How reliable are home pregnancy tests?

There are a lot of different pregnancy tests out there to choose from.  In 2014 there was more than 60 brands available in the US alone!

But just how reliable are these tests? Should you trust them to confirm your pregnancy? 

Before we answer these questions let’s take a look at home pregnancy tests work.

Home pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of hCG (human chorioinic gonadotropin) in your urine. This is a hormone that is produced by the placenta, which nourishes the egg after it is fertilized and attached to the uterine wall.

The reliability of a home pregnancy test is dependent on when you take the test.  

In 85% of normal pregnancies, the hCG level will double every 48-72 hours.

This means that the longer you wait after conception to take a home test, the higher the hCG level in your urine, and the more accurate the results will be.

A lot of tests claim to be accurate as soon as the first day of your missed period. However, it is better to wait until a few days after your missed period.

Despite what many people think, false positives, although possible, are extremely rare.  Because pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of hCG, false positives can occur when something other than a healthy pregnancy is affecting your hCG levels, such as taking fertility drugs or medications containing hCG, an ectopic pregnancy, early miscarriage, or other reproductive health issues.

False negatives can occur if you take a test too early, do not wait the proper amount of time to check the results of the test, or if you use diluted urine.

So should you trust a home pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy?

Yes and no.

Yes, when used correctly a home pregnancy test is fairly reliable for detecting pregnancy. Despite just being a few dollars and being able to be performed at home, urine pregnancy tests are almost as accurate as blood pregnancy tests.

However, a positive home pregnancy test simply tells you that you have the pregnancy hormone hCG present in your body. It does not confirm that you have a viable pregnancy (a healthy pregnancy that is not ending in miscarriage).

That’s where we come in. At North Care Women’s Clinic we are experts at pregnancy confirmation.  The best way to tell if you have a viable pregnancy, and to tell how far along (how many weeks old) your pregnancy is, is an ultrasound.  We offer free-of-charge ultrasounds to clients with a positive pregnancy test.

If you have had a positive home pregnancy test and want to know for sure if you have a viable pregnancy, and learn more about your next steps, then click here to schedule an appointment.  



American Pregnancy Association. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG): The Pregnancy Hormone. September 2016. Retrieved from
Clinic Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM). Volume 53, Issue 3. Pages 339-341, ISSN 1473-4331. DOI:, November 2014.
Mayo Clinic. Home Pregnancy Tests: Can You Trust the Results? December 2, 2015. Retrieved from