Four positive pregnancy tests am i pregnant: How early can home pregnancy tests show positive results? | Your Pregnancy Matters

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How early can home pregnancy tests show positive results? | Your Pregnancy Matters


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Your Pregnancy Matters

June 28, 2022

Your Pregnancy Matters

Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M. D.

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Home pregnancy tests can be very accurate if used properly.

Since the earliest recorded history, women have had a strong desire to know whether they are pregnant as early as possible. The body goes through countless changes in the first trimester, and one of the first indicators is a change in the hormones that leave the body through urine.

Ancient Egyptians relied on a form of urine testing to determine pregnancy status way back in 1350 BCE. A woman urinated daily on wheat or barley seeds and if the plants grew, it meant she was pregnant. Modern-day validation suggests that test was about 70% accurate in detecting human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced by a woman’s body soon after implantation of a fertilized egg inside the uterus.

Thankfully, urine-based pregnancy tests have evolved substantially. Women now have access to advanced tests that can detect a pregnancy as early as eight days after ovulation. But while many home pregnancy tests are marketed as simple and effective, getting accurate results comes down to how early in your ovulation cycle you take the test.

Ovulation generally occurs around day 15 of a 28-day cycle. In a normal pregnancy, an egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and then travels into the uterus, where it implants in the uterine wall. After implantation, production of hCG starts from cells in the developing placenta (tissue that will feed the fetus). Trace levels of hCG can be detected as early as eight days after ovulation.

That means you could get positive results several days before you expect your period to start. However, the first part of your cycle is more variable than the second, making it tricky to determine the best time for an early test.

“Thankfully, pregnancy tests have evolved substantially since the 20th century. Women now have access to advanced tests that can detect a pregnancy as early as eight days after ovulation.”

– Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D.

When to take a home pregnancy test

The length of time from the first day of a period to ovulation can vary by several days from month to month. Sexual activity around ovulation leads to the possibility of fertilization of a released egg by sperm. But even then, the time frame for a fertilized egg to implant can vary. And hCG isn’t produced until after implantation has occurred.

For the most accurate results, we recommend testing in the morning on the day you expect your period to start. This allows for variability in the timing of ovulation, fertilization, and implantation. Testing in the morning provides a more concentrated urine sample.

Follow the directions carefully to get the best results. Before you take the test, make sure you understand what the readout for “pregnant” and “not pregnant” will be. Some tests still use two lines to indicate you are pregnant and one to indicate that you aren’t. However, many tests have switched to words such as “yes” and “no”, or “pregnant” and “not pregnant” for additional clarity.

Related reading: Is it OK to use a hot tub during early pregnancy?

Pregnancy test accuracy

Each type of pregnancy test is designed to detect a set minimum level of hCG. This is why pregnancy test manufacturers advertise the way they do: “Know four days sooner,” or “Accurate up to six days before a missed period.” However, while home pregnancy tests are quite accurate – many boast a 99% detection rate based on laboratory testing results – marketing claims can be misleading.

For example, a 99% detection rate means a test can detect hCG 99% of the time on the day you miss your period. These statistics also assume that women are testing at the optimal time and following all instructions correctly.

Many home pregnancy tests available today are midstream urine dip tests, which are the traditional “pee-on-a-stick” tests and are fairly easy to use. There also are tests in which you pee into a cup and dip a test strip into the urine. The New York Times published a story ranking the best home pregnancy tests, citing a midstream test with an ergonomic grip as the easiest to use and most accurate.

Research has shown that average test results when women used the dip tests matched lab test results just 70% of the time, whereas 99% of women typically can get an accurate reading from a midstream test.

False positive and negative results

When a test result is inaccurate, it’s either a false negative (the test says you are not pregnant, but you are) or a false positive (the test says you are pregnant, but you aren’t). Several factors can cause false negative results:

  • Having urine that is too diluted after drinking a lot of water or testing later in the day.
  • Testing too soon when there has not been enough time for a fertilized egg to implant and start hCG production.
  • Using a pregnancy test that doesn’t detect lower levels of hCG. You can check the package insert for more information about the level at which the test will be positive.

