The 8 Best Pregnancy Tests Out There, Tested and Approved

Eager to find out if there's a baby on board? We’re sharing the dos and don’ts of testing—plus, our picks for the best pregnancy tests on the market.
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woman taking a pregnancy test in bathroom at home
Image: Taras Grebinets | Shutterstock
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If you think you might be pregnant, there’s an easy way to find out for sure: Take a home pregnancy test! You can go to a doctor’s office or hospital to have a urine or blood test done, but many women prefer to get the answer from the comfort of their home—or, more specifically, their bathroom.

But whether you’re scouring the aisles of your local pharmacy or scrolling online, it’s difficult to know what’s the best home pregnancy test on the market. With so many options, the sheer number of offerings out there can be overwhelming. But don’t worry: As an expectant parent, I’ve tested multiple pregnancy tests to bring you the scoop on the best options in various categories so you can choose what’s best for you and your personal needs, from the best overall pregnancy test (and this year’s Best of The Bump winner) to the best test for fast results and even an eco-friendly option. You’ll be “adding to cart” with confidence in no time.

What Is a Home Pregnancy Test?

The serum pregnancy test (aka blood test) you might take at the doctor’s office is a super-sensitive method of measuring human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the pregnancy hormone, and “can detect a pregnancy at its earliest stages,” says Christian Pope, DO, an ob-gyn at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Home pregnancy tests look for that same hormone but in your urine, where it may take a bit more time for it to accumulate. A blood test can detect pregnancy about six to eight days after conception, whereas a home pregnancy test generally works as early as 14 days after conception. (Some early-results pregnancy tests can offer results roughly eight days after conception, but the longer you wait, the more accurate the test is.) But while you might have to wait a few days longer to take the test, you won’t have to wait long for the results: Home pregnancy tests can tell you whether or not you’re pregnant within a matter of minutes.

Types of Home Pregnancy Tests

Home pregnancy tests all search for hCG in your urine, but there are various styles available that are used in slightly different ways. Dye pregnancy tests come in the form of strips or wands; some you pee directly onto, while others you dip into your collected pee. If hCG is detected in your urine, it’ll incite a chemical reaction that makes a positive result line appear. Digital tests, on the other hand, typically display the word “positive or “negative.” Many women find that these high-tech options are more user-friendly, and while they may be slightly less sensitive to hCG, they eliminate the possibility of misinterpretation.

What to Consider When Buying a Pregnancy Test

So you’ve decided it’s time to take a home pregnancy test. Maybe you’re chill and collected and just need to know if you are or aren’t pregnant. Or maybe you’re feeling a little anxious and eager to get accurate results as quickly as possible. Before you purchase a home pregnancy test, there are a few things to take into consideration.

I remember with my first baby, I wanted to know immediately and be able to test often, so I initially ordered cheap pregnancy tests (hCG pregnancy test strips). I took several of them over the course of a few days before my missed period and after, and could see the positive testing line darken as the hCG hormones rose in my body. This time around, when testing for pregnancy with my second baby, it became even more important for me to find the most accurate pregnancy test. Many tests claim to be “over 99 percent accurate”—but this accuracy rate only really applies after you’ve missed your period, so it’s important to consider where you are in your cycle before determining which test to take; an early pregnancy test will (unsurprisingly) pick up on the pregnancy hormones earlier.

Are you prioritizing early detection or regular testing, as I did with my first child? Or accuracy, as I did with my second? Or perhaps ease of use and clarity of results? Once you’ve decided on these preferences, it’s time to consider the best pregnancy tests for you. Keep scrolling for recommendations!

How We Tested the Pregnancy Tests

To find the best pregnancy tests on the market, I personally put them to the test. At 34 weeks pregnant, I knew for sure what an accurate reading would be and was able to concentrate on the nuances of use, rating each test on ease of use, clarity of results, speed of results, accuracy and value for money. I shared these results with my colleagues at The Bump, and along with their research insights and area expertise, we rounded up the best pregnancy tests for a whole host of particular needs.

