Dollar-store pregnancy tests may be just as reliable as expensive, branded ones

Hollis Johnson/INSIDERThe more expensive tests tend to detect pregnancy earlier.
  • Home pregnancy tests are the first resort for many people, but some can detect a positive result sooner than others.
  • Overall, more expensive brands tend to detect pregnancy earlier, because they are more sensitive to the hormone released by the placenta called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).
  • After you miss a period, most tests should give you the same result.
  • But there are some instances where false positives and negatives can occur.

No home test is going to be as accurate as if you visit a doctor. But in the early stages of pregnancy, many people opt for a kit you buy in shops as their first indication of whether they are expecting a baby or not.

All kits test for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is produced by the placenta when it starts to develop. The levels of HCG increase rapidly in early pregnancy, doubling every two to three days, but it can take a few weeks for it to be detected.

How early a pregnancy is detected with a home test can vary depending on which one you buy. According to pregnancy information site BabyGaga, more expensive branded tests like Clear Blue and First Response are designed to detect pregnancy earlier than dollar store ones – some as early as six days before you miss your period. Meanwhile, dollar store tests tend to detect pregnancy after a missed period.


Read more: 11 things to know before taking pregnancy tests

The NHS website states that if you get a positive test result, it’s almost certainly correct, while a negative result is less reliable. This is because if you do it too early, especially if you’re using a less expensive test, there may not be enough HCG in your urine, resulting in a false negative.

So if you do get a negative result, it’s a good idea to take another one a week later. If your first test was positive and then your second one is negative, there’s a chance you may have had an early miscarriage, so you should seek medical advice to make sure.

Some medications can cause a positive result, even if you’re not pregnant, such as some anti-anxiety, anti-psychosis, and allergy medicines. That’s why it’s always best to visit your doctor if you’re unsure.

In 2018, tests by Business Insider South Africa showed that Clicks digital pregnancy tests consistently gave the result “Pregnant” when exposed to ordinary tap water. So that may be one brand to avoid.

However, overall, whatever test you use, it’s almost certain the results will be the same. It’s only if you’re looking to get a result earlier that it might be worth spending more money.

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