Pregnancy Test Review and Comparison Chart
Testing for Pregnancy >> Pregnancy Test Review and Comparison Chart
you need to know - with testing tips!
On topic: Why
In comparing home pregnancy
tests, selecting the best test is based a three key benchmarks: test sensitivity,
the ease of use/interpretation, and price. In considering which test to buy,
we also need to compare test formats and consider branded versus generic tests.
Brand tests (found in drugstores) are typically quite expensive and come in
midstream format. Unbranded tests (like those found at Early-Pregnancy-Tests.com)
are very affordable, but equally reliable, FDA-approved, and typically more
sensitive than drugstore tests (see our pregnancy test sensitivity chart below).
Unbranded tests come in both midstream and test strip formats. Test strips are
the most affordable option and are the same style of tests you will find at
a doctor's office, clinic, or university. All of the tests discussed below are
very accurate; indeed, they exhibit over 99% accuracy in clinical settings.
here to purchase early-detection pregnancy tests with free same-day
In order to review which
tests are the best, we need to first look at how a pregnancy
test works. Pregnancy tests are designed to detect the hormone "human
chorionic gonadotropin", commonly abbreviated as hCG, which is produced
by the placenta in the very early stages of pregnancy. hCG is first produced
when the fertilized egg (or embryo) "implants" in the uterus. This
takes place about six days or so after conception, or the union of sperm and
egg. To make a long story short, fertilization takes place in the fallopian
tube. Once the egg is fertilized, the embryo travels down the fallopian tube
to the uterus. Once in the uterus, the embryo will implant in the lining of
the uterine wall. At this point, the placenta develops and hCG is rapidly produced.
This whole process between ovulation and implantation may take five to seven
days or so.
Following implantation of
the embryo, the amount of hCG increases rapidly - on a daily basis nearly exponentially.
The hCG hormone does travel through the woman's system and ultimately appears
in urine samples. Home pregnancy
tests function by detecting the amount of the hCG hormone in urine. You
can also go to your doctor to have blood drawn - another way of determining
if you are pregnant. Most women opt to test at home first - mostly because home
testing is now convenient, easy, reliable, and very affordable.
If you are pregnant and
the amount of hCG in your urine reaches the specified sensitivity level of a
given test brand, a positive result will be indicated. A positive pregnancy
test will display a "control line" and a "test line".
The control tells you that you have performed the test correctly and it is functioning
properly. The test line tells you if you are pregnant or not. Test lines can
appear as a simple color band, a plus sign, or in he case of digital pregnancy
tests you will see actual words or symbols telling you the good news. Our first
piece of advice is to read the procedural and interpretive instructions of any
test very carefully before proceeding!
The most sensitive
tests (like the ones available at Early Pregnancy Tests.com) are capable of
detect hCG levels at the 20mIU/hCG threshold (mIU, or International Units, is
a level of measurement). 20mIU/hCG is the level of hCG
that is typically present, on average, in the urine of pregnant women at about
seven to ten days past ovulation. 20mIU is really the perfect sensitivity
level, allowing you to test early (before your first missed period) while not
being overly sensitive. If a test is too sensitive, it can detect naturally-low
levels of hCG that may be present in a non-pregnant woman's system.
Something to keep in mind. On the other hand, some drugstore brands offer very
low sensitivity level tests (higher numbers, even over 100mIU/hCG). While there
is nothing wrong with these tests, they do require that you wait longer to begin
testing - well after a woman's missed period.
Most women want to know
as soon as possible, of course, and that is why high-sensitivity tests are very
popular, especially among women who are actively trying to have a baby. For
women who are fertility charting and know when they ovulate every cycle, having
a high-sensitivity pregnancy
test is perfect. At seven or eight days past ovulation, you can begin testing
- the very minute it becomes permissible by instructional guidelines. Of course,
a negative result does not rule out the possibility of pregnancy when testing
this early! However, at this time frame is when a positive result can begin
to appear (based on the average amount of hCG present in pregnant women at this
time). As any woman who fertility charts knows, you can increase the accuracy
and early-detection capability of a pregnancy test by using a "first morning"
urine sample. This is because the amount of hCG in first morning urine will
be higher than other times during the day. Read our chart below to find out
which test is the most sensitive.
Pregnancy Test Brand
(or the hCG threshold at which a positive result is indicated). The lower
the number, the higher the test sensitivity.
Pregnancy Tests.com Standard Tests
|20 mIU/hCG (to purchase
|Answer Early Result
|First Response Early
|One Step Be Sure Pregnancy
|e.p.t. Home Pregnancy
|e.p.t. Certainty Digital
|Fact Plus Pregnancy
|Dollar Store Brand
There is one disadvantage
of high-sensitivity tests, and that is the case of a chemical pregnancy. A chemical
pregnancy is essentially a miscarriage that takes place during the earliest
stages of a pregnancy. With a chemical pregnancy, hCG is produced, but only
for a short period of time as the pregnancy does not continue. In fact, a large
percentage of pregnancies do result in miscarriage just shortly after implantation.
