You’ve likely seen someone take a pregnancy test in a movie or on TV. But you may wonder how the tests actually work and whether or not they are accurate. Have you ever heard of a false-positive pregnancy test?
Pregnancy tests use a sample of your urine to check for the pregnancy hormone called hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin. A woman’s body begins to produce hCG after the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. When hCG reaches detectable levels, pregnancy tests will show a positive test result in the form of two lines, a plus sign, or words.
Though drugstore pregnancy tests are 99% accurate, there are many factors that could give a false result. For instance, if you take a pregnancy test too soon, you could have a false negative result because the hCG hormone hasn’t reached detectable levels quite yet. False-positive pregnancy test results, on the other hand, occur for a number of reasons.
Possible Causes of a False Positive Pregnancy Test
Ectopic pregnancies are pregnancies in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes. Even though these pregnancies aren’t viable, they will still produce detectable levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG, often resulting in a false positive pregnancy test.
This condition can cause prolonged bleeding and damage to the reproductive organs and requires immediate medical attention. The best way to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy is through an ultrasound.
In some cases, a fertilized egg is unable to implant or begin developing, resulting in what’s called a chemical pregnancy.
Women will often experience a chemical pregnancy without knowing it, sometimes mistaking one for a heavy period. However, if a pregnancy test is taken, it’s possible pregnancy hormones will still be detected, resulting in a false positive.
Previous Miscarriage or Abortion
If you’ve recently had a miscarriage or abortion, it’s possible your body will still contain detectable levels of hCG, meaning you may test positive if you take a pregnancy test. After your pregnancy has ended, it’s important to visit your doctor for follow-up appointments to ensure all pregnancy tissue was removed or expelled and you’re not at risk for an infection.
User Error or Test Malfunction
Taking a pregnancy test can be a stressful event, but it’s important to remain calm and follow the instructions carefully for the most accurate results.
Before you take any pregnancy test, make sure it hasn’t expired. Expired pregnancy tests can result in malfunctions, including false positives.
For the most accurate at-home results, be sure to take your pregnancy test at least one week after your missed period, even if the test boasts “early detection.” Take the test first thing in the morning before you’ve had anything to drink to avoid diluting your urine.
It’s also important to check your results at the exact time allotted in the instructions. Checking too early, before the test has time to detect hormones, might result in a false-negative. Checking too late might result in a false positive, as an evaporation line may appear after your urine has evaporated.
For the most accurate results, visit Pregnancy Options Miami for free lab-quality pregnancy testing!
Certain Medications and Pre-existing Conditions
In addition to pregnancy-related conditions, a false-positive pregnancy test result can be related to certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, ovarian cysts, or cancer.
If you’re taking certain medications, you may also be at risk of receiving a false-positive test.
How to find out if you’re really pregnant
Not only will an ultrasound scan confirm your pregnancy, but it will also provide you with insight into your pregnancy, including gestation, location, viability, and any health conditions you might need to address.
Schedule a Free Appointment
If you think you may be experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, a client advocate at your local pregnancy clinic can walk you through your pregnancy options and the resources available to you during this time.
If you’re located in the Miami area, Pregnancy Options Miami is here to help! We provide free pregnancy services: lab-quality pregnancy testing, ultrasound scans, options consultations, abortion consultations, and more!