How to Read a Pregnancy Test: A Step-by-Step Guide

Taking a pregnancy test can trigger some big feelings. Excitement. Anxiety. Fear. There’s a lot on the line when it comes to waiting for those pink lines to appear. Today we’re explaining how to read a pregnancy test and tips on how to get the most accurate result.

Your period is 4 days late. You feel a bit queasy. Are you finally pregnant or just having indigestion from all those tacos last night? It’s time to take a pregnancy test and find out. 

Taking an at-home pregnancy test can be nerve-wracking, but it’s important to make sure you are taking the test  and interpreting the results properly. In this article, we’ll cover the steps to take, read and understand your pregnancy test results, plus tips to get a more accurate result.


How to Read a Pregnancy Test

Most home pregnancy tests are easy-to-use, convenient and affordable. But sometimes they can be confusing to read, especially if you are very early in your pregnancy. 

Remember that each pregnancy test manufacturer is different, so be sure to read the instructions provided with the specific pregnancy test you are using.

Generally, after urinating on the pregnancy test and waiting the appropriate window of time, you’ll see either:

  • 1 line: If only one colored line appears on the strip, the test is negative and you are not pregnant
  • 2 lines: If two colored lines appear on the strip, the test is positive and you are pregnant

If two lines appear but one is very faint, that still qualifies as a positive test result. It simply means you might be very early in your pregnancy. Try taking another pregnancy a couple days later to see if the line gets thicker or darker. If so, it means that the pregnancy is progressing!

Sometimes the symbols on pregnancy tests aren’t lines, but rather a positive sign or negative sign. Digital pregnancy tests may differ as well, usually just stating either “pregnant” or “not pregnant” with a rough estimate of how far along you might be in your pregnancy. Simply reference the directions of your specific test manufacturer if there’s confusion.

 

What is an Evaporation Line?

Evaporation lines are also fairly common. An “evap” line appears in the results window of the pregnancy test as the urine dries. It can leave a faint, colorless line and does not mean that you are pregnant.

 

When Should I Take a Pregnancy Test?

For the most accurate results, take a pregnancy test after you’ve missed a period, ideally about a week after your missed period. Try taking the test in the morning as well, when your urine is most concentrated.


How Many Pregnancy Tests Should I Take?

Depending on when you take the pregnancy test, it might be worth taking more than one. 

Try taking a second pregnancy test a few days after the first one if your period still hasn’t arrived. But it doesn’t make much sense to try a bunch of different brands all at the same time. 

One or two tests are sufficient to confirm the results.

If your pregnancy test is positive, call your doctor or OBGYN. The next step is usually going into the office for a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. Like the urine test, the blood test also checks for the presence of the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). But blood tests measure the hCG more accurately.

 

False Positive/Negative Results

Most urine-based home pregnancy tests have a 99% accuracy rate, when taken at the right time and in the right way.

If your at-home test is negative, but you still think you might be pregnant, follow-up with your doctor or OBGYN as well. They’ll be able to help get you more clarification.

 

Tips for a More Accurate Result

The last thing you want is to worry about is getting back a false result, especially if you lean towards the Type A personality type. To increase the accuracy of your pregnancy test results, here are some tried-and-true tips to make the process easier and more reliable:

  • Read the test instructions carefully and thoroughly
  • Take the pregnancy test in the morning when your urine is the most concentrated
  • Rather than trying to pee on the stick, pee in a cup first, then dip the tip of the pregnancy test into the cup and let it soak for a few seconds
  • Use a clock or timer to make sure you’re waiting long enough for the results to appear
  • Check the expiration date of your test
  • Make sure you’re not taking the test too early (try waiting until a week after your missed period)

 

The Wait…

The few minutes you spend waiting for your pregnancy test results can feel like years. Here are a few fun ways to pass the time while you wait:

  • Play your favorite song and dance it out
  • Do a short meditation
  • Delete some old photos
  • Scroll through TikTok
  • Hop in the shower
  • Text a friend or loved one

While waiting for the results of a pregnancy test can be incredibly nerve-wracking, know that whatever the results may be, you’ll have more chances ahead to try and conceive. Sometimes it takes a bit of time.

If you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year with no positive pregnancy test, it might be time to find a reproductive endocrinologist to get some tests done and get some questions answered.

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