False Negative Pregnancy Test
Reviewed by Edward Kulich, M.D.
A false negative result on a pregnancy test means that the test told you you’re not pregnant when in fact you are. This can sometimes be frustrating, as anxiety levels are already heightened when taking a pregnancy test. There are plenty of choices someone has when they 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 yielding 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/GYN’s recommend against testing before a missed period, as it produces high anxiety levels from the false negative.
Causes of a False Negative Pregnancy Result
There are numerous reasons why false pregnancy test results happen. The most common cause for these results is a missed reaction time. It’s so important that you follow the directions on the box, which includes a reaction time, or time period in which the test will give you accurate results. Some pregnancy tests, such as the digital EPT Pregnancy Test take three minutes before the results will process fully, while other tests make take two or four minutes, and others take up to 10 minutes. Reading the directions before starting, or even doing practice runs can help you reduce the chances of missing a reaction time. If a test sits for too long it too can produce false negative results.
Another common mistake women make is testing too early in their cycle, or a couple days after conception. Blood tests don’t even work that quickly. It’s important you wait until you’ve missed a period or 14 days after conception to yield accurate results. hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels, are too low before this time frame. hCG is the pregnancy hormone. Home pregnancy tests vary in their ability to detect small amounts of hCG in the urine, and hCG levels rise a little differently in different women. It’s very possible that you are pregnant, however the hCG levels are too low for a test to accurately detect it.
Other causes of a false negative pregnancy test result include erratic or improper technique of testing. 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 Out-of-date or old tests will not give you results you can trust. And also remember that certain fertility medications and rare medical conditions may tamper the results of pregnancy tests, as false negatives could be more common in these situations.
What Do You Do About False Negative Results?
The best thing you can do is make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to determine whether or not you’ve tested in an accurate time frame, as you tell them details such as the last time you had intercourse, your last menstrual cycle, etc. Your doctor will also be able to test you via blood. Blood pregnancy tests are able to detect much lower levels of hCG, giving better results and reducing the chances of false negative’s. If you do not wish to see a doctor for this reason, spend a couple more dollars at the store and purchase a test with higher sensitivity and with two tests in the box. You can also purchase two separate tests, both different brands, to see if the results are different.