Pregnancy Test Could Be Wrong

can pregnancy test be wrong
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Last update: 16-06-2020
Can a home pregnancy test be wrong and show only one line? Is this normal or a serious symptom requiring urgent medical intervention?

Every woman planning to have a child will be interested to know if a home pregnancy test result can be wrong and show “not pregnant,” when indeed, the woman is pregnant. If the woman is in good health, has undergone no significant life changes recently and the test is from a reputable manufacturer, then there should be no errors. However, nothing in life is foolproof, so there is a margin of error with home pregnancy tests which makes it possible to produce incorrect results. What do you do next?

The test kit itself.


No manufacturer can guarantee 100% performance of its products and home pregnancy tests kits are no exception.

Home pregnancy test kits can be easily damaged during transport or storage. Often,  it’s the users themselves who do not follow the instructions. Increased air humidity, temperature drops, damages—even one of these factors is enough to make the test unusable. Another common cause is that the test kit has passed its expiration date.To stack the odds in your favor of getting an accurate result, follow these simple common sense guidelines:

  • Buy home pregnancy test kits only from pharmacies (not in discount stores or online)
  • Check the expiration date before purchasing
  • Throw out any old test kits you still might have purchased years ago and forgot about
  • Pay attention to the conditions of the test kit components for cracks, stains, folds and similar defects
  • Read the storage instructions on the package insert
  • Do not automatically gravitate towards the cheapest products; spend some money on quality and reputation
  • If you want a “second opinion,” purchase test kits from different manufacturers so you can compare results

Not reading the directions.

Often, women are so worried about the result, that they tend to skip over the instructions before taking the test. This cavalier approach can end in a false result.

Common mistakes:

  • Keeping the test strip in the urine for either too long or not long enough
  • Submerging the test strip completely into the container with urine or wetting only the edge of its tip
  • Touching the indicator with your fingers, wiping or rubbing it
  • Shaking the test to “speed up” the answer appearing, carrying it with you instead of laying it on a flat surface and waiting
  • Using the same product more than once
  • Turning and holding the test tip up, not down (for flow and digital tests)
  • Not adhering to the specified amount of time to wait before a result appears. (It could be minutes, hours or longer.) Don’t second guess the instructions. Impatience is natural, but can ruin the results.

In order to receive the most accurate results from your home pregnancy test, it’s is extremely important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions without deviation.

Urine quality.

Most tests specify morning urine, especially in the first weeks after possible conception. The concentration of hCG (the “pregnancy hormone,” to which test indicators respond) is highest in the morning and decreases through the day.. A test taken in the afternoon or evening will not be reliable.

Urine can be stored in the fridge for 24 hours; make sure that the cap is sealed tightly on the container. After a few hours, urine loses some of the properties necessary for pregnancy determination.

Another problem is the impurity of organic substances in the testing urine. If the container was not clean or it was stored in a dusty place, this will also affect the results. Even the presence of plain water in the container may skew the actual result. It is very important to examine the sterility and dryness of the container before use.

Do not eat or drink before taking the test. It also affects the level of hCG in the blood and urine.


Even the most sensitive tests will not show pregnancy earlier than 7-10 days after sex. For reliability, it is better to wait until 1-3 days after the late period to take the test.

Flow tests are usually the most sensitive. Nevertheless, the main indicator of pregnancy is the hCG level, which is listed as 10 mIU/ml on the package. Flow tests can detect pregnancy even a couple of days before the late period. For other types of tests, you need to wait until a couple of days after your missed period.

Cycle features

Late ovulation

Ovulation usually occurs around the middle of the menstrual cycle. However, sometimes it fluctuates for a few days. If woman has a regular cycle, the egg can leave the follicle 1-3 days later. For those whose menstruation schedule is irregular, ovulation can sometimes be late for a week. In rare cases, it occurs even on the first day of menstruation. However, a delay in  ovulation of more than 10 days is considered pathological and indicates health problems.

If ovulation does occur later than usual, the test will begin to show the correct results for approximately 5-7 days after the missed period.

Delay of Implantation

Normally, migration of a fertilized egg to the uterus and attachment to its wall takes 7-10 days. But sometimes, due to many circumstances, the whole process takes even more time.

It is fair to say that such cases are quite rare and are not considered a common cause of «delayed» pregnancy.

Hormonal imbalance

Stress, illnesses, climate, diet and activity changes cause hormonal imbalance. And in addition to a woman’s body trying to cope with raging hormones, the test results can be equally erratic:

  • One day positive, another day negative
  • False positive
  • False negative
  • Undefined when the second line is barely visible
  • Some tests show pregnancy, others—not

Chronic Health Conditions

Diseases of internal organs

An organism is a single system. If one organ functions improperly, it will affect other parts of the body. The test most likely will not show pregnancy if a woman has serious or chronic problems with:

  • Heart
  • Vascular system
  • Kidneys
  • Pituitary gland
  • Urinary tract

These complications inhibit or greatly reduce the production of hCG. Increased amounts of protein in the urine also distort the results of home tests.


This category of cases may be completely asymptomatic, but that’s why it is so dangerous. If you had unprotected sexual intercourse, and tests still show one line, you should definitely see the doctor. Seek medical attention immediately if you start to feel strong or sharp pains, notice atypical discharge or a temperature above 37.5°C.

Possible reasons:

  • Ectopic pregnancy (often tests still react to it)
  • Threatened or missed miscarriage
  • Abnormalities fetal development
  • Problems with the placenta formation
  • Poorly attached embryo

Instead of relying on results of a home pregnancy test, visit your gynecologist. The doctor and a lab test for hCG will give you specific answers. It is better to get expert advice instead of needlessly worrying and trying to diagnose yourself.