Whereas women used to have to go to their doctor to find out whether or not they’re pregnant, they can now purchase easy-to-use pregnancy tests from their local drug store. However, there are several factors that can affect the accuracy of these home pregnancy tests.
These over-the-counter tests are not as accurate as those performed in a doctor’s office. The technology employed in a physician’s pregnancy test do not have the high potential for false positives or false negatives as do the store-bought version.
How Do False-Positive Pregnancy Results Happen?
A false positive is when a woman’s home pregnancy test reveals that she is pregnant even though she is not. In contrast, a false negative is when the test shows that she is not pregnant even though she actually is.
If a woman takes the pregnancy test close to the time when she also experienced a pregnancy loss, such as a miscarriage or an abortion, then the test could come out as a false positive. A fertility drug might also produce a false positive, as can an ectopic pregnancy, perimenopause, or an illness that affects the ovaries.
Mere human error when taking the test at home can also affect the accuracy and can produce either a false positive or a false negative result. A test that has expired may not produce correct results either.
How Can I Get Accurate Results from a Pregnancy Test?
A pregnancy test that is performed after the first day of a missed menstrual period will produce more accurate results. Avoid using expired test kits, because the chemical within the test loses potency for detecting the presence and levels of the hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone. Often called the “pregnancy hormone,” hCG can be detected one week after the egg is fertilized.
How a Pregnancy Test Works
Ovulation determines the timing of fertilization. A fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall at different times, and will affect hCG production.
The home pregnancy test may not detect the level of hCG in a woman who experiences irregular periods. Irregular menstrual periods complicate testing, as it becomes more difficult to determine the first day of a missed period.
As an embryo develops, hCG levels increase – but these levels peak as the pregnancy nears six weeks. The levels of this hormone therefore dissipate, but they never fully disappear from the woman’s body during pregnancy, so this hormone will always be evident in a correctly performed home pregnancy test.
OB/GYN in Syracuse, New York
Gynecologists, obstetricians, maternal and fetal medicine specialists, midwives, and nurses are all available to women here at University OB/GYN Associates. Our experienced medical team provides pregnancy testing, prenatal care, Pap smears, Well Woman health checkups, and other services surrounding women’s healthcare.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (315) 464-5162. You can conveniently fill out our patient registration forms now and bring them with you to your appointment in order to save time in the waiting room. We look forward to being your healthcare partner!