Image: Christine Carpenter

Best Pregnancy Tests to Buy

For more than 10 years, The Bump has been recognizing the absolute best baby and pregnancy products on the market through The Best of The Bump awards series. Curious to see which pregnancy test was named the Best of The Bump award winner this year? Keep scrolling for the overall top pick, plus a list of carefully vetted tests that are particularly good for specific needs. Maybe you haven’t even missed your period yet and need an early-detection pregnancy test. Or maybe you want to have confidence in the clearest possible results. Or perhaps you plan to test frequently and are looking for a cost-effective but reliable solution. Either way, the road to a definitive answer starts here.

Overall best pregnancy test

Clearblue Rapid Detection Pregnancy Test
Image: Walmart

When you’re anxiously waiting to learn whether or not you’re pregnant, you want a test that’s easy to use and fast results that are easy to read. Clearblue Rapid Detection has you covered. Out of all the pregnancy tests I used, this was hands-down my favorite. And I’m not the only one: It has more than 30,000 glowing reviews on Amazon alone. It stands out for its ease of use and reliability, earning it a Best of The Bump award for overall best pregnancy test (head here to see all of this year’s Best of The Bump winners).

How it works

When the tip of the wand is urine-soaked (either dipped for five seconds in a collected sample or held in a five-second urine stream), it changes to a pale shade of pink, letting you know that the urine has been fully absorbed and the test is working. I loved having that peace of mind, so I wasn’t left anxiously wondering if I had done the test correctly. Once the urine reaches the testing window, you’ll see results in one to three minutes. If you’re pregnant, the test will show a plus sign in the testing window (and yes, even if it’s faint, the results are still positive). If you’re not pregnant, the test will show a negative sign. An additional control window will display a blue line to confirm that the test worked.

Ease of use

This was one of the easiest pregnancy tests to use. It’s got an extra-wide tip, which makes it simpler to pee on. Not only that, but the tip turns pink to let you know it’s working, which really sets this test apart for me. It also features a patented floodguard technology, which prevents too much urine from entering the test—the leading cause of user testing error, according to Clearblue. My positive result was visible almost instantly, even though the instructions said to allow one to three minutes for results. It showed a bold plus sign, making it very clear and easy to read. One thing to note about the Clearblue Rapid Detection test is the indent lines, which are where the ink collects to create the control line and the result lines (and are indented so the ink doesn’t spill out). As the test sits and the urine evaporates, it can sometimes draw a bit of ink into the indent line, creating the illusion of a false positive. That’s why it’s so important to read the test results within the three-minute result window.


When used after your first missed period, results are 99 percent effective, according to Clearblue. But just like all the best pregnancy tests on the market, its accuracy starts to decrease the earlier you test. If you use it one day before your expected period, it’s 98 percent accurate; two days out it’s 97 percent accurate; three days out it’s 88 percent accurate and four days out it’s 56 percent accurate. I never got a false negative when using these tests, although I’m already well into my pregnancy.

Number of tests included: 2 | Type of result display: Plus or minus sign | How early it can detect pregnancy: 4 days before expected period

"The results were almost instantaneous. I thought another test I had taken was fast, but this one proved to be even faster. Even though the instructions say one to three minutes, the plus sign appeared within 10 seconds and continued to darken as the urine soaked the testing window. I would absolutely recommend this product."

What We Love
  • When dipped in collected urine, this test only requires five seconds, as opposed to other tests that require 20 seconds
  • The instructions are printed clearly, accompanied by photos for further clarity
  • Very cost-effective and a great value for the price
Things To Consider
  • Indent lines can give the illusion of a false positive if instructions aren’t followed

Best early pregnancy test

Proov Check HCG Self-Test
Image: Walmart

When you just need to know whether you’re pregnant as soon as possible, you need an at-home pregnancy test that allows you to test days before your expected period—and that still offers a high accuracy rate so early on, so you can depend on reliable results. The Proov Check Early Pregnancy Test checks both boxes.

How it works

Testing with Proov was simple. Dip the strip in a collected urine sample until the urine flows up the strip to reach the “max” arrows (around 10 seconds). Lay the strip flat on a clean surface, and wait five to 15 minutes for a result. A positive test will show two lines, and a negative test with only one line means either you are not pregnant, or the pregnancy hormones are not yet high enough to be detected by the strip. If for any reason you’re unsure of your results, Proov instructions recommend retesting after 48 hours.

