Can you have a false negative pregnancy test? …is that a line?

Typically, the discovery of becoming a mom starts with a pregnancy test. Most commonly an at-home pregnancy test. When that pivotal moment comes in your life when you may be pregnant, most women aren’t thinking “Can you have a false negative pregnancy test?” At least that’s not what I was thinking…at first.

It was the Saturday right after the New Year, and I knew I should be starting my period that day. My periods were always regular, so I had a very predictable schedule. I would usually start having cravings and crapping the day or two before starting, and I hadn’t been experiencing any of my usual symptoms this time.

I kept pregnancy tests on hand because we had been trying to get pregnant for some time. Because I hadn’t started my period, I decided to take a pregnancy test just in case. It was the type of test that reads as a line if you are pregnant and no line if not. I peed on the stick and laid it on the counter to sit for a few minutes for the results to process.

The anticipation always kills me, and my heart starts racing every time I take a test. After those few minutes, I looked at the test and no additional line showed up. I threw it away and went about my day.

The next day I still hadn’t started my period and still was having no signs of it showing up either. Confused, my instincts told me to reach into the garbage to take another look at the pregnancy test I had taken the day before. I could see a very faint pink line where the positive pregnancy line is supposed to be.

By this point my mind is racing, my anxiety is elevating, and the excitement is building. I told my husband I needed to run to the store and said nothing further. I got a couple different pregnancy tests, and made sure to get one that clearly read “pregnant” or “not pregnant”, so there was no doubt. Chugging water on my way home I casually walked upstairs to the bathroom and took another test.

There it was “pregnant” right across the window of the stick! I also took another standard line test just to be sure, and the positive line was clear as day this time. I took the tests downstairs, and with a big smile told my husband I had something for him. I then handed him the tests.

How an at-home pregnancy test works

When conception occurs, your body starts producing more of the hormone hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotrophin). Once it reaches a certain level in the body, these tests are able to detect the hormone in your urine. Each day the level of your hCG increases. This is why some pregnancy tests may be able to detect a positive result sooner than others, depending on your hCG level and the test’s sensitivity.

First Response, EPT, store brand? Which test should I use?

Positive pregnancy test

I’ve bought several pregnancy tests over the years. When I was younger, and let’s face it, broke, I bought the cheapest ones I could find. They all said they were comparable to the name brand kinds so I figured they would do the trick and give me results.

After having an incident of an inconclusive test result, I splurged on the test that was going to be the clearest to read. So my consideration for you would be “What test are you going to feel confident taking and reading?”.

Other things to consider would be “When was your expected period or missed period day?” Each test will say how early they can detect a pregnancy. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is a guarantee it will be able to detect it that many days in advance.

Other things to factor in is price of course, as some at-home pregnancy tests can run you $15-20 or more. One last point I will make is it is probably a good idea to get at least two tests at a time. I’m sure almost every woman that has had a positive pregnancy test has gone straight to taking another one just to be sure. I know I did both times I found out I was pregnant.

How do I properly take a pregnancy test anyway?Urine cups

If you have never taken an at-home pregnancy test before, I definitely recommend reading the instructions completely prior to taking the test. While most of them have similar instructions, they do sometimes vary from one to another.

The tests are time sensitive as well, and require a specific contact time with the urine for accurate results. As I do not keep a timer in my bathroom, I would typically count to myself while urinating to try to be as accurate as possible. You can also catch urine in a clean container and dip the stick into it.

The best time to test

The best time to take a pregnancy test can depend on when your expected period day is. If it is the day of or later, than you are most likely fine taking it at any time of day. If it is prior to your expected period day, the tests do recommend you use your first urine in the morning to test from. Your hCG levels are the highest in that first morning urine.

How does a false negative pregnancy test occur?

Now I know you may be thinking “How can you have a false negative pregnancy test?”. As I have touched on in previous paragraphs, there are a couple different ways that a false negative pregnancy test can happen. It comes down to making sure you follow the directions properly for the test, and where your hCG hormone levels are at, in order for the test to detect the pregnancy.

Other things to note would be that drinking a large amount of fluids can dilute your urine and in turn reduce the level of hCG in your urine. Fertility therapies can alter hormone levels and give you an incorrect test result. Also, an expired pregnancy test may also not read correctly.

Pregnant or not…

While there are certainly things that need to be considered for taking an at-home pregnancy test and proper instructions to be followed. In the end, it may just be too early for your body to produce a positive pregnancy urine sample. You may need to just wait a few days and test again or like me the next day!

Always reach out to your physician if you have any questions or concerns. They are going to be able to best assist you with your specific situation!

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