Which is the Best Pregnancy Test on the Market?
As any woman who has asked herself “Could I be pregnant?” knows, there are a lot of at home pregnancy tests on the market today. The choices can be overwhelming. Which of these tests is the most reliable?
First, all home pregnancy test kits use the same method to detect hCG, the pregnancy hormone which the body begins to produce after implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. While the concentration of hCG present in urine can vary from woman to woman, the most sensitive home pregnancy tests can still measure hCG levels when quite low.These are either held in the urine stream or dipped into a cup into which urine has already been collected. If hCG is present in the urine, a line will appear in the “window” and the test is considered positive.
Consumer Reports recently tested 18 different brands, all of which use the same basic method –sticks with absorbent wicks.
In order to test the reliability and sensitivity of the products, hCG was added to hCG-free urine in different concentrations. Each product was tested at increasing levels until giving a positive result, following the package directions exactly. The kits were evaluated for user-friendliness, efficacy, and how easy the results were to read.
The most sensitive kit, the First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test, came out far ahead of its competitors, detecting hCG at concentrations that would give a positive result very quickly after implantation.
However, when allowed to sit for a full 10 minutes (as opposed to the suggested wait time on the package insert), many of the other kits improved their detection rates significantly.
All kits were considered to be user-friendly; however, in terms of ease of result reading, First Response, ClearBlue Easy, and Answer Quick & Simple had the result lines that were most intense, even at lower concentrations.
Overall, the best pregnancy test was First Response's Early Result Pregnancy test (about $18 for two tests), rating “good” in ease of reading and “excellent” for both sensitivity and reliability. The worst-performing test was Confirm’s Pregnancy Test (around $11 for two tests), with a “poor” result in ease of reading and “fair” for sensitivity and reliability, as some samples did not work at all.
And while First Response is obviously the superior choice for at home pregnancy tests, it must be understood that hCG is simply not produced until embryo implantation has occurred, so it is unreasonable to expect immediate results. In addition, 25-30% of pregnancies can achieve implantation, but subsequently fail, which can cause a temporary rise in hCG. For these reasons, CR advises that women wait until a week after the missed period for the most certain results.
If the test is taken as early as the day after the missed period, a negative may not necessarily be negative – and a positive may indicate “a pregnancy destined to end shortly after it began”. For this reason, you should follow up with another test a week later.