Questions for Julie: The test was negative, but could I be pregnant?

julie_thumbnailWhether you’re hoping to get pregnant or prefer not to be, missing a period brings a lot of anxiety. Can you rely on your drugstore pregnancy test to give you an answer? That’s a question I get a lot, and one I answered for a reader just this week. Take a look.

Dear Julie,
My period is three days late. I took a pregnancy test, and it said “not pregnant.” Can I still be pregnant?

Dear M,

Thank you for contacting me! Pregnancy tests that you get from the drugstore are usually accurate They measure the hormone in your urine that indicates pregnancy and while some pregnancy tests are more accurate than others, all do a pretty good job. Clear Blue Easy and First Response Early result are two brands that are more sensitive. That being said, there still is a slight chance that you are pregnant even if the test says you’re not. The pregnancy hormone that those tests detect can be slow to build. A false negative is much more common than a false positive for this very reason. So if your period doesn’t show up in a few more days, I recommend you re-test. Try doing it first thing in the morning, which gives you the most accurate result. (Your urine is more concentrated then.)

Other factors that might give a false negative are not reading the test in time or not getting enough urine on the test stick. Either of these can influence the way the test functions. So the short answer is yes, you could be pregnant but probably are not. Patience and a retest are the only way to know.

It’s also possible that you are just skipping a cycle. It can be alarming (or provide false hope), but it happens. So my rule of thumb is that if you miss a second period, it’s time to visit your healthcare provider. If you have ever had an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus) you need to contact your healthcare provider as soon as you miss a period. It is important to confirm a pregnancy sooner rather than later in this situation.

In the meantime, if you want peace of mind, you should know that we offer free pregnancy tests. You can come to St.Vincent Women’s hospital for a urine test. You don’t need an appointment; just pop in to the Center for Women’s Health within the hospital at 8111 Township Line Road. We’re here from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. You ca also visit St.Vincent Women’s Hospital OB/GYN service in BrownsburgWestfield and Fishers for free pregnancy testing as well.

Take care,

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