnant.
- 1 in 10 women would “jump” on their partners as soon as he came home if they knew it was ovulation time!
So, there you go!
Clearblue has always been one of my “go to” brands, and has a great reputation. This Clearblue Easy Ovulation Combination Pack is great, because you get 7 ovulation tests and 1 pregnancy test all in one. The ovulation tester really is essential if you are serious about getting pregnant, unless you are absolutely certain the days you ovulate I would highly recommend using these, and 7 gives you enough days to pinpoint it, so you can basically start a couple of days after the end of your period. This was how I found out I ovulated at day 10, because the first ovulation test I took at day 9 after my period started said I was fertile!
It’s easy to use, it is 99% accurate at detecting the LH (Luteinizing Hormone) Surge, pinpointing your 2 most fertile days. The pregnancy test is digital and you get unmistakably clear results in words, ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’. You can obtain your results 5 days sooner than your missed period (test up to 4 days before you expect your period).
This pack gets a consistently good review on Amazon and the pricing is very good.
(Tip – When it indicates you are fertile, do not wait until the second day to start trying to get pregnant, as you get older the eggs don’t survive as long and you want to already have “the boys in their position” so to speak for when the egg comes down the tube!)
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