- Women's Health
False Positives on Pregnancy Tests
So you think you are pregnant or there is a chance you might be. You purchase an over the counter pregnancy test from your local drug store to take in the privacy of your own home only to find that you are pregnant. You make a doctor’s appointment to confirm this only to find out that you are not pregnant. Whether you want to be pregnant or not this is a definite rollercoaster ride of emotions simply because you received a false positive on your at home pregnancy test. But why did this happen? And is it possible to avoid this from happening in the first place or from happening again? At home pregnancy tests are for the most part pretty accurate, most claim to be 99% accurate. But how do these tests work?
When a woman is pregnant the hormone HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is produced. HCG is not normally found in women who are not pregnant. Testing for HCG can be done on either blood or urine. Home pregnancy tests use urine tests and when the urine is combined with a special chemical on the test stick it reacts to the HCG hormone. The home pregnancy test can work two ways either the woman urinates directly on the plastic stick or the urine is collected in a cup and the stick is placed in the cup. These tests will give a positive if the HCG hormone is found and negative if it is not found.
However there are some things that can cause false positive results:
Impurities in the Sample – Impurities in the sample such as blood in the urine or even detergents on the collection cup can cause false positive results.
Prescription Drugs – Some prescription medications can also cause false positives some of these medications are; diuretics, tranquilizers, anticonvulsants and several others.
Medical Problems – Some medical conditions or problems such as tumors especially in the reproductive tract can cause false positive results.
Ineffective Tests – Sometimes the tests are simply ineffective and will give a false positive because they are not working correctly.
Not Following the Directions – Sometimes not following the directions or not being able to read the test correctly may make you think that the test is saying you are pregnant when you are not.
To avoid this from happening there are several steps that you can take:
Choose Two Brands – Choosing and using two different brands of pregnancy tests will give you a better chance of avoiding a false positive. If you get the same reading on both tests then the result is more apt to be correct. If you have two different readings on two different tests then there is something wrong with one of the tests.
Consult Your Doctor – Always consult your doctor no matter what the result is. This will help for you to be sure that you are or are not pregnant. In addition if there is a false positive result because of a medical condition then that is something that you and your doctor can discuss.
Keep Everything Clean – Keep your tests and your testing area clean. If you are using a collection cup for your test make sure that there are no detergents left on the cup. This will help to give a more accurate reading.
Follow the Directions – Follow the directions on the package. Some tests are different and to get the best result it is important to follow the directions closely.
Know Your Health History – Understand the medicines you are taking and whether or not you have any conditions or are on any medications that could possibly give you a false positive reading.
Although pregnancy tests are supposed to be 99% accurate that still means that 1 out 100 women testing could have a problem. Make sure that you follow the directions on the test completely and always contact your doctor.