Ease of use

My test results appeared right before my eyes, nearly instantaneously, and the positive result was very bold and clear. Plus, you have access to a whole network of support via the Proov Insight App, which offers cycle tracking, advice on the best days to test, and even diet, lifestyle and supplement suggestions. And if that’s not enough, the brand maintains a private Facebook community where women can share their experiences. There’s a lot of value packed inside these tiny testing strips!


According to Proov, the test can detect pregnancy up to five days before your expected period with 77 percent accuracy. While there are other early pregnancy tests on the market that can also be used five days out, Proov has the edge in accuracy—most other early pregnancy tests hover between 68 and 76 percent accurate at this early stage in pregnancy. Proov’s accuracy jumps to 96 percent accurate four days before your period and 99 percent accurate at three days out, offering fantastic reliability. It’s important to note that if you’re testing before an expected period, using first-morning urine is required; if testing after, you can test at any time of the day.

Number of tests included: 10 | Type of result display: Single or double line | How early it can detect pregnancy: Five days before expected period

“The test results appeared almost instantly. Even though the instructions stated to wait five to 15 minutes, my results appeared in less than thirty seconds. I found the test line was bolder than many of the other pregnancy test strips I've tried. ”

What We Love
  • High accuracy rate at 5 days before period
  • The clear instructions as well as an abundance of online resources for further questions
  • Proov is women-owned and run, and the customer service is fantastic
Things To Consider
  • At around a dollar per strip, this is pricier than other hCG test strips options on the market.

Best digital pregnancy test

Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown
Image: Walmart

Behold, the pregnancy test for those who hate guesswork! Not only does it immediately let you know that the test is working, it counts down to an unmistakable result that actually spells out “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” There are no guessing games or faint lines to decipher here, earning it a spot on our list as the best digital pregnancy test.

How it works

If you’re using the Clearblue Digital with Smart Countdown pregnancy test on or after the day you expect your period, a urine sample from any time of day will work. If you’re testing early, Clearblue recommends using the first urine of the day for the most accurate results. The test requires placing the absorbent tip either in a urine stream for five seconds or in a collected urine sample for 20 seconds and laying the stick flat while the countdown loads. The smart countdown display made it very clear that the test was progressing properly: The testing window shows flashing dots that appear in a sequence increasing from one to four, and when the sequence is done the results are ready. Results are expected to appear within three minutes but can appear as quickly as one minute, in which case the smart countdown will progress faster.

Ease of use

The smart countdown is one of my favorite features of this pregnancy test. It was comforting for me to know that not only was the test working but that I could monitor the progress in real-time. No other test on the market offers this option. And with the LCD display that literally spells out whether or not you’re pregnant, I felt completely confident in my positive results. When I was ready to begin testing after trying for our second baby, this was the test that made me realize it was really happening. There’s nothing like seeing the word “pregnant” after taking a test to make it all feel real. A positive result will show on the display screen for up to six months, making it easy to share your pregnancy news with family and friends. “Not pregnant” results show for approximately one day after testing.


This Clearblue digital pregnancy test says it’s 99 percent accurate on the day of your expected period. It can be used as early as four days before your expected period (or five days from your missed period), at which point it’s 75 percent accurate. But at three days from your expected period, the accuracy jumps up to 95 percent. I never got a false negative with this test, either when I tested 10 days after conception or when testing well into my pregnancy as a product reviewer.

Number of tests included: 2 | Type of result display: Digital LCD display with Pregnant/Not Pregnant spelled out| How early it can detect pregnancy: 4 days before expected period

“It was very clear that the countdown was progressing with the dots increasing from one at the start to four once the results were ready. The test results clearly state ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant.’ There is no questioning the clarity of this test.“

What We Love
  • Results written out in words, rather than having to decipher lines that can sometimes appear faint
  • Countdown to results lets you know exactly when to expect them
  • Wide absorbent tip and integrated floodguard technology allow for more precise testing
Things To Consider
  • The results took a little longer than other tests I've taken. Instructions promise results will be ready in one to three minutes and my test took only two, but there are faster tests on the market

Best pregnancy test strips

ClinicalGuard Pregnancy Test Strips
Image: Amazon
Buying Options

The beauty of pregnancy test strips is that you can use a bunch of them without feeling guilty, since they’re much more cost-effective than stick tests. While pregnancy test strips are a no-frills testing option, ClinicalGuard is an excellent value for the money and is considered convenient and reliable in detecting hCG hormones early on in pregnancy.

