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If you’ve never purchased or taken a pregnancy test before, the vast amount of options lining the shelves of your local drug store might be a little overwhelming. Naturally, you’re going to expect any over-the-counter options to give you an accurate read as to whether or not you’re pregnant. And for the most part, they will do just that. But did you know you can get a 100 percent accurate online pregnancy test with conclusive results without ever setting foot inside the drug store? It’s possible and more common than you might think.
Online Pregnancy Test Accuracy
Keep in mind you’re not going to determine whether you’re pregnant or not by way of an online questionnaire. Though there are many several websites that can help you identify pregnancy symptoms, they aren’t going to give you a definitive answer. You’ll still need to take a blood or urine test to know for sure. And while these tests are available for purchase online, you will need to administer them correctly at home or visit a local clinic for accurate results.
Pregnancy testing checks a woman’s blood or urine sample for a hormone called “human chorionic gonadotropin” (hCG).1 This hormone is present shortly after a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus or about six days after fertilization. In the earliest stages of pregnancy, a woman’s hCG levels will roughly double every 48 to 72 hours. In a healthy pregnancy, hCG levels will continue to rise (although not as rapidly) throughout the first trimester.1
Blood testing analyzes a woman’s blood sample for traces of hCG and is slightly more accurate than at-home options. Blood tests can also detect hCG sooner than an over-the-counter option; around six to eight days after ovulation in most cases. There are two types of hCG tests that analyze blood samples. Qualitative tests simply test for the presence of hCG to determine whether or not a woman is pregnant. Quantitative tests will actually give you an exact amount of hCG in the blood. Quantitative tests are typically done in instances of high-risk pregnancies or to confirm or rule out ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages and are not typically conducted simply as a handy alternative to qualitative blood testing or over-the-counter urine testing.
These are the most commonly-used pregnancy tests and can be purchased at any area drug store or grocery store. There are many varieties available, each with its own detailed instructions, but all work in essentially the same way. Depending on the product recommendations, you’ll need to either urinate on the test itself, urinate into a cup and dip the test, or urinate into a cup and apply a few drops with a dropper. When it comes in contact with urine, the strip on the at-home tests is designed to pick up traces of hCG. If detected, the test will typically change colors or indicate positive or negative (+/- or “Pregnant/Not Pregnant” for example).2 You’re likely to get the best reading with an early morning test as, if you are in fact pregnant, your first-morning urine will contain the highest hCG concentration. Typically a test will have a control indicator that will activate regardless of whether or not hCG is detected. If the control indicator fails to activate, the test is faulty and you should try again with a different test.
How soon should I take a pregnancy test?
Though you’ll understandably want results much sooner, unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a while after intercourse to find out whether or not you’re pregnant.2 Generally, the consensus on when you should take a pregnancy test is right around two weeks after intercourse or one day after your missed period. Either of these benchmarks allows enough time for the fertilized egg to move from the fallopian tube to the uterus, implant into the uterus, and produce enough hCG to be detected by a test. Keep in mind, a blood test will be able to pick up traces of hCG sooner than an over-the-counter urine test.2
The absolute fastest you can test would be six days after ovulation, as this is the shortest amount of time it could take for a fertilized egg to implant into the uterus. However, sperm can live inside the body for several days, so it’s impossible to say exactly when the egg will become fertilized.2
At the end of the day, any commercially available pregnancy test is going to produce results you can count on the vast majority of the time. Whether you visit the drug store, the grocery store, or go with an accurate online pregnancy testing option (like Priority Lab Testing), false negatives or false positives are extremely rare. If you do get a positive result, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to have an ultrasound and discuss the next steps for prenatal care.
“Pregnancy Tests: How They Work, Types & Accuracy.” Cleveland Clinic. Accessed October 19, 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9703-pregnancy-tests.
“Home Pregnancy Tests: Can You Trust the Results?” Mayo Clinic. February 24, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940.