Sometimes an egg will implant briefly but will not be sustained. This is also called a chemical pregnancy – hCG is produced, but the pregnancy doesn’t continue. A test performed several days before an expected period can show a positive result, but the woman still gets her period soon or on time. Rarely, certain tumors can produce hCG, causing a pregnancy test to be positive even when a woman is not pregnant.

Related reading: It’s not your fault: Understanding miscarriage

When to see a doctor

Most women who have a positive pregnancy test should wait a week or so before calling the Ob/Gyn office for a pregnancy blood test or ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. We suggest waiting because the rate of early pregnancy loss is high, and it’s possible that you might have had a chemical pregnancy.

Women with a history of ectopic pregnancy or current abdominal pain should call the doctor right away to be examined. Ectopic pregnancies implant outside of the uterus and produce hCG, resulting in positive pregnancy tests. However, these pregnancies can cause abdominal bleeding and prompt medical care is necessary. Women who have congenital heart defects or other chronic physical or mental health conditions should also see a doctor right away because treatment plans or medications might need to be altered to protect the woman and the fetus.

Advances in home pregnancy tests give women greater insight into what’s going on in their bodies sooner than ever before. No matter what your childbearing plans might be, it’s essential to get quick and accurate results.

To visit with an Ob/Gyn, call 214-645-8300 or request an appointment online.

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False Positive Pregnancy Test: Chances and Causes

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant, seeing two lines (or a plus sign) on a pregnancy test is one of the most exciting experiences. Still, your knee-jerk reaction might be to ask yourself: Is it too good to be true? Rest assured that the vast majority of the time, if you’re getting a positive pregnancy test result, you are, in fact, pregnant! But every once in a while, a false positive pregnancy test can occur. It can be crushing to find out that you’re not actually expecting, and it may leave you with lots of questions and concerns. So what causes a false positive pregnancy test? Moreover, what are the chances of a false pregnancy test? Here, we’ll share how and why this may happen.

In this article:
What is a false positive pregnancy test?
How common are false positive pregnancy tests?
What causes a false positive pregnancy test?
Next steps: How to confirm a positive pregnancy test

What Is a False Positive Pregnancy Test?

Can you get a false positive pregnancy test? Yes, it’s possible in some cases, says Erin DuMontier, MD, an ob-gyn with BJC Medical Group and Missouri Medical Center. So what is a false positive pregnancy test, exactly? Well, it’s pretty much much what it sounds like: Your test result indicates that you’re pregnant when you’re in fact not.

How Common Are False Positive Pregnancy Tests?

Seeing a positive result and later learning you were never actually pregnant can be devastating. The good news for prospective testers is that the chances of a false positive pregnancy test are very low. So just how common are false positive pregnancy tests then? “False positive pregnancy tests are rare and occur less than 1 percent of the time,” confirms DuMontier. Generally speaking, there will be a contributing factor if you’re seeing a false positive pregnancy test. If not, you can assume the test you’ve used is faulty in some way.

What Causes a False Positive Pregnancy Test?

While a false positive pregnancy test is rather uncommon, there are a few things that can cause this to occur. Essentially, anything that introduces the presence of detectable amounts of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) into your body—other than pregnancy, of course—can lead to a false positive result. Keep reading for possible causes.

Recent miscarriage or abortion

If you get a positive result that you weren’t expecting, but you’ve recently had a miscarriage or abortion, you may simply have some pregnancy hormone lingering in your body. “hCG levels can remain elevated for up to four to six weeks after an abortion or miscarriage,” says DuMontier. In this case, you may want to wait another week to test again to ensure your levels are back to what they were before pregnancy (women have a very small, undetectable amount of hCG in their systems even when they’re not expecting). If you still see a positive result after that timeframe, it’s important to follow up with your doctor.

Chemical pregnancy

A chemical pregnancy is another potential factor. Since tests like First Response are so sensitive that they detect a pregnancy six days before the first day of the missed period, more and more early pregnancies are detected now, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an ob-gyn and clinical professor at Yale University. “Then, if that early pregnancy stops developing and the woman actually has a very early miscarriage, some women will think of that as a false positive.” Minkin elaborates that this isn’t actually considered a false positive result, though; in this instance, the woman was indeed pregnant at the time of testing. This is one reason why an early pregnancy test can be considered a double-edged sword. Despite the fact that a chemical pregnancy won’t progress, it can still take a while for hCG levels to go down.

