Can a Positive Pregnancy Test Be Wrong?

Medically reviewed by | By

Published on 25/07/2020 . 5 mins read
Share now

When a woman misses her period and has a gut feeling that she’s pregnant, the first thing she would do is to purchase and administer a pregnancy test. However, even though home pregnancy tests are more accurate today, results may still come out differently. The common questions women have when doing a pregnancy test are: Can a positive pregnancy test be wrong? Is an at-home pregnancy test enough to confirm my pregnancy? Let’s find out.

When Should I Take a Pregnancy Test?

There are pregnancy test kits available that claim to determine pregnancy before a woman misses her period. However, to be sure that the result is accurate, you can take a pregnancy test a day after you miss your period.

If you regularly monitor your cycle and notice that you haven’t had it this month, then it is best if you take a pregnancy test right away. On the other hand, if you have no idea when your next period will start, you can take a pregnancy test 21 days after you have had unprotected sex.

Remember that not all over-the-counter pregnancy tests are the same. Some can be more sensitive than others, while other kits can be less accurate. Always read the label and instructions before administering any tests.

can a positive pregnancy test be wrong

How Does a Pregnancy Test Work?

A pregnancy test works by detecting if human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is present in the urine or blood. A pregnant woman’s developing placenta will start to produce hCG hormones 10 days after conception.

It is important to wait before taking a pregnancy test since hCG becomes more potent while the pregnancy progresses. If you take the test too early, then the hCG level may not yet be detectable, especially if you are using an at-home pregnancy test kit.

If you want to check the accuracy of your at-home test or confirm your pregnancy as soon as possible, it is best if you ask your doctor for a pregnancy blood test.

What Are the Types of Pregnancy Tests?

Your pregnancy can be detected either from urine or blood samples. Here are the types of pregnancy tests you can take to verify your pregnancy:

Urine tests

Urine tests can be done at home using a pregnancy test kit that you can purchase in your local drugstore, or you can have it done at the hospital.

The following is the process of a urine pregnancy test at the hospital:

  • Your attending physician will ask you to collect urine samples in a specimen cup.
  • Then the doctor will use a dropper to put a few drops of urine on the test kit.
  • An indicator will show whether you are pregnant or not. Test kit indicators will either change colors or show a symbol.

The urine pregnancy test done at the hospital is accurate enough to confirm pregnancy compared to a home-pregnancy test.

There are different at-home urine pregnancy test kits you can purchase. At-home UPT is done by:

  • Either urinating directly on the strip, collecting the urine in a cup and dipping the strip in, or collecting pee in a cup and using a dropper to transfer a few drops of pee in a special container.
  • Set the test aside and wait for a few minutes to see the results. Remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how long you need to wait for the results to come out.
  • You can set a timer on your phone that reminds you when the test is done. Do not leave the test longer than the said time as results may change.
  • Once the test comes out positive, immediately schedule a visit to an OBGYN, so a doctor can give you the right assessment and care that you need.

Although home-pregnancy tests are 97% accurate, there are still instances when home-pregnancy test results are wrong. That is why a second opinion or multiple tests are needed to see whether results are going to change or not.

Blood tests

If you want to confirm your pregnancy in the most accurate way possible, then a blood test is recommended. Blood pregnancy tests are 99% accurate and can confirm pregnancies earlier than urine pregnancy tests as it can detect low hCG levels.

The blood pregnancy test procedure includes:

  • Drawing blood samples from a vein in your arm.
  • Handing over the blood samples at the laboratory for testing.
  • Wait for a couple of days for results to come out.
  • The laboratory technician will inform your doctor about the results, and your doctor will pass the results to you.

Can a Positive Pregnancy Test be Wrong?

There are times when pregnancy test results are not accurate, especially if a woman is using a home test kit. Can a positive pregnancy test be wrong? That’s the common question of women who may have gotten a positive test result but are still in doubt if they are really pregnant.

What are the other test results that might confuse women? Normally, a test will show either a positive or negative result. But, there are rare occasions where results come out as false-positive or false-negatives.

What is a False-Positive?

A false-positive is a very rare pregnancy test result which shows a positive result even though the woman isn’t pregnant. The reasons why this result comes out may be because of the following:

  • Blood or protein in the urine
  • A defective pregnancy test kit
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Menopause and other ovarian problems
  • Recent miscarriage or abortion (since hCG is still present in a woman’s blood and urine 6 weeks after the loss of pregnancy)
  • If you took or are taking certain medications, such as fertility pills, anticonvulsants, diuretics (water pills), and tranquilizers.

To answer the question, can a positive pregnancy test be wrong? Yes, it can. It is best to try other tests on succeeding days or consult a doctor.

What is a False-Negative?

A false-negative is another misleading result which shows a negative result in the pregnancy test when the woman is actually pregnant. The causes of a false-negative include:

  • A faulty test kit or incorrect usage of the kit.
  • Taking the test too early when hCG is not detectable yet. Normally, test kits must be used a day or a week after your delayed period.
  • Checking the results too early or too late. Keep in mind to set a timer when using a pregnancy test.
  • Using diluted urine in the test kit. Diluted urine is caused by drinking lots of water before doing the test or taking the test later in the day. For accurate results, it is best to take the test first thing in the morning, once you wake up, and before taking in any fluids.

There are other reasons why your period is delayed aside from pregnancy. You might be:

  • Stressed
  • Breastfeeding
  • Weight loss due to extreme diet and exercise
  • Overweight or obese
  • Nearing menopause

If you have concerns regarding the result of your pregnancy test, always consult a doctor, so you can have the opportunity to verify if you are pregnant or not.

Key Takeaways

Taking a pregnancy test can be nerve-wracking. If you think you are pregnant, take a test immediately, and talk to your doctor right away for any concerns.

As you wait for confirmation from your doctor, it is best that you take care of yourself as if you are pregnant. Blood test results may come out after a few days. This is just to make sure that whatever the results are, you will not be endangering yourself and your baby.

Learn more about Pregnancy and Getting Pregnant, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Was this article helpful for you ?
happy unhappy

You might also like

Vaginal Pain During Third Trimester – Is It Normal?

Is vaginal pain or pressure normal during the third trimester? In this article, we'll discuss its common causes and simple home remedies.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Third Trimester 25/09/2020 . 4 mins read

What You Can’t Eat When You’re Pregnant

Knowing what you can and what you can't eat while you're pregnant can help you avoid any problems and complications during your pregnancy.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Jan Alwyn Batara
Being Pregnant 23/09/2020 . 4 mins read

Safe Sex After Giving Birth: A Guide for New Moms

Becoming physically intimate with your partner again after childbirth could be difficult. Here are some important reminders on safe sex after giving birth.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Postpartum and Self-care 23/09/2020 . 4 mins read

Taking a Bath After Giving Birth: A Guide for New Moms

The instructions in taking a bath after giving birth depends on whether you had a vaginal delivery or C-section. Here's what you need to know.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Postpartum and Self-care 22/09/2020 . 4 mins read

Recommended for you

2nd trimester pregnancy pains

What Are The Common 2nd Trimester Pregnancy Pains?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Published on 16/10/2020 . 4 mins read
staying healthy in the third trimester

6 Tips for Staying Healthy in the Third Trimester

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao
Published on 07/10/2020 . 3 mins read
cord coil complications

Cord Coil Complications

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao
Published on 07/10/2020 . 3 mins read
postpartum hemorrhage causes and risk factors

Postpartum Hemorrhage: Causes and Risk Factors

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Published on 04/10/2020 . 4 mins read