Is a Cheap Pregnancy Test Worth It? (Updated 2018)


Think you might be pregnant, but worried about the cost of a home pregnancy test? Name brand tests can be expensive, but is a cheap pregnancy test reliable? With many dollar stores and drug stores selling more affordable pregnancy tests, you may be wondering if it’s worth it to buy the pricey name brand tests.

Do Cheap Pregnancy Tests Work?

In short, yes. Cheap pregnancy tests do work. The technology that allows for at-home testing is the same no matter whether you’re paying $10 or $1 for your test.

Many moms who have used both the expensive brands and the cheap brands have found that the inexpensive tests were just as sensitive as their brand name counterparts.

Yes, some of the more costly tests can detect a pregnancy earlier than cheaper tests. However, if you are pregnant, all tests will come up positive eventually.

That being said, there are some differences between tests.

Different Test Types

Pregnancy tests comes with an absorbent strip that checks your urine for hCG, the pregnancy hormone. Some tests will have what is called a test line that lets you know that you performed the test correctly. All tests will also have a test line that will let you know if you’re pregnant.

Some tests have simple basic lines. Others may show a plus or minus sign. Others may flash a digital message that says “Yes” or “Pregnant”.

Inexpensive pregnancy tests may work a little differently. Oftentimes, these come in a cartridge container. Rather than urinating on a test strip as you would with most other tests, you will be required to urinate in a cup. Then, using the included dropper, you will need to transfer a few drops of your urine to the test strip.

Strips vs. Non-Strips

Strips vs. non-strips pregnancy tests on the white.

Most women are familiar with non-strip pregnancy tests. The term “non-strip” can be misleading as all pregnancy tests use a strip of some kind to test urine. Non-strip tests may require you to urinate on a strip that is encased in a hard plastic housing, or urinate in a cup and transfer drops of urine onto the strip.

Strip tests are a little bit different. These are actual strips that will need to be dipped or submerged in a cup of urine. Strips are just as accurate as any other pregnancy test, but they tend to be cheaper and come in larger packs. This allows women to do multiple tests without having to spend a large amount of money. If you are on a tight budget, strips may be the best option and can be purchased online, or in some stores.

Are Cheap Pregnancy Tests Worth It?

Is it worth it to buy an expensive test, or are cheaper tests the best option? The price of a test doesn’t necessarily reflect its accuracy, so keep that in mind. If you plan on taking multiple tests, cheap tests may be your best option.

Some women like to start testing early and before their missed period. It’s often difficult to get an accurate test result when testing early on, so multiple tests may be needed over a span of a week or two to achieve accurate results.

Are Cheap Tests Good for Early Detection?

This can be a difficult question to answer. Some women have claimed that cheap tests have detected pregnancy just a few days or a week after conception. However, it’s rare for tests (even the most expensive ones) to detect a pregnancy this early.

Many of the more expensive tests, like First Response, claim to be able to detect pregnancy very early on. First Response, in particular, can detect a pregnancy 6 days before a missed period. Some cheap tests may also claim to be able to detect a pregnancy as early as five days before a missed period. Always check the test’s package to see if it’s designed for early detection.

Early detection tests will be able to detect hCG levels of 25mIU/ml (the level that’s considered pregnant). Keep in mind, however, that even if you are pregnant, your hormones might not reach this level for a few weeks. For this reason, doctors often recommend waiting until a week after your missed period to start testing.

Can a Negative Test Result Be Wrong?

The woman looks at the pregnancy test doubtfully.

False-negative results can happen with either a cheap pregnancy test, or an expensive name brand one. The accuracy of your results depends more on when you take the test than what test you use.

Some of the factors that might affect the accuracy of your test include:

  • Taking the test too early: If you take the test before your missed period, you may get a false-negative result. Even with early detection tests, there is a chance you could be pregnant if you take the test too early. In some cases, hCG levels won’t be high enough to detect pregnancy until a few weeks after implantation.
  • Too much fluids: If you drink too much fluids before taking the test, it may dilute your urine and the amount of hCG in your urine. This may cause a false-negative result. For best results, take the test first thing in the morning when your urine is highly concentrated.

False-positive results are uncommon, but possible. Certain medications, namely fertility drugs, may raise hCG levels. Menopause or an ectopic pregnancy can also create false-positive readings.

[Read more about Negative Test]

Is a Cheap Pregnancy Test the Right Option for You?

The type of pregnancy test you choose is a personal decision. Cheap tests may be a great option for women who want to take multiple tests, while expensive tests may be the best option for early detection.

If you think you might be pregnant, choosing a pregnancy test is not a decision to take lightly. Expensive tests may be able to detect pregnancy early on, but cheap tests are just as accurate, especially if you wait one week after your missed period to test. Positive tests taken close to or on the day of a missed period are 99% accurate regardless of the brand or cost of the test. All brands have a much higher accuracy rate when the test is taken after a missed period.


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