How it works

It’s important to note that test strips can’t be used with a stream of urine; they must be dip-tested. Begin by collecting a urine sample in a clean disposable cup, and submerge the strip only up to the line labeled “max.” Make sure the strip isn’t immersed past the max line and that the correct end of the strip (with the arrow facing down) is dipped in the urine sample. The test doesn’t tell you how long to dip the strip, but results can be read after a five-minute wait. Results will show either one band of color in the control zone for negative, or two bands (one in the control zone and one in the testing zone) for positive.

Ease of Use

This test was easy to use. However, I was a little confused at first without instructions. Even though I found them printed on the back of the packaging, there was no paperwork with instructions or any explanations inside the packaging. For someone who’s never used pregnancy test strips, it might be unclear how to use these. Beyond that, I personally loved the convenience of the little packets and the sensitivity of the tests. My results appeared in under a minute and the test line came up with a bold pink positive line. The test yielded the clearest results I've seen on an hCG test strip.


If taken 10 to 12 days after ovulation, this test provides a 99 percent accuracy rate, according to the brand. Although it’s possible for ClinicalGuard to pick up pregnancy hormones very early (the earliest pregnancy can be detected to yield positive results is seven days after ovulation), this is not recommended for the most accurate results. As hCG hormone levels rise throughout pregnancy, the test line will darken, and you can see that difference in a matter of days.

Number of tests included: 25 | Type of result display: Single or double line | How early it can detect pregnancy: 10 to 12 days past ovulation

“This test showed the boldest pink line of all the pregnancy test strips I’ve tried. The testing line was almost the same color as the control line. It is very clear that the result is positive … I would feel confident recommending this to friends.”

What We Love
  • The cost-effectiveness of these strips is great; you can test across multiple days and weeks and will see the testing line darken as hCG increases in the body
  • Very fast results
Things To Consider
  • It can be a bit more difficult to read results due to the size of the strip
  • Test lines will be more prominent further along in pregnancy, as hCG levels rise

Best pregnancy test for fast results

First Response Rapid Result Pregnancy Test
Image: Walmart

First Response Rapid Result should change its name to Lightning Fast Result. This test boasts a wait time of just 45 seconds for pregnancy test results, and many women (myself included) note that it often displays results even faster. It stands out for its quick, easy-to-read results, as well as its accuracy and sensitivity.

How it works

The instructions are clearly printed on the side of the box and in a detailed pamphlet inside. Holding the testing stick by the thumb grip with the result window facing away from the body, hold the tip in a five-second urine stream. Alternatively, dip the entire absorbent tip into a collected urine sample for 20 seconds. After 45 seconds or less, the results will appear as either a single line (not pregnant) or a double line (pregnant) in the testing window.

Ease of Use

Even though the indicated result wait time is 45 seconds, my results appeared in the blink of an eye, like magic. The brand states that fast results are made accessible by their enhanced technology, which both detects and isolates hCG in urine. Possibly one of my favorite features of the First Response Rapid Result is the new EasyRead app. While my testing line was very easy to read, I can remember testing in the early days of my first pregnancy, holding tests up to the light to determine if there was a faint positive testing line or if I was imagining things! After downloading the app with a handy QR code on the side of the product box, you can use your phone’s camera to convert your testing results window into the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant" on your screen. I absolutely love the fact that First Response uses your phone to produce digital test results without the digital test price point!


According to First Response, the Rapid Result pregnancy test is over 99 percent accurate from the day of your missed period. It detects hCG in 76 percent of pregnant women five days before their expected period, 96 percent of pregnant women four days before, and more than 99 percent of pregnant women three or fewer days before their expected period.

Number of tests included: 2 | Type of result display: Single or double line | How early it can detect pregnancy: 5 days before expected period

“This test promises one-minute results and results were shown within 10 seconds. Even though the line continued to darken, the positive result showed up very quickly and accurately.”

