Pregnancy tests: How accurate are they?

If you think you might be pregnant, the first thing you’ll probably do is head to the drugstore to buy a home pregnancy test. You might even buy several because whether you are trying to get pregnant or not, you want to be sure. And you may wonder, how accurate are those little pink lines that show up on the stick? 

How do pregnancy tests work?

The two types of tests, blood, and urine, both measure presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone starts being produced when a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus, and production rises quickly over the first few weeks of pregnancy. Blood tests given by a doctor are able to confirm pregnancy earlier than urine tests because they can detect lower levels of hCG. Home urine tests will typically work from the first day of a missed period if administered correctly, but some home tests are more sensitive to hCG levels than others.

The test is negative. Can I be sure I’m not pregnant?

You may still be pregnant. False negatives can happen for several reasons. You could be pregnant but still get a negative result if:

  • You take the test too early in the pregnancy. Wait a few days and repeat the test.
  • Your urine is diluted. Take the test first thing in the morning for the best results.
  • The test is past its expiration date. Don’t use the test you put in the medicine cabinet five years ago!
  • You checked the results too soon. The test instructions will tell you how long the test takes to work.
  • You are taking medications that could interfere with the test, like antihistamines or diuretics.

When should I see a health care provider?

If your test is positive, you’ll want to schedule your first prenatal appointment with an Ob/GYN. This doctor will make sure the pregnancy is progressing normally, give advice, and answer any questions or concerns you have.

If you get a negative result but still think you might be pregnant, you can get a second urine test or a blood test from a health care provider. At our Urgent Care centers, we offer on-site rapid urine pregnancy tests that can give results in two or three minutes. 

Whether your home test is positive or negative, if you are experiencing severe pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge, high fever, severe low back pain, or severe vomiting, seek emergency medical care right away. 

Test for pregnancy at urgent care

We know it can be a nerve-wracking time thinking you may be pregnant, whether you are trying to get pregnant or not. If you have a concern about being pregnant, you can have a medical evaluation at an Urgent Care center near you. If you would like an evaluation, you can be seen same-day by walking-in or saving your spot online. We are open seven days a week and holidays.