Pregnancy can be an exciting planned milestone or a bit of a surprise, but either way, most women want to get the results of a pregnancy test as quickly as possible.
With so many options on the market these days, there are a number of places where people can buy a pregnancy tester.
Here’s a quick summary of where to buy pregnancy testers, and best practices for actually testing.
Where Can You Buy Pregnancy Tests?
Pregnancy test strips are widely available, but some locations offer better options than others.
- One of the quickest and easiest places to pick up a pregnancy test is at your local pharmacy, grocery store, or drug store. Common pregnancy test brands include First Response, Clearblue, and ClinicalGuard.
- Online retailers such as Amazon also carry a wide variety of family planning aids including ovulation tests and pregnancy tests, some of which may be easier to read than others.
- Pregnancy tests are also available from or at Planned Parenthood Health Centers community clinics, and your OB-GYN or primary care provier. Most of these providers will use a similar urine-based pregnancy test kit to screen for pregnancy. While you can get the same results at home, some women feel more confident in having a professional interpret the results, as some pregnancy tests can be hard to read. In some cases, healthcare providers may use a blood test in order to test for pregnancy or confirm a pregnancy.
What Is the Cost Range of Pregnancy Tests?
While the classic two-line test is still around, there are now also digital pregnancy tests that clearly say “pregnant” or “not pregnant” on the display, with some even noting the estimated number of weeks of the pregnancy.
Some options, like Clearblue Digital tests, even include features like a Smart Countdown progress indicator that counts down how much time is left until the test results are ready.
Digital tests, early result pregnancy tests, and other more advanced testing options are typically more expensive than simple home tests.
You may also find that you want to purchase a combo pack, which could include a digital test as well as a more basic early response pregnancy test, and will cost more than a single simple test.
Tests taken at a healthcare provider’s office are likely to be much more expensive, since you will be paying for the cost of the doctor’s office visit, too, which is why women usually wait to schedule a confirmatory doctor’s visit until they’ve done a preliminary at-home preganncy test.
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons against the higher costs when deciding the best pregnancy test for your situation — many women opt to use cheaper tests if they believe the chance of pregnancy is low, while more expensive tests are usually used if the pregnancy is planned or highly likely.
Many women also end up using multiple pregnancy tests to confirm results, using different brands and types as failsafes against one another.
Note that pregnancy tests are often eligible for reimbursement with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA), or other healthcare reimbursement fund — so you may not have to pay out of pocket at all.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
Pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine or blood.
This hormone is found in much higher levels in pregnant people, which is why false positives are unlikely to occur (though they are possible).
Some tests, like the Clearblue Rapid Detection Pregnancy Test, offer results even before the date of the first missed period. However, it does take some time for levels of hCG to build up in the body enough to be detectable by a standard pregnancy test, so tests that are taken too early during a pregnancy may come back as negative even if a patient really is pregnant.
The body creates more hCG each day someone is pregnant, which means that women are more likely to receive a positive pregnancy test the later they test in their potential pregnancy.
While many at-home pregnancy tests can begin to detect hCG about 10 days after conception, most pregnancy test providers recommend waiting until after a missed period to take a pregnancy test.
That said, some women may find that they still need another several days after a missed period in order to accurately obtain a positive result, and may test again if they’re experiencing other symptoms like morning sickness.
Are Pregnancy Tests Accurate?
For something that can be purchased at a drugstore for just a few dollars, pregnancy tests are surprisingly accurate.
Most at-home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate when used correctly.
However, there are some factors that affect the accuracy of a pregnancy test.
Because hCG needs time to build up in the body, pregnancy tests are more accurate when taken after the first day of a missed period, or about 14 days after conception.
Some pregnancy tests claim to be able to detect pregnancy up to 5 days before a missed period, but these tests are generally less accurate and may produce a false negative result.
Therefore, the most accurate time to take a pregnancy test is after a missed period.
Pregnancy tests detect the amount of hCG in a woman’s urine.
Early on in pregnancy, the amounts of hCG can be very low and may produce a false negative result, particularly if a woman has consumed a lot of fluids in the hour or two right before testing.
As a result, it’s recommended that women take their pregnancy test first thing in the morning during their first bathroom visit of the day — this is the time when hCG levels are most concentrated, and the pregnancy test should be most accurate.
If that’s not possible, women should avoid excessive fluid intake if testing later in the day.
Expiration and User Error
Believe it or not, pregnancy tests do expire. Using an expired pregnancy test can yield a false negative result, so make sure to check the expiration date on the packaging.
Pregnancy tests are also much less likely to be accurate when user error is involved.
This can result from not waiting the appropriate amount of time before checking the result, not leaving the testing strip in urine for the correct amount of time, or not positioning the test correctly while waiting for results.
To ensure an accurate test, it’s important to follow the directions on the packaging carefully.
When Should You Take a Pregnancy Test?
The best time to take a pregnancy test is after an expected period has been missed, as this is when the test results are likely to be the most accurate.
Women should take a urine pregnancy test first thing in the morning with their first urine in order to ensure that the potential concentration of hCG is at its highest in order to avoid a false negative test result.
Is It Possible To Get a False Positive Pregnancy Test?
False positive pregnancy tests are very uncommon, but they can happen.
A false positive test result indicates that hCG was detected in the urine even when the patient was not actively pregnant.
This typically occurs for one of two reasons: the test did not work properly, or there was hCG in the patient’s body for another reason.
If hCG is detected but the patient is not pregnant, they may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy (in which a fertilized egg begins growing in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus, which is very dangerous) or they may have taken the test too soon after taking fertility drugs that contain hCG.
The Bottom Line
Pregnancy testers, more commonly referred to as simply pregnancy tests, are available at your local pharmacy, grocery store, drug store, Planned Parenthood Health Center, local medical provider, and community clinics.
Pregnancy tests should generally be taken after a missed period, and with the first bathroom visit of the morning in order to produce the most accurate results.
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Bridget Reed is a Tampa-based content development manager, writer, and editor at GR0; specializing in content related to varying fields including medicine, health, and small businesses. Bridget went to St. Petersburg College and majored in Management and Organizational Leadership.
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