Evaporation line

One of the more frustrating aspects of urine pregnancy tests is that the results need to be read within a certain amount of time. If you take the test and accidentally leave it sitting without reading the results, you can experience what looks like a positive result. In reality, it’s likely what’s called an evaporation line, a faint line that can occur when the test sits too long. The faint line appears after the test has dried, but most tests are meant to be read while they’re still damp, says DuMontier.

To avoid seeing an evaporation line, make sure you read the result within the specified time frame, says Minkin. She adds that many tests—like some from First Response—pair with an app that scans the analog test and converts it to a ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’ answer on your phone. This can “remove some of the ambiguity of reading tests,” she says. What’s more, every pregnancy test is slightly different. Read the instructions before using one to help eliminate the potential for human error and subsequently decrease the likelihood of getting a false positive result.

Expired pregnancy test

Believe it or not, pregnancy tests have an expiration date. Check the box, and throw it away if it’s past its prime. An expired test is more likely to give a false positive or false negative reading.

Medical conditions

Can you get a false positive pregnancy test from a medical condition? The answer is yes, but it’s not common. Heather Bartos, MD, an ob-gyn and the medical director of Be. Women’s Health & Wellness in Frisco, Texas, says that, while exceptionally rare, the following medical conditions can increase your chances of a false positive pregnancy test: ovarian cysts and/or cancer; cancer of the bladder, kidney, lung, colon, breast, liver or stomach; and pituitary gland disorders and tumors that produce hCG, such as ovarian germ cell tumors or gestational trophoblastic disease.

Certain medications

What medications can cause a false positive pregnancy test? Some can lead to an increase in hCG levels that are detectable by a pregnancy test, including fertility drugs; some anti-anxiety medications, like Xanax and Valium; certain antidepressants, such as Sertraline; antipsychotics, like Clozapine or Chlorpromazine; diuretics; antihistamines, barbiturates, Phenergan and other anti-nausea medications; and some drugs prescribed for Parkinson’s disease.

It’s important to realize that false positives from medications are rare, explains Bartos. “So many women take these meds, and we’d be seeing thousands of positive pregnancy tests each day if this was a common occurrence,” she says. That said, if you get a positive pregnancy test result and you’re on any medication, talk to your doctor.

What’s more, if you’re taking fertility drugs, your doctor has probably already walked you through the dos and don’ts of testing. “Women who are on fertility meds should not take a urine pregnancy test at all; rather, they should do a blood test with their doctor,” advises Bartos.

Next Steps: How to Confirm a Positive Pregnancy Test

Any positive pregnancy result warrants follow-up with your doctor. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant and you’ve gotten a positive result, call your OB or midwife’s office right away to get on their schedule. Most practices will schedule a first visit sometime between week eight and 10, unless you’re experiencing problems or have major concerns. Some will schedule an appointment earlier to confirm a pregnancy, but you may have to ask for this specifically.

Rest assured that the likelihood of a false positive pregnancy test isn’t high. But if you’ve gotten a result that you suspect isn’t right, consider testing again in a few days. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and follow up with your doctor as needed. Good luck!

About the experts:

Heather Bartos, MD, is an ob-gyn and the medical director of Be. Women’s Health & Wellness in Frisco, Texas. A navy veteran, she spent 12 years serving the women and spouses of the armed forces, and was an associate professor at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. She completed her residency at Baylor College of Medicine, and earned her medical degree at The University of Texas.

Erin DuMontier, MD, is an ob-gyn with BJC Medical Group and Missouri Medical Center. She completed both her residency and internship at George Washington University, and earned her medical degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.

Mary Jane Minkin, MD, is an ob-gyn and clinical professor at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. She is also the co-director of the Sexuality, Intimacy and Menopause for cancer survivors program at the Smilow Cancer Center. Minkin earned her medical degree from Yale University.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Top 7 Home Pregnancy Tests to See if You’re Expecting

When to Take a Pregnancy Test: the Best Timing for Accurate Results

Can You Get a False Negative Pregnancy Test?

How pregnancy tests work: how long after sex it will show the result, why it can be false negative or false positive, why the second strip can be dim, whether it will show when taking hormones — July 13, 2022 either result?

