A home pregnancy test is what most women globally take to determine if they are pregnant or not. We are fully aware of how to proceed with one but most of the time is when we get misguided results. There are varying reasons why the test will go wrong every time you try it. That is why this guide is available to give some of the setbacks involved.
From choosing the right kit available on the market to correct timing, you will learn about:
- How home pregnancy tests work
- Six things you should know about expired pregnancy tests
- Why do I get false positive and negative test results?
- How to choose the right pregnancy test kit
Are you ready? Let’s begin.
Table of Contents
- How Home Pregnancy Tests Work
- Six Things You Should Know About Expired Pregnancy Tests
- Why Do I Get False Positive and Negative Test Results?
- Four reasons why you get a false negative result
- What should I do if I keep getting a false negative?
- 10 Reasons why you get a false positive result
- What should I do if I get a false positive?
- How to Choose the Right Pregnancy Test Kit
How Home Pregnancy Tests Work
During early pregnancy, production of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) occurs and increases as you progress. It is the hormone that aids in placenta formation and fetus development. The test kit bought has a chemical that detects the amount of hCG in your urine to determine if you have already conceived or not.
Six Things You Should Know About Expired Pregnancy Tests
If you have been feeling nauseous for the past few days and you want to know if the course is a developing embryo, taking a test kit from your cupboard will be the first to think about before heading to the stores. The question that you should ask is whether the package is expired or whether it will be useful after the extended stay.
Here are 6 things to note when using an expired home pregnancy test kit.
1) Do pregnancy kits Expire?
Every product has a lifespan, so the kits are no exception. If you have tried to get pregnant after a long time, the last thing you need is a pregnancy test that you are not sure of the results. Apart from having a faulty kit, what you should be considering is if it is still valid for use by checking the manufacture and expiry dates on the pack.
2) How long do pregnancy kits last before the expiry date?
There are so many kits available on the market so expect different options from various brands. The lifespan of most pregnancy test kits is between 2-3 years from the date of manufacture. The cheaper packages have a short lifespan, and it is not a wonder to find some no longer working months before the expiry date. Expensive kits, on the other hand, have more shelf life and it is also possible for them to work months later after they have expired. That is why you need to check on whether the kit is within the stipulated working period. A tip here is to take one that is closer to the manufacturing date or at least 6 months from expiring.
3) Why do pregnancy kits expire?
The reason for expiry is due to the deteriorating effects of the chemical that tests the presence of hCG in urine. Once it becomes, ineffective, chances of getting the right results are minimal. That is why they have the month and year of expiry to seize you from using in the following month after it has expired. Do not think of using a kit in the coming July if it was dated June since you will be devaluing the life of your future baby.
4) Does expiry occur in early pregnancy test kits?
For early pregnancy testing, you may opt for a rapid test which has a higher sensitivity when compared to the standard types. So, it can detect low hCG levels in urine. At times, it can also tell if you are pregnant or not before you notice that a period is missing on your calendar. If you are still asking if they expire, yes they do, just like the usual kits. The only difference between the early test kits and the standard ones is the level of sensitivity.
5) Do expired kits really work?
Most women can buy the argument that the kit will still work even if it is a few months after the date of expiration. At times, it is true, but the results you get are bound to conflict. If for example the kit was dated to expire in June, some may say that it is still viable come July since the stick cannot differentiate the days. What a stun reasoning!
There is a reason as to why the manufacturer places the expiry date on the package. It is to avoid getting disappointed while using the kit if the time has already passed. If the equipment remains in the store for more than a year, the hCG detecting chemical slowly declines its effectiveness which means that it is weaker than the day it came to the store.
Most of kits claim to be 97-99% accurate when used following the right directions. The accuracy however does not hold true for the expired ones. That is why you are likely to get false results when you use an expired test kit regardless of whether it is still viable after expiring. It is rare to get a false positive using them but possible especially if the package was exposed to extreme moisture or heat.
6) What to expect when using an expired kit
The results you get from an expired stick depend on the quality, how much the detecting chemical has degraded over time, and whether you pregnant or not. There is only one thing here, you cannot trust the results you get from an expired pregnancy test kit.
Just be prepared for the wrong results and do not have a fast conclusion. In case you used an expired one, counter check your results with another one that is way before the expiry date.
Why Do I Get False Positive and Negative Test Results?
Apart from the expiry of your test kit, are there other things that can make a pregnancy test go wrong? The hope of getting pregnant can be killed by other factors too which means that other aspects can render the false results.
Here, we will be looking at some of the issues that bring false negative and false positive results.
Four reasons why you get a false negative result
1) Early pregnancy test
Unless you are using the early pregnancy test kit, taking a rapid test using the standard types will bring a false-negative test. Why? During early pregnancy stages, the hCG hormone is at its lowest levels hence tricky to detect. That is why you are recommended to take the test one week after missing your periods. If you cannot wait for seven days to pass, go for the blood test from your doctor.