What We Love
  • QR code technology lets you scan the results with your phone for a digital display
Things To Consider
  • Indent lines can give the illusion of a false positive

Best pregnancy test for easy-to-read results

First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test
Image: Walmart

Eager to take a pregnancy test before you’ve missed your period? Not only does First Response Early Result let you test days earlier than many other home pregnancy tests, but it also serves up clear, easy-to-interpret results—which is critical when you’re anxiously waiting to learn whether you’re about to become a parent.

How it works

Holding the stick with the thumb grip, completely soak the absorbent tip for five seconds either in a urine stream or by dipping it into a urine collection. Replace the cap with the tip facing downward, and lay the test down on a flat surface. Test results are promised within three minutes. If you’re pregnant, two pink lines will appear. If you’re not pregnant or if it’s too early to detect pregnancy hormones, only one single control line will appear. If the test yields a negative result, the instructions state to test again when your period is seven days late. Every body is different, and some women don’t build up enough of the pregnancy hormone to detect in earlier testing.

Ease of use

I found this test easy to use thanks to the printed instructions on the side of the box and also on the paperwork. The “pregnant” double line and “not pregnant” single line (control line) were printed right on the stick beside the testing window, making it extremely clear how to read the results. While the instructions said to wait three minutes, the positive result came up for me within one minute. The result initially yielded a faint line that intensified into a dark pink, very solid positive line.


This test can be used as early as five days before your expected period (or six days before your missed period), making this another excellent early pregnancy test. Better yet, you don’t have to use your first-morning urine to get accurate results (as is recommended for some tests). Keep in mind that the accuracy improves the closer you are to an expected period. According to First Response, when testing five days before the expected period, pregnancy hormone levels were detected in 76 percent of pregnant women, and 96 percent of women four days before. Results are over 99 percent accurate by three days before the expected period.

Number of tests included: 2 | Type of result display: Single or double line | How early it can detect pregnancy: 5 days before expected period

“The result yielded a dark pink, very solid testing line. The ‘pregnant’ double line and ‘not pregnant’ single line were printed right on the testing wand, making it extremely clear how to interpret the results. The instructions said to wait three minutes, and the positive result came up for me within one minute.”

What We Love
  • Clear result examples printed onto the wand, and helpful instructions
  • Offers accurate results days before other tests
  • Testing stick is thick and easy to grasp
Things To Consider
  • You could receive a negative result and still be pregnant, as some women don’t have enough hCG to show up with this early pregnancy test
  • Evaporation lines could potentially look like a false positive

Best budget-friendly pregnancy test

Advanced Early Result Pregnancy Test
Image: Target
Buying Options

Target’s Up&Up private label brand has really upped the ante when it comes to the cost-effectiveness of a home pregnancy test—proof that cheap pregnancy tests don’t have to be unreliable or inconvenient. The Advanced Early Result Pregnancy Test has many of the features of a name-brand test, at an even more affordable price. Early result technology, a wide absorbent tip and a longer handle are just a few of the reasons we love this option, all at a price that can’t be beat.

How it works

Begin by collecting from a stream of urine for five seconds or dipping the absorbent tip into a collected sample for 20 seconds. Lay the test flat with the result window facing up and be sure not to shake the test. The instructions advise a two-minute wait time and stress not to read results after 10 minutes, as they could yield a false positive. An additional control window to the right of the testing window will show a blue line to confirm that the test is working.

Ease of use

I loved that the positive and negative result possibilities were printed right on the plastic wand for ultimate ease and clarity of use. My test results appeared even before the advised two minutes (within about 30 seconds), with a bold blue positive line in the testing window. I particularly liked the control window feature, which gave me confidence that the test was functioning properly. I was especially impressed that a store brand contained similar floodguard technology I saw in other tests, which prevents excess urine from collecting within the test. I assumed that this feature was reserved for pricier tests, and love that this is offered with a budget option. I found that the longer handle and wider tip made it easy to collect a sample. Additionally, the instructions were printed clearly, in a large enough font, and accompanied by photos.


This test can be used up to four days before your expected period, although only at 71 percent accuracy. (The instructions do note that like any other test on the market, pregnancy hormones vary from woman to woman.) Accuracy increases to 99 percent one day before your expected period. The most accurate results will appear on the day after your missed period.

