A pregnancy test provides a fast, reliable, affordable, and discrete way to determine if you are pregnant.
Pregnancy tests use diagnostic strips that react to the presence of the pregnancy hormone HCG in human urine. Simply expose the absorbent end of the strip to urine as instructed, wait three to five minutes, and the strip will indicate whether or not you are pregnant.
Pregnancy tests are available without a prescription and can be purchased online or in various brick and mortar outlets. The following are the best pregnancy tests of 2021.
1. Easy@Home Pregnancy Test
For those who want a reliable pregnancy test and cannot get enough of smartphone apps, there is the Easy@Home Pregnancy Test. Each package comes with five test strips whose results can be displayed on your Android phone.
What we like: One of the better tests at detecting low levels of HCG. It is also one of the faster tests, with just a three-minute wait. The Premom Ovulation Predictor App is a nice touch (if you want to spend the time to set it up).
Flaws: Most complaints center around them not being easy to read. Plus, anytime apps are involved, there are potential privacy issues.
2. Clearblue Rapid Detection Pregnancy Test
Clearblue specializes in at-home pregnancy tests, and this is their best. It is very easy to use, and provides a ‘floodguard’ feature that prevents excess urine from spoiling the results. Clearblue is one of many brands owned by Swiss Precision Diagnostics.
What we like: Clearblue earns high marks across the board for accuracy and ease of use. The device is very easy to hold, and the floodguard feature reduces invalid results. It is also hard to beat the one-minute results.
Flaws: Not always as easy to read as they would have you believe. Also, one-minute results are only possible starting the first day of your period.
3. iProven One Step Pregnancy Test
iProven is a maker of at-home medical diagnostic equipment that was founded in 2009. Their One Step Pregnancy Test gets consistently outstanding reviews and uses a combination of ovulation and pregnancy test strips to provide a foolproof result.
What we like: The triple check confirmation process leaves no doubt one way or the other. It is highly accurate on day one of your period. The 100-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee is nice to have.
Flaws: The strips can be decidedly hit-or-miss.
4. First Response Triple Check
First Response has some serious corporate muscle behind it, being a subsidiary of Arm & Hammer. The First Response Triple Check test takes the multi-step approach to help ensure you get the most reliable result possible.
What we like: First Response is perhaps the best commercially available early pregnancy test. Probably because it checks for a half dozen forms of the pregnancy hormone. The three-stage confirmation process removes uncertainty.
Flaws: It is one of the more expensive brands. Also, it is reasonably accurate. But not 99% accurate. Only 99% accurate for those with ‘typical’ hormone levels.
5. New Choice Pregnancy Test
New Choice Pregnancy Tests are made by a company called SCI International. They are a maker of medical instruments and supplies, including pregnancy tests. They have an A+ rating with the BBB.
What we like: A reliable pregnancy test anyone can afford. It eliminates having to hold the strip under you to get it wet. It provides dependable results from the first day of your period onward.
Flaws: You will not have to pee on the strip. But you will have to supply your own cup and then eyedropper urine from the cup to the strip.
6. Pregmate Pregnancy Test Strips
Pregmate makes test strips and only test strips. This box includes 25 individually wrapped test strips that will produce an accurate result in five minutes.
What we like: If you are trying to become pregnant, you may have to conduct multiple tests. Having 25 strips handy can ensure you are covered. Dependable results in five minutes. Very affordable too.
Flaws: More invalid results than we would like to see. Fortunately, you have 25 strips.
7. Wondfo Pregnancy Test Strips
Wondfo is a Chinese biotech company based in Guangzhou, China, that has been around since 1992. They were one of the first Chinese companies biotech companies to establish a global presence.
What we like: Wondfo Test Strips are easy to use, employing the familiar dip method. They can provide an accurate reading in three minutes from the first day of your period. We like that each strip is individually wrapped.
Flaws: Not very good for early testing. The indicator strips are sometimes pretty faint.
