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False Positives on Pregnancy Tests

Updated on May 7, 2011


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.  


Prank Pregnancy Test


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    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Thanks for your comments Clare!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      home pregnancy tests determine pregnancy through the detection of the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin in a woman’s urine. so this article helps you to know more about the problem and also tells you how to deal in such situation.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      8 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you xixi12. That must be difficult emotionally to go through that. Congatulations on being pregnant!

    • xixi12 profile image


      8 years ago from Everywhere but here. In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. You can never be truly free till you have the discipline to manage it.

      Very helpful hub. I kept getting a false positive for over a year till I finally got pregnant. And I made sure I did a blood test 3 times just to be double sure. I was tired of getting my hopes dashed

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      8 years ago from West Coast

      luv2share - That is a very interesting point. I am not certain about that but anything is a possibility. I have heard of some tests not working correctly because they were damaged.

    • luv2share profile image


      8 years ago from San Diego, USA

      Very good helpful hub! I am wondering if false positive tests also have to do with the quality of the pregnancy test itself, since there can be a big price different between different brands.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      8 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you pregnancy test that is useful information!

    • pregnancy test profile image

      pregnancy test 

      8 years ago

      false positive happens when your hormone level is unbalanced.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you RNMSN!

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Az

      great hub triplet mom!! good research and pictures!!

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      lovelymama - Oh I feel for your sister, that must have been so upsetting. I am glad that it had a happy ending!

    • lovelymama profile image


      9 years ago

      This is a great hub! My sister had a false positive last year and she was so happy that the test was positive because she and her husband just decided it was time to start having a family and she called everyone in the family to share the news just to have to call everyone back to tell them that she wasn't. Happy ending though three months later she did finally get pregnant and she has a beautiful daughter.

    • MamaDragonfly2677 profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      Me either! Good thing there are hubs like this around!

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you MDF - I sure hope it does. I cannot imagine having either a false positive or false negative that would be completely emotional. Thanks for asking!

    • MamaDragonfly2677 profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      Great Hub!

      Thanks for answering! I bet this information will serve to be very important to someone who isn't sure.

      Again, great informitive hub!



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