When it comes to determining if you’re pregnant or not, a test that provides accurate results as early as possible is high on many people's priority lists. But what’s the best type of test out there for detecting early pregnancy?
There are many different kinds of pregnancy tests, but they all test for the same thing – the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in either blood or urine.
How pregnancy tests work
Quick refresh if you aren’t already elbow deep in the pregnancy world - hCG is a pregnancy hormone that starts showing up after a fertilized egg implants in the uterus, usually 12-15 days post ovulation (assuming you have a 28-day cycle). By about day 10 post ovulation, if an egg has been fertilized and you are indeed pregnant, hCG levels are around 12mIU/mL – an amount some tests should be able to consistently pick up.
Urine pregnancy tests labeled as ‘early result’ detect lower amounts of hCG than others, allowing them to give accurate pregnancy test results at the earliest possible time. That said, many people report having success with a wide range of tests, regardless of their classification.
Here are some of the most popular tests for detecting early pregnancy:
Most of these (besides lab tests with your care provider) are home pregnancy test kits. These are your standard stick, cassette, or dip strip and pee operations typically used a few days before your expected period or after a missed period. Some are more sensitive than others, and all of them will likely leave you with a little pee on your fingers.
First Response Early Result
According to a NYT study, these were able to detect 10 mIU/mL of hCG 100% of the time and 6 mIU/mL of hCG 50% of the time. There are options for digital and analog tests depending on how badly you want to play the "is that a line?" game.
Pregmate LH Ovulation and Pregnancy Test Strips
These urine dip strips come in a pack that allows you to first track ovulation, then test for a subsequent pregnancy. This one detects pregnancy when hCG levels are at least 25mIU/mL.
If you’re into test strips (rather than individual plastic pregnancy tests like Clearblue or First Response), these are another option. These also detect hCG around the 25mIU/mL mark but are comparatively inexpensive.
Clearblue Early Detection Pregnancy Test
A stick test that detects around 10mIU/mL and uses pink dye, which many readers feel is less likely to give false results compared to blue dye tests.
Dollar Store Pregnancy Tests
Inexpensive and accurate enough to be mentioned multiple times by our readers, these are often sticks or cassettes you pipette a couple of drops of urine into. The levels of hCG it can detect varies depending on the brand, but they are all regulated by the FDA and can be trusted to give accurate results.
Done by your healthcare professional, these tests can be either a urine test or a blood test. Both will measure hCG and are very accurate. Depending on your care provider, you might do one or both if pregnancy is suspected (or they're trying to rule it out). Sometimes a blood test is done as confirmation if you’ve received a positive result on a home test or even a negative result that feels inaccurate due to pregnancy symptoms like a missed period or nausea and fatigue.
But the most surprising pregnancy test on the list...your pet!
After asking our FB followers what the best test was for detecting early pregnancy, multiple responders said their pets. Cats were the most common response, but there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that dogs are just as capable.
People report a behavior change, like being insistent about lying on their laps or suddenly becoming very protective of them, as ways they've been tipped off that something is different. Why? With all of the hormonal changes occurring in your body, it's thought the animals are picking up on a subtle change in scent, but at this point, it's all conjecture. (Got a story about your pet cluing you in that you were about to add another mammal to the mix? Share it in the comments!)
So what's the best test for detecting early pregnancy?
First Response Early Result and the Clearblue Early Detection Pregnancy Test have the lowest thresholds for detecting hCG, but people report success with various methods. It really comes down to what fits in your budget and what you feel comfortable using.
Just be sure to follow the instructions so you don't end up on an emotional rollercoaster thanks to a false negative or an evap line posing as a positive result. What's your go-to pregnancy test? Let us know in the comments below!
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