Home Motherhood Getting Pregnant How Reliable is Your Pregnancy Test? The Facts Uncovered

How Reliable is Your Pregnancy Test? The Facts Uncovered


You may have an old pregnancy test tucked away somewhere. But is it still accurate? If you are thinking of using it, then read on to find out what medical professionals have to say.

How Pregnancy Tests Tell You the News

Most people know the drill—you urinate on a stick and then wait. But what is actually happening?

According to Dr. Sarah Miller, an OB-GYN and consultant at the Women’s Health Center, these tests detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in a woman’s urine. After fertilization, cells forming the placenta produce this hormone. Usually, the hCG levels start to rise between six to 12 days after conception.

To ensure the test is working, check that a control line shows up on the test stick or screen. Most importantly, these tests are more accurate if you have missed your period.

Shelf Life of Pregnancy Tests

You might wonder how long a pregnancy test can sit unused. Dr. Emma Daniels, another expert in the field, explains that most pregnancy tests are good for two to three years from the manufacturing date. This applies to both digital and standard tests.

If your test has been in storage for years, you might want to check its expiry date. This is especially true if the test has been sitting on a retail shelf for an extended period before you bought it.

Can You Trust an Expired Test?

After a test reaches its expiration date, it becomes less effective at identifying hCG. Chemicals in the test may degrade, affecting its reliability. According to Dr. John Williams, the risk of false negatives—where the test indicates you are not pregnant when you are—is higher in this case. False positives are rarer but still possible.

In a nutshell, you could get a valid result from an expired test if your hCG levels are high. Nevertheless, it’s riskier, so it’s better not to count on outdated tests.

How to Check for Expiry

Always look for an expiration date before using a test. Brands like FirstView usually print the expiration date both on the box and the test wrapper. Make this a habit, especially if the test has been collecting dust.

Other factors like extreme temperatures or high humidity can also make a test unreliable. Store your tests in a dry place at room temperature for the best results.

The Reality of False Results

Yes, even a brand-new, in-date test can give false results. Dr. Sarah Miller explains that some medications, medical conditions, and testing too soon after a pregnancy loss can result in false positives. As for false negatives, these happen mainly when you test too early. She recommends waiting one to two days after a missed period for the most accurate outcome.

If you have any lingering concerns, consult a healthcare provider to put your mind at ease. Should you get a positive result, a blood test from a healthcare provider will provide confirmation.

When used correctly, at-home pregnancy tests are remarkably reliable. However, it’s crucial to know about their shelf life and to check for expiration dates. When in doubt, consult with a healthcare provider to ensure you are making informed decisions about your health and potential pregnancy.

Written by
Tara Joshi

Tara is a food blogger and a mom committed to sustainable living. She writes about various facets of family life, including plant-based nutrition, ethical consumerism, and eco-friendly practices for households.

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