A person holding a pregnancy test.
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Taking a pregnancy test: Facts and fiction

For as long as pregnancy has been around, there have been facts and falsehoods about how to test for it. Believe it or not, different variations of these myths are still around today.

Pregnancy test facts…and fiction

Here are some of the more commonly-held beliefs about taking a home pregnancy test, some of which are fact; others, fiction.

Fact or fiction? Your body starts making hCG after implantation.

Fact! After the fertilized egg implants, the placenta starts producing hCG, the pregnancy hormone. A woman’s hCG levels rise very quickly in early pregnancy, but the amount of hCG that a woman has can vary, depending on the individual. Some women have a lot of hCG right away, while others’ bodies take a little longer to start making noticeable amounts of hCG. This is why testing after a missed period can produce more accurate results.

Fact or fiction? Antibiotics can interfere with pregnancy test results.

Fiction. Certain fertility drugs that contain hCG could affect the results of a pregnancy test, but according to the Mayo Clinic, antibiotics or other hormonal medications like birth control pills don’t interfere with the results of a home pregnancy test.

Fact or fiction? You can use an ovulation test like a home pregnancy test to pick up your pregnancy early.

Fiction. In theory, you could, but it wouldn’t be worth the time or money. Basically, home pregnancy tests look for levels of hCG in a woman’s urine, and ovulation tests look for levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in urine. Both hCG and LH show up nearly the exact same on an ovulation test, so if a woman has enough of either hormone in her body, an ovulation test could technically detect the hCG and show that she is pregnant.

The reason why you can’t use an ovulation test in place of a home pregnancy test is because home pregnancy tests are much more sensitive to hCG. Unlike ovulation tests, home pregnancy tests can pick up on the pregnancy hormone much earlier than ovulation tests. If you use an ovulation test to check for pregnancy, you have a much higher risk of a false negative (and honestly, who wants or even has time for that?).

Fact or fiction? A blood test is the only way to confirm 100% if you are pregnant.

Fiction. It’s true that blood tests are more accurate than home pregnancy tests, but only slightly. Blood tests have an accuracy rate of 99%, compared to the 97% accuracy rate of home pregnancy tests that use urine. If you get a positive pregnancy test at home, your provider will likely perform another urine test in his or her office, along with an ultrasound to confirm your pregnancy.

Fact or fiction? Tests that use pink dye are better than tests with blue dye.

Both? There’s not a ton of scientific evidence about this, but many women report that blue dye fades and blurs in a way that makes it much harder to read on a pregnancy test. No matter what test you use, if you get a positive, make sure to test again a few days later, and then schedule an appointment with your provider.

  • “Pregnancy Test.” MedlinePlus. US National Library of Medicine, Oct 2016. Web. Accessed 8/18/17. Available at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003432.htm.
  • Liza Torborg. “Mayo Clinic Q and A: Ovulation predictor kits can be useful for couples trying to conceive.” MayoClinic. Mayo Clinic Foundation, Sep 2015. Web. Accessed 8/18/17. Available at https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-ovulation-predictor-kits-can-be-useful-for-couples-trying-to-conceive/.
  • “Getting pregnant.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Dec 2015. Web. Accessed 8/18/17. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940?pg=2.

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