— During pregnancy, human chorionic gonadotropin appears in the blood and urine, then — hCG (a hormone produced by the outer shell of the embryo.Note. ed. ), the doctor explains to 59.RU. — Normally, it is determined in the blood and urine of a woman only when pregnancy occurs. It reacts with a chemical reagent that is impregnated with a test strip.



Definition of pregnancy from the first day of delay. Truth or marketing?

“If the tests are good and they contain a chemical that hCG sees, then pregnancy can really be determined from the first day of the delay,” says Natalia Karmatskikh. — And when donating blood for hCG, pregnancy is determined even five to seven days before the delay.



Is delay a benchmark for a test?

The doctor explains: if unprotected sex was the day before the expected start of menstruation, the test will not show the result.

— If there was an unprotected contact, then the test, if the pregnancy has come, will show a positive result in two weeks, — explains Natalia. — This is if everything is successful — the cycle is good, they got there on time, the man has no problems and the right amount of spermatozoa. Maybe this: unprotected intercourse, but the partner used some kind of creams, from which the spermatozoa died.



“It’s better to do the test in the morning” — true or myth?

It is believed that the test is best done in the morning, at the first urination, when the urine is concentrated. The doctor explains: this is not a delusion. The fact is that in the morning there is a cumulative concentration of hCG in the urine. The test can show a reliable result even during the day if the woman’s kidneys work well, but the gynecologist still advises to follow the rules.

— It’s better to do the test anyway in the morning, because during the day it can be weakly positive, not appear, the girl will doubt and be nervous. In order for the result to be reliable for sure and in order not to waste a lot of nerves, it is better to do a test at the first urination, Natalia Karmatskikh clarifies.

Note that there is no recommendation not to eat or drink before testing.



Test instructions indicate 99% accuracy. Is it so?

— It depends on which company. But 99% even the best manufacturer can not give. It happens that a woman is already six weeks pregnant, and the test shows nothing, the doctor notes. — Even if contraceptives give 95-98% reliability, then it is unlikely that the test gives 99%. It would be more correct to say: the accuracy tends to 99%.



Why do tests get false negatives?

According to Natalia Karmatsky, this happens if the test itself is defective (due to improper storage and other things) or if there is a small dose of hCG in the urine.



Why can the result be false positive?

— This can happen due to diseases of the ovaries and uterus — tumors, tumor-like diseases or ectopic pregnancy. And if the result is positive, but false, you need to do a smear, conduct an examination on a chair with mirrors, with your hand, be sure to do an ultrasound to see what’s in the appendages, Natalya Karmatskikh recommends.

After a complex of examinations, the doctor advises to monitor hCG in dynamics by blood tests — tests will no longer be needed. If doctors suspect something, they will look at tumor markers.

In addition to diseases, menopause can also be a cause.



How do hormonal contraceptives affect test results?

When taking hormonal contraceptives, the test result can be falsely positive or falsely negative. According to the doctor, this is due to the improper use of such a remedy. With proper use, this situation can not be.



What happens if the test strip is overexposed / underexposed in urine?

When using a pregnancy test, the doctor advises you to follow the rules, because there are nuances.

— This may not affect the result if the hCG concentration is good. And if there is little hormone there or there is a frozen pregnancy, then it will be difficult to determine it in the short term, the gynecologist explains. “So it’s best to do things the right way.



I took the test and forgot about it. Is the result distorted?

If you left the test for several days, there is pregnancy, and there are no health problems, then the second strip will not go anywhere, except that it may become a little paler.



There are two lines on the test, but one is pale. What does it mean?

— This can speak not only about pregnancy, but also about tumor-like diseases of the uterus or even the intestines. There may be an ectopic pregnancy or a frozen fetus, the doctor warns.



Test prices vary. Are they any different?

The doctor explains: there is no fundamental difference in the tests, the main thing is to store them correctly. More expensive are those that reflect the result in weeks, plastic ones, but in this case the period may be calculated incorrectly. If we talk about test strips, then their price depends on the promotion of manufacturers.



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    Can a pregnancy test be wrong



    October 28, 2020

    Two stripes almost never lie.