8. Docalon Pregnancy Test
Docalon Pregnancy Tests are produced by Shenzhen Longhua Industrial Co. Ltd, Shenzhen, China. They are affordable and reliable, can be used any time of the day, and produce results in just three minutes.
What we like: The device is very easy to hold, which helps ensure an accurate reading. Indicator lines tend to be nice and clear. Each device is individually sealed in its own package.
Flaws: Will not detect pregnancy before the first day of your period. Directions can be a bit confusing.
9. AFAC Pregnancy Test
AFAC pregnancy tests are not the cheapest tests on the market, nor are they the easiest to use. However, if you can follow the directions to the letter, they will provide you with a very reliable result.
What we like: The AFAC Pregnancy Test device is very easy to get a solid grip on. You get results faster than with some other brands. Very reliable from the first day of your period.
Flaws: Holding it perfectly still in your urine stream for at least 10 seconds may be challenging for some. The ‘T’ and ‘C’ letters are going to confuse some women.
10. AccuMed Pregnancy Test Strips
AccuMed LLC is a five-year-old Texas company with a generally outstanding reputation for marketing high-quality medical products. Their Pregnancy Test Strips are among their best sellers.
What we like: In theory, you should be able to detect a pregnancy as much as five days before missing your period. We like that you do not have to pee onto the strip. Overall, very easy to use and understand.
Flaws: You will have to provide your own cup for dipping.
Who Needs a Pregnancy Test?
Anyone who suspects they might be pregnant can benefit from a pregnancy test. In addition, any woman trying to get pregnant will want to keep a supply of pregnancy tests on hand so she can test herself when she thinks it is appropriate or necessary. Also, any sexually active woman planning on undergoing surgery in the near future should pick up a pregnancy test to ensure she is not expecting before she heads into surgery. Some surgeons will not proceed with an operation unless provided with a negative pregnancy test first.
How We Ranked
Pregnancy tests are very simple in both design and execution, so ranking them is not like ranking smartphones or luxury autos. That said, several important considerations go into separating the good pregnancy tests from the not-so-good.
Effectiveness is the number one consideration, obviously. Since virtually all pregnancy tests claim to detect 99% of pregnancies, we spent long hours combing through user feedback to try and see if there was a consensus on which tests worked best. That consensus is reflected in our rankings.
We also considered ease of use. Pregnancy tests are stressful enough without having to spend an hour trying to figure out how the test itself works. So every test had to be user-friendly and not present any hoops for the user to jump through. The resulting positive or negative indication also had to be as clear and easy to interpret as possible.
Finally, we considered the price. We were surprised to find there is actually quite a disparity in pricing for pregnancy tests. So, if a particular pregnancy test was twice as expensive as another, then the user consensus had to be that it was much more reliable. If there was no such consensus, then the price would hurt its ranking position.
A pregnancy test is the easiest way to find out if you are pregnant. With the exception of a blood test conducted by your doctor, the modern home pregnancy is the best way to determine if you are pregnant. It is also the most convenient since you do not have to take time from your busy schedule to go to the doctor’s office. You can perform the test after you wake up and have the results in just a few minutes.
A pregnancy test can alert you to a birth control failure. While oral contraceptives are, for the most part, very reliable, they are not foolproof. 5% or more of women using the birth control pill wind up pregnant each year (1). When it happens, it can be extremely disconcerting, and the women involved need to know as quickly as possible so they can determine the right course of action. A pregnancy test can provide that information.
A pregnancy test can signal it is time to make changes. Women wishing to have a healthy baby may need to make changes once the pregnancy test signals they are pregnant. Eating habits may need to be modified, and it will be essential to minimize contact with harmful chemicals. Alcohol consumption should be avoided (2), and those that smoke will need to quit immediately (3).
A pregnancy test is faster than a blood test. Blood tests typically provide slightly more accurate results than urine tests. They also provide more information. But regardless of what a blood test is looking for, it will need to be sent to a lab. There, it will be put in line with everything else. So, it can take several days to get the results back. By comparison, a home pregnancy test can provide the information you need in as little as five minutes.
