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Not All Pregnancy Tests are Equal

When you're trying to conceive (TTC), you may feel compelled to take Home Pregnancy Tests (HPTs) from the day after ovulation through the two week wait, despite being very well aware that it is too soon to get an accurate result.

Some of us on the TTC journey become connoisseurs of pregnancy tests. We may be loyal to our favorite "go-to" brands or we may grab whatever is on sale. Does it make a difference? Definitely!

Here are four facts about over-the-counter HPTs:

  • More expensive doesn't necessarily mean more accurate. Pregnancy tests measure the presence of hCG – what some docs call the pregnancy hormone. Some tests detect smaller amounts than others and so are more accurate earlier. You can call the toll free number on the side of the box to see what level your test measures.
  • You can get a positive on one test and a negative on another. Since some tests are more sensitive than others, you can test positively on a highly sensitive test and then test negative on a less sensitive one.
  • A positive test doesn't necessarily mean you're pregnant. It's true that false positives are very rare and that the presence of hCG generally points to a pregnancy. But a woman may also have hCG in her blood after a miscarriage or after an hCG trigger shot. In very rare cases, hCG indicates a tumor on the pituitary gland. In short, if you get a positive test, contact your doctor.
  • A negative test doesn't necessarily mean you're not pregnant. It may be that the test you're using isn't sensitive enough to pick up the hCG in your blood. Since hCG doubles each day in a healthy pregnancy, wait a couple of days and try again or get a more sensitive test.

Still in doubt? Ask your fertility doctor for a blood test. While a urine test can detect the presence of hCG, a blood test can measure the exact amount for a definitive answer. Most fertility doctors encourage patients to refrain from using home pregnancy tests because tests can vary and a blood test is the most accurate way of determining if you have ovulated and conceived or your fertility treatment cycle was a success!