The news of pregnancy is a reason for celebration! There will be millions of emotions building up inside you once you catch a tint of the pregnancy symptoms until you confirm the joy! The first and foremost indications of pregnancy are manifested through home pregnancy test kits. Since its inception in 1976, the home pregnancy test kits are the most common way of confirming the pregnancy among women after they skip their period cycle. But are they 100% effective? Are the results to be trusted without second thoughts?
Read on to know more:
What exactly do the Pregnancy Test Kits do?
The pregnancy test kits possess antibodies that can detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin - hCG, a hormone that starts secreting once the embryo attaches with the uterus lining, marking the start of pregnancy. hCG is commonly present in very low levels in all women but tends to be higher in pregnant women, which the pregnancy tests kits test and confirm with its antibodies. The secretion of hCG can be found in urine, which is the source of the pregnancy test. There are multiple brands of pregnancy test kits that are available over-the-counter at pharmacies, but they all have different sensitivity which can manipulate the original pregnancy confirmation result - which leaves us to four results: Positive, Negative, False-Positive & False Negative.
What do the results tell you?
So what exactly did the above line mean? The pregnancy test result can show only negative or positive, or to tell it in the local lingo - one stripe (negative) or two stripes (positive). What about the other two I just mentioned? Should you be alarmed?
Okay, now take a deep breath. There is nothing to be worried about when you are aware of the knowledge behind it.
False-Positive and False-Negative results are the opposite of what the actual condition of your pregnancy is. If you are pregnant and the result still shows negative - it is called as False-Negative and if you are not pregnant, and the result shows positive - it is called as False-Positive. False-Negative results have more occurrences than False-Positive among women. False-Positive can be due to factors like defective test kits, a recent miscarriage, intake of fertility medications, and if the sample remains in the test kit for a longer time.
Deep Diving into causes of False-Negative results:
The brains behind the pregnancy test kits claim that the tests are 99% accurate and the test can be taken after a week or two of conception, where in reality the pregnancy hormones lay low during this period and gradually increase over time. The best time to test your pregnancy will be after skipping your first period cycle or a minimum of 6 days when hCG starts to secrete in higher levels and the test kits can accurately confirm your pregnancy.
- Not taking the test first thing in the morning - Yes, the morning pee is the most crucial one to test your pregnancy because of its higher concentration of hCG. This will help the pregnancy test kit to capture the result properly. However, if you are missing this and going on to test the urine during other times of the day, there is a high chance that the concentration of hCG is low and the test might be false-negative.
- Drinking too much water - Keeping yourself hydrated is obviously an important key to maintaining good health. But when you are ready to test for your pregnancy, it is better to stay low on liquids to avoid diluting the concentration of hCG in your urine. This again may be the cause of your false-negative result, since many pregnancy test kits cannot capture low sensitivity and cannot capture faint traces of hCG.
- Not enough sample/ too much sample - You need to place enough urine on the strip so that the test kit can get ample amounts to work its antibodies on. And placing too much urine on your test strip may dilute the positive. This amount may vary from brand to brand, and hence it is important to stick to the instructions specifically given in the pregnancy test kit to avoid the result of false-negative.
- Testing right after conception - As said earlier, testing right after conception will give you only false negatives, even though you are pregnant. Some tests may be structured for testing low levels of hCG, but to be on the safer side, it is always good to wait until you skip your period and test a week from then, when your hCG is at higher levels.
- Defective Test Kit/ Low Sensitive Kit - There is a higher probability of the test returning false-negative if the pregnancy test kit is expired or defective or sometimes even low sensitivity towards the hCG hormone. Ensure to choose the right test kit or check with your doctor for the right brand.
- Not keeping track of your menstrual cycle - Pregnant or not, it is a mandate to keep track of your menstrual cycle to know your body well. A regular cycle is between 21-35 days and it is important to know the days of ovulation too. If your cycle is irregular, then it is even more crucial to keep track of the dates to ensure that your calculations of ovulation and conception are right on. The chances of false negatives are high if the cycle is miscalculated and the test is taken on days right before the start of the period, due to the low hCG level in urine.
What to do after your false-negative results?
We recommend confirming it with your doctor if you are sure about the symptoms of your pregnancy and yet received a false-negative result. There can be other reasons, where you might have missed your period and the result is negative, such as lack of sleep, poor diet, stress, hormonal disorders, change in your routine, excessive workouts. Inhibit bad lifestyle practices and include nutritious food for both mind and body. This will not only help in achieving a regular period, but also a healthy pregnancy!