A pregnancy test can provide guidance for using medications. If a woman is taking medication, she will want to discuss the matter with her doctor to ensure there is no chance the medication may cause problems. Some common medications are safe to take while pregnant others are not. For instance, something as simple as your antacid may increase the risk of birth defects (4).
A pregnancy test can be bought without a prescription. There are not many things associated with healthcare that are available without a prescription today. But fortunately, the pregnancy test is one of them. They can be purchased quickly and easily by anyone who needs one either online or in a pharmacy. Many other types of stores sell them as well, including some convenience stores.
A pregnancy test puts an end to uncertainty. Uncertainty and stress are inextricably linked (5). And few situations are as stressful as wondering if you might be pregnant. The degree of uncertainty is intense, as are the myriad feelings that wash over a woman as she waits to find out whether her suspicions about being pregnant are justified. A simple pregnancy test can put an end to the uncertainty in just a few minutes.
A pregnancy test is simple. Lab tests tend to be extremely complex procedures. But the home pregnancy test is blissfully simple. All you need do is wet the end of the test strip as indicated in the instructions and wait a few minutes.
A pregnancy test can be conducted in private. Pregnancy is an intensely personal experience from beginning to end. For a variety of reasons, when they first begin to suspect they may be pregnant, many women want to keep their suspicions to themselves until they know for sure one way or another. A pregnancy test can be purchased discretely and performed in private, so your business stays your business.
A pregnancy test is accurate. When used as directed, most of the best pregnancy tests will provide an accurate result 99 times out of 100. In order to ensure the most accurate possible result, make sure you follow the instructions on the package to the letter.
A pregnancy test is affordable. Americans spend billions of dollars every year on needed and unneeded medical tests (6). When compared to most medical tests today, home pregnancy tests are incredibly affordable. For just a few dollars you can find out if you are pregnant and start formulating the best response for you. Few other devices, except perhaps the thermometer, can provide such useful information so quickly and affordably.
A pregnancy test is not affected by most medications. Pregnancy tests are not affected one way or the other by most common medications. So if you are taking NSAIDs for pain, antibiotics to deal with an infection, or most other medications, you can go ahead with your pregnancy test without worrying.
A pregnancy test can be an exciting thing to share. Sharing a pregnancy test with your partner can be an exciting experience. It can help reinforce the bond between you and provide a way for both of you to deal productively with your uncertainty and even anxiety. It is likely neither one will ever forget the moment the pregnancy test came back positive.
A pregnancy test can be done virtually anywhere. Blood pregnancy tests have to be performed in a doctor’s office under medical supervision. By contrast, you can perform a pregnancy test anywhere at any time. (Although it is recommended you do so first thing in the morning.) If you are on vacation overseas, on an epic road trip or away at college, you can perform a pregnancy test if need be.
A pregnancy test can eliminate other potential causes for your symptoms. Numerous other conditions can cause nausea and other symptoms that mimic those of pregnancy (7). Viral infections, stress, ulcers, changes in diet, and more may produce pregnancy like symptoms. Performing a pregnancy test can eliminate these as the cause of your symptoms.
A pregnancy test can help you get out in front of work challenges. There is little doubt that pregnancy is going to impact your professional life. So the sooner you start planning on how to accommodate and adjust to that impact, the better off you will be. No one should have to give up their career if they do not want to simply because they are pregnant. But finding a way to accommodate the needs of both job and baby will take time.
Q: What is a home pregnancy test?
A: A home pregnancy test is an over the counter product most often consisting of a test strip that is designed to detect the presence of the hormone HCG in a woman’s urine. Exactly how the urine is delivered to the strip varies from test to test. Most tests, however, require the woman to expose the end of the test strip to her urinary stream. The positive or negative result is indicated by the appearance of a line or lines on the strip.