    How the pregnancy test works

    The pharmacy pregnancy test is technically simple. It is a reagent printed on paper that reacts to a specific substance — a hormone called «human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)».

    This hormone begins to be produced in a woman’s body only after the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus (endometrium). This usually happens about 6 days after fertilization. HCG enters the blood and urine, and its levels in these body fluids rise rapidly, doubling every 2-3 days.

    Image: BlueRingMedia / Shutterstock

    As early as 10-14 days after conception, home pregnancy tests detect the hormone in the urine and report it by highlighting the second strip or the corresponding window on the indicator.

    If you see two lines or a plus sign on the indicator, then you are pregnant.

    The error is almost impossible.

    Can a pregnancy test be wrong

    Sometimes yes. The likelihood of this depends on various factors, including the result obtained.

    When a pregnancy test can be false positive

    Situations where a woman is not pregnant and the test shows two lines are extremely rare.

    Therefore, it is considered that a positive result is almost always correct.

    However, it is worth knowing the reasons why a test may be false positive. Spoiler: many of them require a mandatory consultation with a gynecologist, so if you see two lines or a plus sign on the indicator, it is better not to delay the visit to the doctor.

    • You lost your pregnancy shortly after the egg was attached to the uterine lining. In this case, the embryo is no longer developing and technically you are not pregnant, but within 2-3 weeks, the test may still detect an increased level of hCG. Most often, such an egg is rejected and released with the onset of menstruation. But sometimes a frozen pregnancy can cause inflammation in the uterus.
    • You took a test immediately after taking a fertility drug containing hCG.
    • You have an ectopic pregnancy. This means that fertilization has occurred, but the egg has not fixed in the uterus, but in another place — the fallopian tube or, let’s say, the ovary. An ectopic pregnancy is deadly, it is impossible to bring it to a happy ending.
    • You are developing an ovarian tumor. It causes hormonal failure and inappropriate production of hCG.
    • You may be going through menopause. It can also lead to hormonal imbalances.
    • You are taking certain medications. For example, diazepam-based sedatives, diuretics, anticonvulsants or antiallergic drugs. If this is the case, you should not rely on a pharmacy test to determine pregnancy — it is better to take a blood test for hCG.

    When a pregnancy test can be false negative

    A false negative result is when pregnancy has occurred, but the test does not show it for some reason. This situation is more common. Therefore, doctors advise repeating the test after a few days if signs of pregnancy (for example, delayed menstruation, breast enlargement and tenderness, nausea) persist.

    These are the most common causes of a false negative.

    • You bought an expired or spoiled test.
    • You took the test too soon. And the level of hCG in the urine has not yet managed to rise so high that the reagents can catch it. Most manufacturers recommend doing the test no earlier than the first day of a missed period.
    • You were too quick to check the result. It takes time for sensitive substances to respond to hCG levels. It is indicated in the instructions. For example, the manufacturer may say: “Dip the test strip into urine, hold for 10 seconds, then lay it on a dry, horizontal surface. The result will appear in 4-7 minutes. If you check the test earlier than 4 minutes, you risk seeing a false negative result.
    • You took a test in the evening. The vast majority of manufacturers recommend checking if you are pregnant in the morning. This is important: it is in the morning that urine is most concentrated, and the level of hCG in it is highest. By evening, the content of human chorionic gonadotropin decreases, it is more difficult to catch it.
    • Before taking the test, you drank a lot of water or other drinks (tea, juice, compote, fruit drink). The liquid dilutes the urine and reduces the concentration of hCG.

    What to do if you think your pregnancy test is wrong

    Several options are possible. Choose any or try all in turn.

    Recheck the result

    Repeat the test the next morning. Or, better, in 2-3 days.

    When buying a second screening test, ask the pharmacist at the pharmacy to give you the most sensitive test available. Sensitivity is indicated on the packaging and is indicated by numbers — 10, 20, 25, 30. These numbers indicate the concentration of hCG in the urine (in mIU / ml) that the test is able to catch. The lower the number, the better.

    Take a blood test for hCG

    This is a more accurate and reliable option than pharmacy rapid tests. Using a blood test, you can catch a pregnancy as early as 6-8 days after conception — that is, even before a delay occurs.

By alexxlab

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