Number of tests included: 3 | Type of result display: Single or double line | How early it can detect pregnancy: 4 days before expected period

“This is an affordable option that provided excellent instructions, and was easy to use with quick results. I like that Target has a test option that covers all of the testing bases with a store-brand/private label product.”

What We Love
  • Budget-friendly option with all the bells and whistles of a name-brand test: a control window, a wide tip for collecting urine, fast results and early pregnancy detection
Things To Consider
  • Indentation lines can potentially look like a false positive

Best pregnancy test with personalized support

Modern Fertility Pregnancy Test
Image: Walmart

Modern Fertility makes it a breeze to test and read the results, and the brand claims to be just as accurate as top-selling brands at a more affordable price point—and on top of all that, Modern offers an abundance of expert support and even an online community of women to lean on.

How it works

This four-pack testing kit has smaller-than-average pee sticks in discreet packaging. Instruction photos are printed on the outside of each foil packet, as well as on the side of the box and in a detailed instruction booklet. You can either pee on the absorbent tip or in a clean cup to collect a sample. Lay the test flat, wait five minutes and the test will yield either single (not pregnant) or double (pregnant) pink lines in the testing window.

Ease of use

This test says to wait five minutes but no longer than 10 in order to avoid incorrect results. (I love the extended maximum time; I can remember taking pregnancy tests in the past with other brands and receiving a false positive after letting the sticks sit for too long). The cheeky instructions state that five minutes is “about enough time to listen to ‘Run the World (Girls).’” I’m all for cute instructions that make me smile while I’m waiting for life-altering results! My positive results became visible on this test within seconds of the urine entering the testing window. I was so impressed with how fast this test yielded results, even though the listed wait time was five minutes. The pink line was solid and extremely bold in the testing window.

One of my favorite features of this brand is the Modern Community, an online discussion forum where women can connect with one another and ask fertility experts any questions they might have. There’s nothing like private support from other women to give that extra confidence on your fertility journey.


The instruction booklet shows an informative chart for hCG concentration and the percentage accuracy based on the day that you test, spanning from 68 percent accuracy five days before your expected period, all the way up to 99 percent accuracy from the first day of your missed period.

What sets Modern Fertility apart from other brands is the extensive fertility support: A free app tracks your period and recommends the best time to test, helping to boost accuracy with this personal recommendation.

Number of tests included: 4 | Type of result display: Single or double line | How early it can detect pregnancy: 5 days before expected period

“It was so comforting to know that Modern Fertility has connected a community of women on their fertility journeys and a team of fertility experts, all in the comfort and privacy of an iOs app or via their website.”

What We Love
  • The discreet packaging
  • The particularly useful instruction booklet
  • The online community that lets you connect with other women and get fertility support from experts
Things To Consider
  • The clear plastic piece over the testing window can cause shadows

How We Chose the Best Pregnancy Tests

The Bump editors conducted extensive research into best-selling, well-reviewed pregnancy tests to identify the leading options on the market today. Each of those tests were then, well, put to the test. As a pregnant mom currently expecting my second baby, I used and assessed each test against five major criteria: ease of use, clarity of results, speed of results, accuracy and value for money.

This rigorous testing was combined with The Bump’s area expertise to bestow the prestigious Best of The Bump award to the overall best pregnancy test. And then we went one step further, using the testing evaluations to identify other standout options that are particularly good for your specific needs, whether you want your results quickly, prefer a digital display or need a ton of inexpensive strips for regular testing. All this to ensure that you find a quality product with plenty of bang for your buck that’ll prove a good fit for you.

When Should I Take a Pregnancy Test?

If you’ve been trying to conceive, you’re probably anxious to take a test—and stat. But you’ll want to plan your fateful potty trip wisely. The truth is: Home pregnancy tests are “most accurate when you take them after you have already missed your period,” explains Jane Frederick, MD, reproductive endocrinologist and medical director of HRC Fertility in Orange County, California.

Early-result pregnancy tests are designed to detect the hormone as early as five days before your expected period. Still, the odds of getting a false reading narrows as you approach the date of your period. You should also try to take your home pregnancy test when you wake up, as “first morning urine… is most concentrated,” meaning a test is more likely to detect hCG levels, explains Pope.

