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This article was medically reviewed by Lauren Demosthenes, MD, OB-GYN, senior medical director at Babyscripts.
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Whether you're trying to have a baby or are checking for an unplanned pregnancy, a home pregnancy test can tell you whether you've conceived by measuring the hormone levels in your urine.
All pregnancy tests — both urine tests and the blood tests you get at a doctor's office — check for the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, explained David Diaz, MD, reproductive endocrinologist, and fertility expert at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center.
When choosing an at-home pregnancy test, you'll want to consider price, ease of use, and sensitivity. According to board-certified OB/GYN, Dr. Pat Alagia, higher-sensitivity tests (lower mlU/mL) might detect pregnancy earlier.
In terms of ease of use, some tests are mid-stream, meaning you insert them into your flow of urine, while others need to be dipped into the sample cup. Consider the time it takes to see a result, too; some tests provide results in as little as a minute, while others take upwards of five.
Below are five of the best pregnancy tests available, including budget-friendly test strips and those that produce quick results. You'll also find answers to a few FAQs at the end of this guide.
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Here are the best pregnancy tests
Best overall: First Response Early Result, available at Amazon, $12.98
The First Response Early Result is ideal for testing before your missed period and is the best overall pregnancy test we reviewed.
Best test strips: Pregmate Pregnancy Test Strips, available at Amazon, $21.95
The Pregmate Pregnancy Test Strips are a great option if you're on a budget and trying to conceive.
Best digital test: Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown, available at Amazon, $27.45
Results on the Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown are displayed in words for quick answers and to avoid a misrepresented reading.
Best quick test: First Response Rapid Result, available at Amazon, $7.99
The First Response Rapid Result provides a reading in roughly one minute, making it the quickest option in our guide.
Best multi-use: Clearblue Pregnancy Test Combo Pack, available at Amazon, $16.94
This Clearblue Pregnancy Test Combo Pack includes two digital tests and two rapid detection line tests, allowing for multiple tests in one pack.
Best pregnancy test overall
The First Response Early Result is ideal for testing before your missed period.
What we like: Highly sensitive, provides results in just three minutes
Check out any online trying-to-conceive (TTC) community, and you'll see references to First Response Early Result (FRER) tests. It's many people's favorite pregnancy test for a variety of reasons. First, it's one of the most sensitive pregnancy tests on the market (one study found it can detect levels as low as 6.3 mIU/mL), meaning it can pick up hCG as early as six days before your missed period.
To use the test, all you have to do is dip it in a cup of collected urine for five seconds or hold it in your urine stream for five seconds, then read the result after three minutes — a relatively short wait time compared to other tests. This test is a bit pricier than most test strips, but you do get three tests in a package which is a great value for this type of test.
Best pregnancy test strips
The Pregmate Pregnancy Test Strips are a great option if you're on a budget and trying to conceive.
What we like: 100 tests in a pack, sensitive, results in five minutes
Pregnancy test strips are essentially the same as tests that come in plastic casing, minus the extra bulk. That makes tests like these ideal if you're traveling, testing at work, or otherwise need a low-profile pregnancy test option. With a sensitivity of 25 mIU/mL, Pregmate's test strips are still able to pick up hCG before your missed period.
Because you get so many tests in one package, you'll be set for double-checking your results or testing across many cycles. In fact, if you're just starting your TTC journey, this multipack can ensure you have enough tests to see you through many months of "trying." Just dip the strip into collected urine for three to five seconds, then read the results in five minutes.
Best digital pregnancy test
Results on the Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown are displayed in words for quick answers.
What we like: Easy to read, results in one to three minutes, comes in a pack
Whether you're hoping for a positive or a negative, a digital pregnancy test is a good option if you just want to know whether or not you're pregnant ASAP, and don't want to spend time reading into the presence of one or two lines. The test can be used from five days before your missed period, and has a sensitivity of 25mIU/mL. To use this test, you hold it in your stream of urine for five seconds or dip it in a cup of collected urine for 20 seconds. After one to three minutes, you'll see the result displayed on the screen as "Pregnant" or "Not pregnant."
As a nice bonus for those who are trying to conceive, the digital display will show the word "Pregnant" for six months, in case you want to show it to someone else, or use it in a pregnancy announcement. Another plus: This test is sold in packs of five, so you won't need to buy more for at least a couple of months.
Best rapid pregnancy test
Get your results in just one minute with the First Response Rapid Result.
What we like: Fast results, comes in a two-pack
Taking a pregnancy test can bring up a lot of emotions. For some, waiting for results is just too much to handle. That's when a rapid option like the First Response Rapid Result Pregnancy Test can be extra helpful. The only potential downside of this test is that it's less sensitive, so it can only be used from the day of your missed period.
