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The first question that pops up is that can you get a false negative pregnancy test? Having missed your period and noticing certain signs, you might have taken the step to undertake a pregnancy test, only to get a negative result. Maybe you are relieved or dejected. But not having your periods even after that, can always hint towards you being pregnant and can be quite a shock to most people.
What is a False Negative Pregnancy Test?
If your pregnancy test yields a negative result but is incorrect, it is termed as a false negative pregnancy test but pregnant. This means that the test indicated that you are not pregnant, when in fact, you actually are. This occurs mostly with the home pregnancy test kits. These kits are built to read the presence of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone in the urine. When it fails to read proper levels of the hormone, it terms the person to be not pregnant.
Are False Negative Pregnancy Tests Common?
A false negative urine pregnancy test then begs one to understand what chances of false negative pregnancy test really are. Generally, false negatives tend to be more common than false positives, with the likelihood of it being approximately 10 percent. Most home pregnancy test kits are usually accurate, with a percentage of 97.4% when they were conducted in clinical trials. In real life with everyday people, the accuracy tends to fall.
Reasons for False Negative Pregnancy Test
In trying to discover what can cause a false negative pregnancy test, there are a number of reasons you may encounter that results in such. In some cases, doctors might themselves know what medications can cause a false negative pregnancy test and try to look for chances of that happening with you.
- Checking the result before the required time: The home pregnancy kit requires some time to react to the urine and depict the result as accurately as possible. Checking before time might give you a negative result when it truly is positive. It is best to follow the instructions on the kit to the letter and wait for around 10 minutes for the result to appear.
- Conducting the test quite early: Many women tend to conduct the pregnancy test by themselves a bit too early than necessary. In the initial stages of pregnancy, the hormone that the kit detects, the hCG, is very low in quantity and is barely discernible. Blood tests are known to fail at these stages so the kits naturally fail to detect it, too.
- Failure to follow the kit instructions : The kit has very specific instructions mentioned on it in order to get an accurate result. If the strips of the kit are not saturated properly with urine, or if the strip gets diluted with water or so falling on it, the result is bound to lose its accuracy. The time itself is of key importance. Checking too soon or checking it hours later may change the original accurate result.
- Test kit sensitivity : Home pregnancy test kits also vary across their sensitivity levels. Certain kits are highly sensitive and can detect extremely low levels of hCG as well, equivalent to a blood test or so. However, other kits might not be as sensitive as that. Therefore, the chances of an inaccurate result might be higher if the kit you use is of low sensitivity and you test it before the hCG levels reach the required level.
- Urine dilution : Since kits purely function on the constituents of the urine, any impurities present in it could cause the kit to give an inaccurate answer. The test should be conducted using the first urine of the morning. It is highly concentrated and has the best chances of containing good levels of hCG if you’re pregnant. This would reduce the chances of a false negative.
- Expiration of the pregnancy kit : It is extremely important to note the expiry date mentioned on the kit prior to purchasing it. If the kit has expired, there’s no guarantee of the result being accurate.
- Ongoing medicines : Certain medicines, specifically those for allergies, or for preventing convulsions in cases of epilepsy, diuretics and so on, have a tendency to cause the kit to deviate from its accurate result. These mostly result in a false negative.
- Ectopic pregnancy : This is rare and usually happens to women who are more than 35 years old. In an ectopic pregnancy , the foetus forms inside the fallopian tube and not the uterus. Therefore, the pregnancy kit fails to detect the hCG levels and gives a false negative. This condition in itself is fatal and such pregnancies need to be removed immediately.
What Can You Do If You Get False Negative Result?
Here are a few things to do after a false negative result.
- Repeat the test : If the first test you conducted turned out to be negative, and your periods failed to commence post a week after the test, then it is time to take the test again. A duration of 7 days is good enough to raise hCG levels within your body if you’re pregnant, which will be easily detected by the kit.
- Talk to the doctor : In case your result was negative and you didn’t have your periods post that, consult with your doctor and get a professional opinion. He may recommend an ultrasound or a blood test and get a highly accurate idea of the pregnancy status.
- Reset the menstrual cycle : It might so happen that the pregnancy kit is right and you aren’t pregnant, but you still might not have your periods. In such cases, check with your doctor or gynaecologist. Once confirmed about the absence of pregnancy, work towards setting the menstrual cycle to normalcy.
Difference Between False Negative/Positive Test & True Negative/Positive Test
False Negative/Positive Pregnancy Test
- The kit shows negative, when in fact, you are actually pregnant.
- The kit shows that you are pregnant, when in fact, you are not.
True Negative/Positive Pregnancy Test
- The kit shows that you are not pregnant, and you really are not pregnant at all.
- The kit shows that you are pregnant, and truly, you are pregnant!
What Could Be Other Reasons for Missed Periods?
A false negative pregnancy test after missed periods can be checked with the doctor and confirmed. But if you truly are not pregnant, there could be other reasons for having missed your periods.
- Stress at home or office can affect the health and lead to changes in the menstrual cycle.
- Previous instances of irregular monthly cycles can result in missed periods later, too.
- Gaining or losing weight excessively leads to an imbalance of hormones, which affects your periods.
- Illness, erratic food patterns, all result in affecting your body and menstrual cycle.
- If you’re on birth control, these are known to disturb your periods.
- Women at higher age and closer to menopause generally face erratic periods.
- Working out excessively affects the balance of hormones and delays menstruation.
- Travelling across long distances and time zones, atmospheric changes, erratic sleep cycles and meal times, affect your period days.
- Lifestyle choices, exercises and movements, all in all, have an effect on your menstruation.
- Some women suffer from a prolactinoma, which reduces estrogen and delays periods.
- PCOS, known as polycystic ovary syndrome, causes improper ovulation and hormonal problems. This further delays your periods.
Seeing a negative result on the kit might cause you to be disheartened if you’ve been looking ahead to your pregnancy. Don’t fret and wait out for a few days to try out the test again. With luck, the previous one would have been a false negative and the subsequent one will give you what you need to start your journey in pregnancy.