You are planning to get pregnant. For several weeks now, you have been watching out for the earliest signs of pregnancy and you feel changes to your body. Finally, you miss your period and you purchase a pregnancy test.
Yes! You see two lines on the pregnancy test. Since you’re always on the safe side, you take another test. The next thing that happens just utterly confuses you: your pregnancy test was first positive, but now it’s negative. What does this mean? Are you really pregnant?
Don’t jump to conclusions just yet! In this article, we will help you figure out what it means to get a negative result after getting a positive pregnancy test. We’ll also answer some of the most common questions about this.
How Pregnancy Tests Work
Let’s first figure out how things work before we dive deeper. A home pregnancy test kit works by detecting the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. When you get pregnant, the fertilized egg travels down to the uterus and is implanted into the uterine lining. The placenta then begins to form, which in turn produces the hCG in your body.
There are two ways to detect hCG: through blood and through urine. The former is done inside the doctor’s office and is more expensive to the latter. A blood test can be done 11 days after conception. The latter is cheaper and can be done on your own, but it is best used 12 to 14 days after conception.
The reason that you need to wait before getting a pregnancy test is to make sure that the hCG amount is not too low to be detected. Different home pregnancy tests have different thresholds of sensitivity to hCG so you should be mindful of that as well. hCG levels double every 72 hours through 8 to 11 weeks of pregnancy and then remains constant after that.
Types of Pregnancy Tests
Don’t be confused. There are different kinds of pregnancy tests out there that not only differ on the sensitivity level, but also on the method used.
- Mid-stream – Mid-stream pregnancy tests work by holding the kit for a few seconds as you urinate directly onto its absorbent tip.
- Dip – Dip tests work by dipping a test strip into a cup of urine for a few seconds.
- Dropper – Some pregnancy test kits also provide a dropper. After collecting urine in a cup you simply have to use the dropper to drop some of the urine onto the kit.
Pregnancy Test Positive Then Negative: How It Happens
There are many reasons for a woman to get false positive test results, or changing results that just gets really confusing. It may be due to human error, an underlying medical condition, or due to medications. Read on to find out more about this.
Pregnant, but Not Anymore
This is also called a chemical pregnancy. It is not unusual for some pregnancies not to make it through the first few weeks. You might have already had a miscarriage but since the embryo is still too small, you might not have noticed it. You might have gotten a false positive result since there is still hCG in your urine.
Recently Gave Birth
The hCG in your body does not go away in an instant. If you have recently given birth and have taken a pregnancy test too soon after giving birth, you might still get a positive result since the hCG in your body is still higher than usual.
The Test was Left Too Long
Depending on the type of pregnancy test kit you are using, a reading is expected to be finished around 3 to 5 or 10 minutes after doing the test. You may have initially gotten a negative test, but since the kit it damp, the ink could make its way across the strip. This makes it seem that you have a positive result instead of a negative.
The Test was Not Done Correctly
Before taking a pregnancy test it is important that you read the instructions and follow them correctly. Not all tests are made equal, and not all of them should be done the same way.
Make sure that you are not taking the test too early into the pregnancy. Moreover, it is safest to use a timer to make sure that you do not dip the pregnancy strip too long into the urine. It is also best to take the test when your urine is most concentrated like how it is early in the morning.
The Test was Out-of-Date
Another reason why you might be getting confusing test results is that you are using an expired test kit or a defective one. Make sure that you read the labels and that you are using a functional pregnancy test kit.
If you are taking fertility medications, ask your doctor about it. Some of it may involve hCG hormones and may contain it. Thus, you might get a false positive test result. hCG in these medications help your body release an egg cell.
Unusual Medical Condition
This reason might be more worrying than the other causes of a false positive or a false negative test. Some examples are ovarian cysts, urinary tract infection, or kidney disease. A more serious condition is ovarian cancer.
An ectopic pregnancy might also be another reason why you have a positive test result. An ectopic pregnancy happens if the fertilized egg cell remains in the fallopian tube instead of traveling to the uterus to be implanted into the uterine lining. This condition is serious and may be life-threatening, thus requiring immediate medical attention.
Short Gap Between Tests
If you have taken another test shortly after you have gotten a positive test result, then you are likely to get a false negative result. This is because the hCG in your urine is lower. Your urine is also more diluted. It is best to wait until the next day before trying to get a confirmatory test.
Using Different Brands
When taking a pregnancy test, it is best to use the same brand of tests. This is because different brands are made differently and one might show a different result compared to another.
Different Sensitivity Levels
In the same line of thought, make sure that the test kits you buy are not only from the same brand but are also of the same sensitivity level. This way you can make sure that you are getting consistent results.
How to Take a Pregnancy Test
Some of the reasons mentioned above are due to human error. How exactly should you take a home pregnancy test?
The best thing to do is to wait after you have missed your period. Some pregnancy test kits promise that they can detect hCG levels a day after you missed your period, but it is best to wait a week after. This is to ensure that the hCG levels in your urine are already high enough to be detected.
Next, do not read the results long after the allotted time indicated on the instructions. This is to avoid misreading evaporation lines as positive results.
When taking a test, do not drink too much water or take the test mid-day. Drinking too much water dilutes your urine. Taking the test early in the morning is also best since your hCG levels are at its highest at this point.
When to See a Doctor
See your healthcare provider right away if you feel symptoms that are out of the ordinary. With that, it is important that you understand the early signs of pregnancy for you to know whether what you might be experiencing is normal.
Generally, see your doctor right away if you feel extreme pain, cramps, or bleeding. These are signs that what you might be experiencing is not pregnancy but some other underlying medical condition.
Of course, take a trip to your doctor after a pregnancy test determines that you are indeed expecting. Seeing the doctor is important to help ensure that you will have a safe pregnancy and that your little one will be healthy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to get a false positive?
False positives are extremely rare and are less likely to happen compared to false negatives. Still, based what is discussed, it is possible to get a false positive due to a recent miscarriage or pregnancy. Otherwise, the error is on mostly on the end of the user due to misusing a pregnancy test kit.
Am I still pregnant after getting a negative?
It depends. The best thing you could do is to wait again for testing and make sure that the instructions indicated on the kit are followed. However, it is likely that you are still pregnant after getting a negative after a positive. It might be that you have just taken the test too early for the hCG to be detected. You might have also taken the test too late in the day, or you may have simply failed to follow the instructions on the kit.
Can I get a positive the next day after a negative?
Yes, you can. These are called false negatives and these are more likely to occur compared to false positives. Once again, this is mostly tied up with the mistakes on the part of the test kit user. Make sure that your urine is not diluted and that you follow the instructions of use closely. You might even want to use a timer to make sure you follow the indicated waiting time.
How accurate are pregnancy tests?
Pregnancy tests are getting more and more accurate these days. In fact, if you have had a positive result, it is highly probable that you are really expecting. To get a false result on a test is extremely rare and is probably due to human error. Some of these pregnancy test kits claim a 90% accuracy but still, there are some test kits that are not as good in diagnosing a pregnancy.
If you are an expecting mother, it can get really confusing to get a changing result, especially if you get a negative right after testing positive for pregnancy. In this article, we learned that although it is rare, it can happen. First, it is likely that you may have had an early miscarriage. Second, it may be due to an underlying medical condition or other medications. Third, it may be to human error.
Whatever the case may be, it is important that you understand your body and that you know when to see your doctor should you experience something out of the ordinary.
- Villines, Z. (2018). What to do about an evaporation line on a pregnancy test https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322633.php
- Pregnancy Tests. (2018). https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-tests
- Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results? (2015). https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940