Most women often get emotional when they need to take a pregnancy test due to the fear of the unexpected. For instance, if someone strongly suspects they are pregnant, they might not want to get false negative pregnancy results after taking a test.
If you are sure you’re expecting but have taken the test and the result is negative, consider reading this post. We shall outline different ways a pregnancy test could have gotten messed up to give a false negative pregnancy.
Are home pregnancy tests accurate?
Before 1970, there wasn’t an easy way for women to determine if they were pregnant without consulting a doctor. Luckily, by 1976, pregnancy tests were invented for home use, making it easier for women to confirm if they’re expecting without visiting a doctor.
Since their invention, the technology in these pregnancy tests has improved significantly. When used as directed, these tests can provide 99% accurate results. So, whenever you use a pregnancy test from home, it’s advisable to read the directions carefully and follow them. If you skip steps or fail to adhere to the timing, you will get the wrong results.
Generally, pregnancy test strips are designed to track the hCG levels, or human chorionic gonadotropin, in the urine. This hormone is created once an egg is fertilised and implanted in the uterus. The body only produces this hormone if one is pregnant unless you have some cancerous tumours that also produce this hormone.
How to reduce chances of a False Negative Pregnancy
Some of the general guidelines you have to follow to get accurate results are listed below:
- Consider taking the pregnancy test on the day you miss your period. If you have conceived, the placenta will start producing the hCG hormone at this point so that it will be present in your urine.
- Ensure you take the test early in the morning because this is the time when the hCG levels are at their highest in urine. Their chance of being detected by the pregnancy strip will be greater.
- You should avoid drinking too much. Don’t be tempted to drink so you can make yourself pee more in the morning because the extra fluids dilute hCG levels, causing the test to fail.
Every test comes with a different positive and negative indicator. Therefore, you must take the time to read the package carefully to understand the results. Some popular effects include:
- A pink line
- A blue line
- A smiley face
- The word pregnant
Sometimes you might get a negative result, only to realise that you are expecting after visiting a doctor. This is called a false-negative pregnancy and occurs when the test doesn’t read the hCG levels correctly.
What are the primary causes of a false negative pregnancy test?
Once you get a negative result after taking a pregnancy test but learn that you are pregnant later on, you might wonder what went wrong. What caused the false negative pregnancy test? Here are popular reasons why this happens.
The pregnancy test has been misused
As mentioned above, every pregnancy test kit comes with a set of instructions that must be followed. If you do not follow each step outlined in the package, the test kit won’t be set up correctly for your urine.
Since each test comes with different guidelines, and its design or technology could vary too, you cannot afford to miss a step or conduct the tests incorrectly and expect reliable results.
If you get false-negative pregnancy test results consistently, and you can feel that you’re pregnant, you should visit your doctor. The medical expert will use a similar pregnancy test and their knowledge of the variables to provide more accurate results.
The pregnancy test is faulty or expired
Using an expired pregnancy test kit can give you a false-negative pregnancy result. This occurs because the kits’ antibodies that react to the hCG have evaporated over time, so only a few antibodies are left to sense the hormones. So, before you take a test, it is crucial to check the expiration date to ensure you get an accurate result. Generally, pregnancy test kits expire a year or two after manufacturing.
A pregnancy test can also be defective from the day it was made. This doesn’t often occur because the kits have a control indicator to prove it’s working properly. The indicator can be seen as an extra line next to a test line or a sign on the window, standing on the kit you are using.
You used the pregnancy test too early
If you take a pregnancy test too early, you will likely test negative whether or not you are pregnant. This is because the body hasn’t produced enough hCG hormones to be detected by the pregnancy test. Usually, the test is designed to detect low hCG amounts, but you will not have enough hormones to detect a week after you conceive.
It’s always better to wait until the first day of a missed period to perform the pregnancy test. Once the hCG levels are high enough, the periods will stop. This means it has been about six days after conception, and a test should provide positive results if you are pregnant.
Your menstrual cycle is miscalculated
Before taking a pregnancy test, knowing the actual timing of your first-period day is essential. However, most women have irregular periods or rarely bother to track them, which increases the chances of using the wrong day.
When you opt to track your period, it will be easy to know your cycle. Remember, every cycle has unique ebbs and flows, so you can always learn the basics, such as the actual link of a cycle. Once you know your cycle, it will be easy to tell the first day you missed your period with more accuracy. A regular cycle should range between 21 to 35 days on average.
Some women like taking a test before the day their monthly period is supposed to begin, but at this time, the hCG levels are still too low to be captured by the hCG test kit.
False Negative Pregnancy: diluted hCG levels
You will get a false negative pregnancy test result if your hCG levels are diluted.
If you intend to take a pregnancy test, it is advisable to do it when you wake up. Most women drink lots of water or other fluids in the morning or late at night to be able to pee for the test. While lots of fluids are good for your health, you should avoid taking them the night before an expectancy test. This way, you will avoid diluting the urine. If you take fluids, the hCG hormones will weaken, so you could get a false reading even when pregnant.
False Negative Pregnancy: Hook Effect
Consequently, if your hCG levels in the urine are too high, you can also register a false negative result. This is known as the hook effect, and it’s rare.
Pregnancy tests track a specific range of hCG in the urine. If you have little, the urine is diluted, or you took the test early before the body could produce enough hormones. If you have excess hCG and take the test too late, the test strip might not bond with the hormones, giving you a negative result.
What should you do if your period is late and the test is negative?
If you do a test and get a negative result but haven’t received your expected period, you could wonder what’s happening to your body. There are several reasons for this, other than being pregnant such as:
- Being overweight or underweight
- Hormonal disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid dysfunction, or high prolactin
- Some chronic health conditions
- High stress levels
- Lack of sleep
- Excessive exercise
If these explanations do not apply, you should consider visiting a doctor for a pregnancy test. The doctor will probably use a blood test, as it’s more accurate and can detect low hormone levels compared to a home pregnancy test kit.
Bottom line: False Negative Pregnancy
Knowing your cycle and following the directions is essential when doing pregnancy tests. If you do this, you will get accurate results. But suppose you suspect that you have conceived and keep getting false-negative results. In that case, it’s advisable to see your doctor so they can determine if you’re pregnant or missed your period for another reason.
Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified enrolled nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.