Updated on January 21, 2016
Pink or Blue? 7 Pregnancy Test Tips
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It’s a pregnancy test, not rocket science! True. Very true, and yet sometimes interpreting the result of a pregnancy test can feel like a science experiment (and in some ways it totally is). Yes, you just pee on a stick and wait a few minutes, but believe it or not, there’s a lot more to it than that. I’ve got seven pointers to help you get the most accurate result on a pregnancy test, right from when to test and what type of test to use. Let me walk you through the ins and outs of home pregnancy tests.
Taking a home pregnancy test is arguably one of the most simultaneously nerve wracking and exciting 5 minutes you’ll spend in your bathroom. Will you be pregnant? Is it still too early to test? Am I going to end up peeing all over my hand? How will I tell my partner if it’s positive? What if it’s negative? So many questions swirl around in your head when you unwrap that test. I realize not everyone is a pee on a stick addict (POAS addict) like me, but my excitement over POAS has left me with a wealth of knowledge about pregnancy tests. Let me share the wealth!
1. Go Pink: Before you even get to that exhilarating 5 minutes in your bathroom, you need to buy a pregnancy test. Have you been to the “family planning” section of the drugstore lately? There are a LOT of pregnancy tests to choose from. How do you know which one will work best? When in doubt, go for a pink dye test. What does that even mean? Well, pregnancy tests come in three basic forms: pink dye, blue dye, and digital. Digital tests are not as sensitive as non-digital tests. What that means is that if your period is not already late (don’t worry, I couldn’t wait that long to test either), there may not be enough HCG in your system to be detectable on a a digital test. So as much as you want to see the word “Pregnant” on a HPT, it’s best to bye a low tech dye test to start out. That leaves you with the blue dye or the pink dye. Is there a real difference? Absolutely. Blue dye tests are notorious for false positives. In other words, you may test and see a blue + symbol, but not actually be pregnant. This is not only incredibly frustrating, but it can also be heartbreaking to realize you are not actually pregnant when you thought you were. So do yourself a favour, and avoid blue dye tests. Pink dye tests are more reliable and false positives are extremely rare. My preferred pink dye test is the First Response Early Result (FRER).
2. Go Cheap: Look, pregnancy tests are expensive and the cost really adds up if you like to POAS every day starting just nine days after you ovulated (or sooner if you’re really impatient). This is where “internet cheapies” come in. You can order very inexpensive pregnancy test strips online for less than $0.50 per test. At that price you can POAS every day for weeks before you even come close to the cost of just one FRER. What I suggest is that you stock up on some “internet cheapies” and when you see a squinter (that’s a test that might look positive if you hold it just the right way and squint just a little) you can crack open an FRER and confirm the result. Test too soon with an FRER and you may as well just pee on a $10 bill. If you really want to see the word “Pregnant” on a test, wait until your period is late, test with an “internet cheapie” and confirm with a digital. I grab my “internet cheapies” from 2 Little Lines.
3. Test First Thing In the Morning: Now that you’re armed with a few at home pregnancy tests, it’s time to POAS. You always want to test with your first pee of the day, or as those in the TTC world call it first morning urine (FMU). HCG builds up in your system overnight, so it is most potent in FMU. That’s not to say you can’t get an accurate result later in the day, but you are much more likely to get an accurate result with FMU. This is especially true if you are testing before your period is late or on the day it is due to arrive.
4. Don’t Actually Pee On The Stick: I know, I know. I just said I was a POAS addict. I lied. It’s more like a PIAC addict. That’s pee in a cup. Why? Because you want to use FMU to test, if you just hold that “internet cheapie” in your urine stream and you get a squinter, you no longer have FMU available to confirm the result with your FRER! And yes, that second pee may no longer have a detectable amount of HCG in it to yield a positive result. Save yourself from having to wait another 24 hours to confirm, and just pee in a cup. Any old cup will do, but I prefer to have paper dixie cups just for this purpose. Collect your urine in the cup (significantly easier that trying to aim your urine stream over a teeny tiny test end), and then dip the test in the urine. You want to hold it in the cup for around 10-15 seconds, then remove it, and lay the test on a non absorbent surface (resting it on top of the cup is perfect). If you get a squinter, you can bust out the FRER, dip it in the same urine, and confirm your result. The bonus of the PIAC method is that the odds are really good you won’t pee on your hand!
5. Check The Test Within The Time Frame: The instructions that came with your at home pregnancy test will tell you how long you have to wait before reading the results and it will also tell you how long you have to read those results before they become invalid. Usually you can check after 3-5 minutes, and you have 10-15 minutes before the results are no longer valid. Why do the results expire? Because sometimes a test will look negative after the waiting period, but an hour or so later you go back and check again just to be sure because you can’t resist. Now you see a line. Maybe it’s not pink (or blue if you went that way), but it’s a line. That’s what’s called an evap line. This happens when the urine on the test strip fully dries and leaves a sign of the evaporation that occurred. It’s usually colourless, kind of grey, and/or quite a bit thinner than the control line. This does not mean the test is suddenly positive. If you see an evap line, you should wait until the next morning and test again with FMU being sure to read the results only within the recommended time frame. Evap lines are more common on blue dye tests than they are on pink dye tests.
6. A Line Is A Line: When it comes to pregnancy tests a line, any line, that appears within the time frame for that particular test counts. Unlike an ovulation predictor kit where only a really dark test line means it’s positive, with an at home pregnancy test any test line that shows up within the time frame, no matter how faint, means you’re pregnant. That’s because HCG is only in your system when you’re pregnant. It doesn’t come and go throughout a woman’s cycle, you’re either pregnancy or you’re not.
7. Decide When To Test: Now you know to test with FMU, but what day in your cycle should you test? This is going to vary depending on the length of your luteal phase (that’s the time between ovulation and your period), but some women can test as early as five days before their period is due. If you want to test that early, use “internet cheapies” so you can test daily without racking up a crazy bill for pregnancy tests! Many women can get accurate results a good two days before their expected period, so if you really want to know, but don’t want to test SUPER early, two days early is a happy medium.
There you have it! Those are my tips for getting the most accurate results out of your at home pregnancy tests. Remember that if you do get a positive test, you should arrange an appointment with your health care provider to confirm the results. If you’re hoping for a midwife, the time to start calling around is as soon as that pregnancy test dries!
Do you have a favourite pregnancy test? How early have you tested and gotten a positive result?