Still, many people don't think to test for pregnancy before they miss their period, so this may not necessarily be a con depending on your situation. This test also comes in a two-pack so you can double-check your results.
Best multi-use pregnancy test
This Clearblue Pregnancy Test Combo Pack includes two digital tests and two rapid detection line tests.
What we like: Includes two digital tests and two rapid tests, get results in as little as a minute, sensitive
Experts recommend double-checking your pregnancy test results on different days to confirm the results, whether positive or negative. And sometimes, even if you've already tested twice, you might want to test again just for reassurance. The Clearblue Pregnancy Test Combo Pack is especially convenient for these situations since it includes two digital tests and two rapid line tests.
The digital tests deliver results within three minutes, while the rapid line tests can show results in as little as one minute (or up to three minutes if you're doing the test before your missed period). Both tests are sensitive enough to be used up to five days before your missed period.
Pregnancy test FAQs
When is the best time to take a pregnancy test?
Dr. Diaz recommends waiting a minimum of 10 days after ovulation, or 28 days from the start of your last period, before taking a pregnancy test. It's worth noting that the earlier you take a pregnancy test, the more likely you are to get a false negative, Dr. Alagia adds, as hormone levels haven't gotten high enough to be detectable.
How do I read pregnancy test results?
Always read the instruction insert that comes with the pregnancy tests you've purchased. With a line test, there will be a test line and a control line. The control line shows up to confirm the test is working. The test line only shows up when hCG is detected. Sometimes, these two lines are shown as two parallel lines. Other times, they may be two crossed lines.
And remember: Home pregnancy tests are qualitative. That means if the test line comes up at all — even if it's relatively faint — you are currently pregnant. (False positives can happen, but they're not common. Also, see the question about a positive result followed by a negative result below.)
Digital tests are somewhat easier to read in the sense that they'll display the words "Pregnant" or "Not pregnant," making interpretation simple.
What should I do if I get a positive result?
Repeat the test in two or three days to confirm. "If you document two positive home pregnancy tests, visit your healthcare professional to verify the result with a quantitative hCG blood level test," Dr. Diaz recommends.
What should I do if I get a negative result?
If you tested early, you may want to repeat the test after your missed period. "False negatives are more common than false positives, so if you think you are pregnant and have a negative result, wait a few days and test again," Dr. Alagia says.
A line may also sometimes appear after a negative test due to evaporation. If you're unsure if the test is actually negative or not, take another test or consult your doctor.
What does it mean if I get a positive result followed by a negative result?
"As many as 50 percent of positive early home pregnancy tests revert to negative when repeated a few days later," Dr. Diaz says. This is known as a chemical pregnancy. Chemical pregnancies aren't unusual, and while they can be extremely upsetting, they're very common. They also don't mean a person can't eventually have a healthy pregnancy, according to Dr. Diaz.
If you get a positive result with a test that has a sensitivity of 25mIU/ml or higher, Dr. Diaz says, there's a better chance the pregnancy will continue.
I saw someone else's pregnancy test result online, and it looks darker than mine/different from mine. Should I be worried?
When you first get a positive pregnancy test, it can be tempting to compare your results to others. This is a big no-no, according to Dr. Diaz. "Each pregnancy is different, and comparing pregnancy test results with other people may lead to confusion and unnecessarily stressful situations."
If you're concerned about your pregnancy test results, check in with your healthcare provider ASAP.
Does taking HCG injections impact a pregnancy test?
Sometimes, yes. Someone taking HCG injections may find that a pregnancy test they take produces a false positive.
What should I consider when buying a pregnancy test?
The good news when buying pregnancy tests is that they're most comparable to each other. "Most of the variation is related to packaging, ease of use, and ease of displaying results, rather than accuracy, although some tests advertise higher sensitivity, which may make it more likely to detect earlier pregnancies," Dr. Alagia explains.
It's also important to choose a test that you can afford, and that has clear instructions you can easily follow, Dr. Alagia says. For some, digital tests may be easier to use and interpret, while others find line tests simpler to use. When it comes to line tests, there are two main types: Those with pink dye and those with blue dye. Anecdotally, some say pink dye tests are easier to interpret, but this is largely down to personal preference.
Another key tip is to make sure your test is not beyond the expiration date, Dr. Alagia says, as expired tests may not work as intended.
- David Diaz, MD, reproductive endocrinologist, and fertility expert at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center.
- Pat Alagia, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN and the Senior Medical Director for Advanced Diagnostics and Women's Health for Quest Diagnostics.
- Lauren Demosthenes, MD, OB-GYN, and senior medical director at Babyscripts.
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