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True or False? False Negatives in Pregnancy Tests

Posted on 13 September 2012 by Annerley

Is it true that you can get false negatives in pregnancy tests? If it is true, can you also get a ‘false positive’?

Hulda replies:

False negatives in pregnancy tests and false positives in home pregnancy tests are both very, very rare. The pregnancy tests can appear as negative when it is done too early as your hormonal levels are relatively low or if your urine is not concentrated at all (for example, after you drink a lot of fluids).

The best time to take the test is in the morning. If your pregnancy test still appears to be negative despite feeling that you might be pregnant, repeat the test in a few days because usually the hormonal levels will have come up enough to confirm the pregnancy by then.

Generally, you can trust the results of pregnancy tests as they very rarely produce wrong results. I have not seen a “false positive” result from a pregnancy test in my entire career, except after a pregnancy and the hormonal levels were still high.

Usually, the test is the last thing you need to confirm the pregnancy, since most women would have many prior signs that would indicate the pregnancy.

Experts suggest that you should wait at least a week after a missed period to get the most accurate result. Results may also be more accurate if you do the test first thing in the morning, when your urine is more concentrated.

Urine home pregnancy tests are about 97% accurate. Blood tests are even more accurate than this.

How accurate a home pregnancy test is depends upon:

  • How closely you follow instructions.
  • When you ovulate in your cycle and how soon implantation occurs.
  • How soon after pregnancy you take the test.
  • The sensitivity of the pregnancy test.

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