Q: What exactly does a home pregnancy test measure?
A: The home pregnancy test measures HCG levels. HCG is a hormone most often produced by women soon after conception. The common belief that HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is only produced by pregnant women is not entirely accurate, however, since it is also produced as a byproduct of certain types of cancer (8).
Q: When is the best time to test?
A: By far, the best time to conduct a pregnancy test is first thing in the morning with the first pee of the day. This is unlikely to be diluted by water or other fluids and will have the highest levels of HCG (if you are actually pregnant). As far as what time of the month is best, it is generally thought to be counterproductive to test before the first day of, what should be, your normal period (9). Some doctors suggest waiting as much as a week after missing your period.
Q: Should I always test twice?
A: If your first test produced a confusing or uncertain result, then testing again is a common sense thing to do. However, if your first test produced a clear positive or negative result, then whether or not you test again is a matter of personal preference. If you feel more comfortable testing again to verify the results of the first test, then by all means, test again.
Q: Is there more than one kind of pregnancy test?
A: Pregnancy tests fall into two general categories: urine-based and blood-based. Over the counter home pregnancy tests are urine-based and are considered to be generally reliable. Doctors will sometimes use a urine-based test. But they are more likely to conduct a blood test. That is because it provides them with more detailed information (10) that can be used to determine whether the pregnancy is progressing normally.
Q: Will medications interfere with a pregnancy test?
A: In most cases, antibiotics, NSAIDs, birth control pills, and other medications will not interfere with the results of a pregnancy test. Nor should alcohol consumption, marijuana use, or smoking. (Although, if one is trying to become pregnant, all of those activities should be avoided.) However, there are some fertility treatments that use HCG (11) and which may produce a false positive on a pregnancy test.
Q: Are early pregnancy tests worth it?
A: Early pregnancy tests claim to be able to detect a pregnancy four or five days before the onset of what would, in theory, be your first missed pregnancy after conception. There is a lot of debate over the effectiveness of such tests. There are also conflicting opinions about the wisdom of using them because they may detect a chemical pregnancy that does not wind up taking hold. So, whether they are worth it or not, only you can decide.
Q: How accurate are pregnancy tests?
A: When used as directed, most of the best pregnancy tests are up to 99% accurate. The key, however, is to ‘use as directed’. Because not following directions can significantly reduce the accuracy of test results. Either that, or you may experience repeated ‘invalid’ tests. So make sure to follow the directions to the letter and use the first urine after you wake up. Also, avoid using expired tests. And avoid testing too early.
Q: What are the odds of getting a false negative?
A: There is a small but real chance that you may get a false negative result from a pregnancy test. The more days prior to the start of your period that you conduct the test, the greater the odds of getting a false negative. So if you test five days before your period is due to start, you have about a 25% chance of getting a false negative. That number goes down the closer you get to the expected start of your period.
Q: What should I do if I get conflicting results?
A: Any time you are unsure how to interpret the results of a pregnancy test, the best thing to do is try again. If you have received mixed or unclear results using one type of test, try another. Not every test works equally well for all women.
Q: How is it possible to get a false positive?
A: The false positive is almost always a result of pregnancy that started but did not take hold. It is possible for sperm to implant an egg, for the effects of that combination to briefly produce HCG, and then for that potential pregnancy to fail to achieve viability. That scenario is actually more common than most people think (12). Because of that, it is not advised to test too early, lest you put yourself through an emotional roller coaster for no reason.
Q: What is a chemical pregnancy?
A: That false positive we just discussed is the result of a chemical pregnancy (13). This occurs where the prerequisites for pregnancy have been set in motion, but do not gain sufficient momentum to result in a viable pregnancy. A chemical pregnancy can briefly produce HCG, which can be detected by a pregnancy test. For this reason, you should wait to test yourself until your period is due to begin. That will lower the odds of detecting a chemical pregnancy.
Q: Can drinking too much water affect a pregnancy test?
