False Negative Pregnancy Test

A false negative result on a pregnancy test means that the test has told you you’re not pregnant when in fact you are. This can sometimes be frustrating, as your anxiety is already apt to be heightened if you’re taking a pregnancy test. There are plenty of choices that confront you when you arrive at the store to buy a pregnancy test. It’s important that you choose one with a high sensitivity to decrease the chances of a false negative test result. Most experts say to wait to take a test until you’ve missed a period, or 14 days after conception, to get accurate results. Many OB/GYNs recommend against testing before a missed period.

Causes of a False Negative Pregnancy Result

There are numerous reasons why false pregnancy test results happen. The most common cause of these results is a missed reaction time. It’s so important that you follow the directions on the box, which indicate reaction time — the time required for the test to give you accurate results. Some pregnancy tests, such as the digital EPT Pregnancy Test, take three minutes, while other tests may take as long as four minutes, or even up to 10 minutes. Reading the directions before starting can prevent you from missing the reaction time. Allowing a test to sit for too long can also produce false negative results.

Another common mistake women make is testing too early in their cycle, within a couple of days after suspected conception. Even blood tests don’t work that quickly. It’s important you wait until you’ve missed a period — or 14 days after conception. Prior to this, levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) are too low to be detected. Home pregnancy tests vary in their ability to detect small amounts of hCG in the urine, and hCG levels rise at different speeds in different women. Despite a negative test result, it’s very possible that you are pregnant, but the hCG levels are too low for a test to accurately detect it.

Another cause of false-negative pregnancy test results is erratic or improper testing techniques. Most test sticks need to be saturated in urine to get accurate results. If you do not leave your test strip in the urine long enough, it could give you false negative or false positive pregnancy test results.

Check the date on the pregnancy test before purchasing it. Out-of-date tests will not give you results you can trust. Also remember that certain fertility medications and rare medical conditions may affect the results of pregnancy tests, and false negatives could be more common in these situations.

What Do You Do About False Negative Results?

The best thing you can do is to make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to determine whether or not you’re pregnant. Your doctor will test you by examining a sample of your blood. Blood pregnancy tests are able to detect much lower levels of hCG, providing better results and reducing the chances of false negatives.

[Page updated July 2014]