How to Take a Pregnancy Test

Home pregnancy tests involve peeing on a stick or dipping a strip into a cup of urine. Follow the directions, and within a matter of minutes (or, in some cases, seconds!) you’ll have your result. It’s that simple.

Common mistakes to avoid when taking a home pregnancy test

Home pregnancy tests are fairly intuitive and pretty accurate. However, user error is possible—and there are some common mistakes you should try to avoid making. “Always check the package for expiration dates to maintain the accuracy of the test,” advises Frederick. Pregnancy tests have a shelf life, and using an expired one can result in a false positive reading.

Also, be sure to read the specific directions for the test you’re taking and follow the steps accordingly. Most importantly, check the result within the advised time frame. Wait too long, and you could detect an evaporation line. This is “a line that appears in the results window of a pregnancy test as the urine dries,” explains Frederick. In other words, it makes a test look positive when it’s actually negative.

How to read a pregnancy test

If you’re taking a blue or pink dye pregnancy test, a control line will always appear to indicate that the test is working; if the test line appears within the instructed time frame, there is hCG in your system (you got a positive result!). Consider setting a timer so you don’t wait too long to check the result and risk seeing the appearance of an evaporation line.

A positive result can bring on a surge of excitement; it can also come with its fair share of anxiety. If you want to take a second test for reassurance, go for it; just don’t feel compelled to buy out the pharmacy’s entire stock. “If one test is positive, the rest will be too,” says Pope. It’s time to schedule a prenatal appointment with your doctor and follow up for next steps.

Of course, a negative result can be devastating, but you shouldn’t feel defeated. If you’re testing early, follow up and test again after your missed period. If it’s been a few cycles and you’ve yet to get a positive pregnancy test, contact your doctor to discuss next steps; there are options.

How Accurate Are Home Pregnancy Tests?

Home pregnancy tests are generally considered very accurate (most are about 99 percent accurate on the day of a missed period)—so if you get a positive result, give yourself permission to celebrate.

Still, it’s important to note that, while very rare, false positives are possible. Certain fertility drugs contain hCG and can result in a positive reading when you’re not actually pregnant, warns Frederick. An expired test can also lead to a faulty reading. False negatives can happen too. Most commonly, this would be the result of testing too early.

Keep in mind that pregnancy tests may have slightly different sensitivity levels. “One might be positive and another negative on the same day in a woman who is newly pregnant, and the difference is the quality and sensitivity of the pregnancy test,” says Sara Twogood, MD, an ob-gyn at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and author of Still, home pregnancy tests purchased at stores and pharmacies are regulated by the FDA, so suffice to say, most are considered very reliable.

Do Pregnancy Tests Expire?

Pregnancy tests are printed with an expiration date for a reason: They don’t last forever! Like other consumer goods, their effectiveness wears off over time. According to Clearblue, a typical pregnancy test lasts one to three years after it was manufactured. The reason is due to the antibodies home pregnancy tests use to detect hCG: When you use a home pregnancy test, antibodies in the test bind the hCG and produce a color change, visible to you as the lines on your results (or in the case of a digital test, visible to an optical sensor). Over time, those antibodies become less effective. Always check the date, since expired pregnancy tests can yield a false positive or a false negative result.

About the writer:

Christine Carpenter is a mother and storyteller from New York. She approaches her craft with a goal of making women feel less alone in motherhood. Carpenter is a mama to a loving and curious toddler boy and awaits the arrival of her second little man. With a rich professional background in product development, she has a keen eye for quality and managing all steps of the product supply chain from inception to delivery. Carpenter’s writing has been published in Motherscope, The Kindred Voice and Mantra Wellness, among others.

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Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.


Jane Frederick, MD, is an ob-gyn and reproductive endocrinologist. She serves as the medical director of HRC Fertility in Orange County, California. She earned her medical degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.

Christian Pope, DO, FACOG, is an ob-gyn at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He received his medical degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Sara Twogood, MD, FACOG, is an ob-gyn at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and author of She received her medical degree at Albany Medical College in Albany, New York.

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