A: Yes, drinking too much water can affect the results of a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests work by detecting the levels of the hormone HCG in urine. If you are drinking a lot of water (or any other fluid for that matter), it may well dilute the amount of HCG in your urine. This could result in a false negative.
Q: Can a pregnancy test detect an ectopic pregnancy?
A: A home pregnancy test cannot detect ectopic pregnancy (14). For that, you will need to see your doctor and undergo more extensive testing. There are some symptoms of ectopic pregnancy you can look for, however. These include abdominal pain on one side of the abdomen, unusual vaginal bleeding, feeling faint, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you have these symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.
Q: Which brand of pregnancy test is most accurate?
A: It cannot be said with any certainty that one brand is always more accurate than all the others. Most companies produce more than one type of pregnancy test. And it is possible that one product may be very accurate, while another product from the same brand is not. So try to think in terms of products, rather than brands. All of the products that rank for our list are among the most accurate, as of this writing.
Q: What is HCG?
A: When researching home pregnancy tests, you are going to see the letters HCG quite a bit. HCG stands for ‘human chorionic gonadotropin’ (15), which is a chemical byproduct of tissue found in embryos during the early stages of their development. These tissues will eventually become an integral part of the placenta. Therefore, if a pregnancy test detects the presence of HCG, it is considered a reliable indicator of pregnancy.
Q: What if my test changes to positive after an hour?
A: Pregnancy tests come with a very specific time frame attached. No other length of time other than what is indicated on the box will yield a valid result. In some cases, women are shocked when they leave a test strip sitting for an hour and discover it has changed from negative to positive. This is simply the result of chemical reactions taking place on the strip over time and can be ignored. That said, if you are worried, retake the test.
Q: Can a pregnancy test tell me the sex of my baby?
A: No. A pregnancy test cannot predict the sex of the baby. That said, there are blood tests available that can determine the sex of a baby with reasonable accuracy as little as seven weeks into a pregnancy. But you should be wary of any test that claims it can predict the sex of a fetus by testing urine. These tests are accurate less than 50% of the time (16). Meaning you have a better chance of being right by guessing.
Q: Why do I keep getting ‘invalid’ results?
A: The occasional invalid result is to be expected. But if you have received several invalid results, there is likely something wrong. Perhaps the test strips have expired. This can cause invalid results. If test strips are exposed to extreme heat or cold, it can undermine their integrity. So do not leave test strips sitting in direct sunlight. And do not store them in the freezer in an attempt to preserve them.
Q: I take birth control pills. How can I be pregnant?
A: Some women who take birth control pills are confused when a pregnancy test comes back positive. Unfortunately, birth control pills are not 100% effective in all cases. At best, they are 98% effective. Meaning there is still a 2% chance of getting pregnant. And, because women are human and do not always take them as directed, approximately 9 out of 100 women who take birth control pills wind up pregnant (17).
Q: Do you have to be 18 to buy a pregnancy test?
A: No. You do not have to be 18 to buy a pregnancy test. Nor do you need parental consent or a prescription. You can buy a pregnancy test online, at a drugstore and in many other types of stores.
Q: Am I better off going to the doctor to find out if I am pregnant?
A: That is entirely up to you. Some women are skeptical about the accuracy of home pregnancy tests, and that is certainly their right. If you would feel more comfortable going to the doctor and having a blood test, then, by all means, do so. Just make sure not to wait too long. The sooner you know, the sooner you can begin taking the steps necessary to ensure a healthy outcome.
A pregnancy test provides a fast, accurate indication of whether a woman is pregnant. They are considered safe and reliable, and most are quite affordable. You do not need to be 18 to purchase a pregnancy test. Nor do you need a doctor’s prescription.
If you have reason to believe you might be pregnant, you can put any doubts effectively to rest by picking up one of the pregnancy tests on the above list. In just a matter of minutes you will have the information you need to make informed decisions going forward about what is best for you.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended pregnancy test, click here.