2) Dilute urine
The perfect time to take a test is in the morning and not during the day or at night. If you consume too many fluids, the false-negative result can be due to urine dilution which makes the hCG almost undetectable.
It is essential for you to wait for the test time if you want to see actual results. Most women cannot hold for some time hence false-negative results. The instructions show how long it will take for the kit to show the valid answer. You can set a timer to make sure that you gave it the needed time so that you don’t mess the eagerness mood to get pregnant.
4) Using wrong directions
At times, we get the wrong results due to failing to follow the right guidelines. If the test specifies that you use the first urine in the morning, please do so without question or alteration whatsoever. Also, check on whether the test requires dipping in the urine or midstream testing. It is not a wonder to find tests needing a 10-minute wait period for result to come, otherwise what you will see is invalid.
What should I do if I keep getting a false negative?
One of the options is to wait for a few days or a week and retake the test which includes using a different kit every time that is not near the expiry date. Another option is to have a pelvic examination or a blood test.
If your tests keep showing you a negative, and your periods are not starting yet, it is time to see the doctor right away. Many things could be the cause of your missing period. They include:
- Extreme exercising
- Weight loss
- Hormonal imbalance
Only a health care provider will be able to determine why you are still missing the periods when in such a position.
10 Reasons why you get a false positive result
It happens when a fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus. Mostly, it occurs in the fallopian tubes. It is never a valid pregnancy due to the future complications that result if the fetus starts to grow. Make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible if you experience excruciating abdominal pain.
2) Chemical pregnancy
There are situations where pregnancy starts, but there is no further development. Implantation takes place in the uterus, but the fetus does grow. At such a juncture, the body will still be producing significant amounts of hCG which are detectable when you take the test.
After it has happened, it will take some time before lowering of hCG levels, usually weeks. When taking a test after an early miscarriage, the results could be a false positive.
4) Fertility drugs
Fertility drugs mimic or contain hCG hormones when consumed. That is why you will get a false positive when taking the test after fertility treatments such as an IVF.
5) Error while using
It occurs when reading the test too soon or very late. Sometimes, evaporation lines appear, and it is possible to mistake that with a positive. Again, that is why you need to read the manufacturer instructions carefully before using the kit.
Some of the medicines you take could be the cause of hCG detection in your blood and urine. They may be diuretics taken to retain excess water, benzodiazepines to cope with anxiety or even antihistamines. A theory holds that these medications can bring false positive results if you had a miscarriage or chemical pregnancy which both leave traces of the pregnancy hormone in the bloodstream. What they can do is to increase the hormone’s level to a detectable point slightly.
7) Leaving the test sitting for too long
After urinating on the stick, what follows is waiting for the results. It is okay if you feel like taking your mind off the kit for a while and somehow forget. This leaves the test contemplating on the results for too long. It is for this reason that you might see a faint line since urine evaporated during the extended waiting period and interpret it as positive while it is not the case.
It is advisable for you not to trust what you see if you are checking way past the recommended time for the results to show. Usually, it is 10 minutes.
8) Medical conditions
If you have a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or an ovarian cyst, either of the three may alter your results to a false positive. For the first two complications, what happens is getting a contaminated urine sample containing white or red blood cells. This is what gives you the false positive. It is not always the case since every brand can have its specifications but impurities, in general, can give you the wrong results.
Ovarian cysts or the brain’s pituitary gland disorder can agitate the production of hCG hormone, so you get a false positive or hormones producing the same results as hCG presence. Cancer can produce little amounts of the hormone too and depending on the kit you are using, detection is possible.
It is a false form of pregnancy where the affected women are convinced that they are pregnant, but it is not the case. They will experience what a pregnant woman goes through from morning sickness to a growing belly which will bring a false positive result when they try the test.
What brings this condition is not yet known. The researchers, however, relate it to hormonal and psychological dysfunctions that occur in women with a strong urge of getting pregnant but they cannot due to other problems. The solution here is going for an ultrasound to confirm everything.
10) The aging effect
When women attain the menopausal age, they may get a positive test result in both urine and blood. The reason for this is due to the hCG hormone secretion caused by the pituitary gland. It is detectable when tested yet the woman is not pregnant. According to a study done in 2005, the hCG levels rise after women attain the age of 55.
What should I do if I get a false positive?
You still do not know if you are pregnant especially if you are trying. Getting mixed results or false ones needs you to check with the doctor for a blood test among other procedures. Whenever you get a positive result, arrange for a prenatal appointment or start adjusting to accommodate the pregnancy and the coming baby. The positive effect could be a false one or actual pregnancy.
How to Choose the Right Pregnancy Test Kit
One rule: Check the expiration date before proceeding with the test. Anything that is 6 months closer to the time of expiration might not be suitable for you. Always take one that is closer to the manufacturing date.
Counter check the dates on the outer casing with the ones on the stick. They should be similar or not far from each other. You are trying to get pregnant here and very eager so, do not let something stupid such as an expiry date ruin your day with the wrong results.