If you’re trying to get pregnant, you probably already know that you’ll have to pee on a few sticks along your journey.
But for something that seems so simple — apply pee to stick, wait, count lines — the process of testing whether or not you’re pregnant can be full of anxiety and uncertainty. What if the lines are faint? How can I be sure if the test was accurate? Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or simply think you might be pregnant, here’s what you need to know about pregnancy tests.
Pregnancy tests detect the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone released after implantation, in your urine. After you pee on the stick and wait however long the instructions prescribe, the presence (or lack) of HCG will determine whether you’ll see a positive or negative result.
If you use a traditional OTC pregnancy test, you’ll know implantation has occurred if you see two lines, also known as a BFP (big fat positive). If you only see one line, that’s a negative result, and you may want to take another test just to be sure. If you use a digital test, however, you might actually see the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant” appear on your test after the designated period of time.
There’s a wide range of prices when it comes to over-the-counter pregnancy tests. You can buy a box of two from a dollar store, or you can purchase a name brand pregnancy test for $15 for two dipsticks. You can even buy pregnancy tests in bulk for pennies on the dollar from an online retailer, if you think trying to get pregnant might take a while. But are cheap pregnancy tests reliable, or do you get what you pay for?
While different pregnancy tests may be able to detect slightly different levels of HCG in your urine, after the ideal waiting period (about a day after your period should have arrived), most FDA approved tests are over ninety percent accurate. That means that as long as you’re taking the test at the right time, there’s no reason to spring for a $15 test, unless you have a strong preference for a certain type of digital reading.
If you really want to upgrade your pregnancy test experience, however, you can try a more recent innovation: tests that tell you not only whether you’re pregnant, but how far along you are. Clearblue offers a digital pregnancy test that estimates how many weeks’ pregnant you are.Just remember that this technology is still new, and Clearblue reports accuracy varying between 45-99% when it comes to estimating weeks since ovulation (the test is still 99% accurate at reporting whether or not you’re pregnant). Only your doctor can confirm how far along your pregnancy is, but we're excited to see how the technology is evolving!
If you’re trying to get pregnant, chances are you’ve run into a few commonly used acronyms, including 2WW -- which stands for “two week wait.” That refers to the time between ovulation and the right time to take your pregnancy test (again, about a day after your period otherwise would have arrived, provided it’s regular). One of the most important aspects of making sure your pregnancy test is accurate is timing. If you try taking the test too early, you may receive a false negative.
Another important way to ensure your results are accurate is to carefully follow the instructions that came with your pregnancy test. If the box tells you only to submerge your stick up to a certain point, don’t pee all over the stick, and if it tells you to wait five minutes before interpreting your results, actually time it: some results may fade if you wait too long, and reading too early could return a false negative.
If you do get a BFN (big fat negative), it never hurts to take another pregnancy test to confirm, as false negatives can happen.
For the most accurate results, take your pregnancy test in the morning -- the first time you void your bladder after you wake up. As you drink fluids throughout the day, your urine can become more dilute, which can increase the chances of a false negative if the test doesn’t detect the proper threshold of HCG.
If you’re facing down a BFN, don’t panic. Remember that nearly 20% of couples don’t successfully conceive after six months of trying, and many factors are at play when you’re trying to conceive. If you’re going through a stressful time, misjudging when you ovulate or even logging extra hours on your bike, all of that could be affecting when you’re conceiving. Just remember that it never hurts to let your doctor know that you’re trying to get pregnant, and being proactive about your fertility can go a long way.
If you’re looking for that BFP, make sure you’re taking steps toward a more fertile lifestyle, and avoid anything that could be hindering your success -- including using the wrong lube! Remember that many commercially available lubricants hinder sperm motility and fail to create an ideal environment for conception. Astroglide TTC is specially formulated for partners who want to be parents, and has been shown in studies to be compatible with sperm and oocytes.
So when you’re picking up your next pregnancy test, don’t forget to grab some sperm-friendly lube, and take heart: the best things in life are well worth the wait!
Images are for illustrative purposes only.