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What to Do When Your Pregnancy Test Gives You an Unexpected Answer


Updated May 16, 2014

The Unexpected Negative Pregnancy Test
Negative and Positive Pregnancy Tests
Photo © Taras Livyy - Fotolia.com
A negative pregnancy test might bring around a lot of questions. Though for many women the biggest question is can they trust a negative pregnancy test. In the sense that the pregnancy test is looking for the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), yes, you can be sure it did not find enough to register you as pregnant. There are a couple of reasons for this finding:

  • You aren’t pregnant.
    The obvious answer is that the test showed negative because you are in fact, not pregnant. If you have been trying to get pregnant and you were testing because of pregnancy symptoms, you may want to consider retesting in several days if your period is still delayed. If you still have a negative test, it may be time to see your doctor or midwife for further evaluation. There are many reasons why your period might be delayed, and pregnancy is only one of those reasons.

  • You tested too early.
    Let’s face it, it’s pretty easy to test too early. There is a ton of advertisements for early pregnancy test that claim to be accurate for the vast majority of women up to five days before they miss their period. That said, it doesn’t work for everyone. So testing in this early window can show up as a negative, when you are actually pregnant. You should consider waiting until your period is late and retest.

    If you have already missed your period and have an unexpected negative pregnancy test, you may wonder what’s up. It can still be too early. Everyone ovulates on their own schedule, and not according to a calendar. You may fall into this category, and you may very well test positive in a couple of days. hCG actually nearly doubles every two days in early pregnancy.

  • You had an early miscarriage or chemical pregnancy.
    Sadly, it is possible, that you had a very early miscarriage, and that’s why the test did not find any hCG in your urine. This is fairly common and it is usually is what your practitioner will suspect if you have had a positive test one morning and a negative a few days later. Chemical pregnancy is another term for this phenomena.

  • The test was inaccurate.
    While it is nearly impossible to take the pregnancy test in an erroneous fashion, there are some things that can mess it up. With a negative, you are not going to be concerned with medications in your system, that would be more likely to be a false positive. Common mistakes with pregnancy tests involve taking it too early or reading the test after the test timing window. (This may vary from test to test, be sure to read the instructions on the box.) There is also the possibility that the test has expired or is defective. Check the box for an expiration date. You may also want to call the company to ask about issue with lot numbers of pregnancy tests.

There are a lot of emotions that one might have with a negative pregnancy test. There may be some relief or there may be sadness. These could both be normal depending on what you were looking for in an answer.

If you were hoping for a positive pregnancy test but found the answer to be negative, take a deep breath and relax. Your first step should be to retest. If you still get a negative, you should talk to your practitioner. If you get a positive, start setting up your prenatal care.

If you are trying to get pregnant and have not yet gotten pregnant, try not to panic. There is a time and a place for intervention, but many moms also experience impatience when trying to get pregnant. It can take several cycles to get pregnant for a variety of reasons. In general, if you are healthy and under 35, you should wait at least a year of timed, unprotected sex before seeking medical care from a fertility specialist. If you have special needs or are over 35, you may only want to wait 6 months. This is a great question to ask your practitioner at your next annual exam, if not for a preconceptional health visit.

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  6. Unexpected Negative Pregnancy Test

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