This is a very different situation than a later-term miscarriage and women should
understand that chemical pregnancies are not uncommon. Unless you are testing
early, most women may not even be aware that they were pregnant as a chemical
pregnancy will often end before any physical pregnancy symptoms manifest (including
a missed period). With a very sensitive pregnancy
test, it is possible to receive a positive result - and then later test
negative if the woman experiences a miscarriage (chemical pregnancy).
& Interpretation: False Positive Tests & Ghost Lines
Ease of use and ease of
interpretation are other key factors in comparing pregnancy
tests. Almost all pregnancy tests today are rather easy to use. Most tests
offer handles and you simply point the tip of the test into your stream of urine
as you pee. Easy. If you feel like playing doctor (and saving a lot of money),
you can use strips (also know as dip strips or aimsticks). With the pregnancy
test strips, you do need to collect urine in a cup and then just dip the end
of the strip into the collected sample. Both methods are equally reliable. Women
who actively TTC (try to conceive) frequently use the strips because they are
the most affordable - and when you fertility chart, frequent ovulation and pregnancy
testing is part of the deal.
Interpreting the test is also typically
very easy. As noted above, new digital tests will even tell you in a clear digital
display if you are pregnant or not. The problem with digital kits is that they
are expensive and are less sensitive than more traditional tests. When it comes
to interpreting the tests, there are a few important keys to increasing accuracy
and early-detection. These include:
1. Use first morning urine. Why?
Because FMU will contain the highest amount of hCG. This means you can receive
an accurate result sooner!
2. Hold your urine: If you need to
test in the afternoon or evening, don't flush your body with liquids or urinate
before testing. Hold your urine as long as (comfortably) possible. This way
the hCG in the urine will not be diluted. This is a good alternative if you
want to re-test or if you cannot use FMU.
3. Adhere to the test reaction
time! If you go to Drugstore.com or any product review site, you will find many
women complaining about false positive pregnancy tests. Actually, a false positive
test is quite rare. What may be happening here is that the test user is
trying to read the test after the given reaction time specified by the manufacturer.
The fact is, every test has a time interval that must be respected, typically
between five and ten minutes. Any result determined after the reaction time
should be disregarded or considered "invalid". Why? Two reasons. The
first is that a test will become increasingly more sensitive over time and may
indicate a very faint test line based on naturally levels of hCG (present in
non-pregnant women and even men!). Second, sometimes the chemical composition
of urine will cause a ghost line or evaporation line. Typically colorless, an
evaporation line will only appear well after the given reaction
time of the test. In other words, if you see an evaporation line, you should
not be looking at the test anyway! In other words, if you see a ghost line,
this is not a false positive, as the test reaction time has passed and the any
result should be considered not valid.
A false negative pregnancy
test is typically due to situations where the user is testing too early or
there is not enough hCG in the urine sample. To avoid false negative results,
observe tips one and two, and follow the testing guidelines of the manufacturer.
There may also be instances where hCG levels differ among women. In other words,
for women the rate of hCG production is slower, meaning that she may need to
wait a few days longer before receiving a positive result. Also, implantation
may occur later, which will also result in a bit of a delay in determining a
The nice thing about the
Internet is that you can purchase "clinical" style generic pregnancy
tests. These tests are FDA approved and are as accurate as drugstore brands.
In most cases, they are as sensitive and typically more sensitive than
branded tests. Our tests have a 20 mIU/hCG sensitivity level - which we believe
to be the best. Do note that there are some companies on the Internet that cut
corners and sell "cut" pregnancy tests strips (i.e., strips that have
been "halved" so as to make more money). There are also companies
that sell tests with "late" expiration dates. If you are going the
hCG strip route, then make sure that your pregnancy tests boast: 1. Full 5mm-wide
test strips. This way the test is easier to use and read, and the result area
is very wide for unambiguous results. 2. Maximum expiration dates: Pregnancy
tests have a 2 expiration date. Make sure your tests are young and fresh with
maximum 2 year expiration dates. (Please note
that all test strips sold at Early-Pregnancy-Tests.com offer the maximum
expiration dates and the maximum 5mm-wide strip).
TIP: If you are using a
test strip, do make sure that the collection cup you are using is clean and
dry and does not have any soap or dish-washing detergent present.
Hopefully this pregnancy
test review and comparison has provided you with useful information and
testing tips. There are a number of other less common factors that can influence
pregnancy testing and the accuracy of results. The most important variable,
however, is knowledge. Learning how to use a test and following instructions
is the number one key to early, accurate results. Other issues that may confound
results include residual hCG that may be present in the urine from a chemical
pregnancy (miscarriage), the recent birth of another child, or fertility medications
and infertility drugs. Please note that some fertility drugs do contain hCG
- so if you are using a fertility medication, check to make sure it does not
contain this hormone. The most popular fertility drug, clomid (used to stimulate
ovulation) does not contain hCG and will not interfere with a pregnancy test.
Pregnancy Test Review by
Pat Phillips, Staff Writer
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