How to read a pregnancy test

Morning Or Evening Urine?

It’s often said for best results you should take a pregnancy test with your first-morning urine, but does it really matter? The answer is yes, sort of.

Taking a pregnancy test first thing in the morning is often recommended because that is the time when your urine is the most concentrated. The more concentrated your urine is, the higher the concentration of hCG (source).

If evening rolls around and you just can’t wait to test, we understand. But there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Hold your urine for at least 4 hours before testing: By holding your urine for at least four hours, you will give your body enough time to build up the concentration of hCG. The longer you hold your urine, the more concentrated the hormone will be.
  • Hold off on the fluids: Remember, you want your urine to be as concentrated as possible. The more fluids you put in your body, the less concentrated your urine will be.
  • If your test is positive, it’s more than likely correct: If you test at night and get a positive when your urine is less concentrated, you more than likely are pregnant. If you test again in the morning, chances are your positive results will be even darker.
  • If your test is negative, don’t lose hope: Negative test results might just be a result of your hCG levels not being concentrated enough. Test again in the morning, and you may get the results you were hoping for.

What To Do Next

If you saw a faint test on your pregnancy test, here is what you should do.

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1. Wait A Few Days And Test Again

Because some pregnancy tests require higher hCG levels than others, it might not be picking up enough of the hormone to cause a dark line just yet (source). If in a few days you are still seeing a faint line it might be a good idea to call your doctor.

There they can do a blood test to determine if your hCG levels show you are pregnant, as well as see if they are going up like they should be (source). In the meantime, start taking a prenatal vitamin, just in case you truly are pregnant because it can help prevent birth defects.

2. Ask Your Doctor For An Ultrasound

If you test again and are still getting a faint line, it might be a good idea to ask your doctor for an ultrasound. This is important especially if you are experiencing sharp pains in your abdomen or pelvis.

These could be signs you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants inside the fallopian tube instead of your uterus (source).

It’s important to detect an ectopic pregnancy early because if the embryo is not removed, the fallopian tube can rupture. This can affect a mother’s fertility, cause severe internal bleeding, and in severe cases even result in death (source).

Ideally, the doctor will do both an ultrasound examination and a serial hCG test, which involves two quantitative hCG tests on the blood performed 2 days or so apart to see if the appropriate rise in hCG is occurring.

Headshot of Christine Traxler, Medical Doctor

Editor's Note:

Christine Traxler, MD, OB/GYN

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What Pregnancy Tests Give the Best Early Results?

As we discussed before, all pregnancy tests are not made alike. Tests vary in price, sensitivity, and how they give you your answer. If you’re wanting to test before your period is due, it is best to choose a test that can detect hCG at a low level.

Below is a comparison chart to help you choose the test that is right for you:

Test Name: Lowest hCG Levels Detected:
AimStrip 20 mIU
Accuclear Pregnancy Test 25 mIU
Answer Early Result Pregnancy Test 25 mIU
Clear Choice 25 mIU
Clearblue Easy Digital 25 mIU
Clearblue Easy Plus +/- 25 mIU
Confirm 1-Step 25 mIU
CVS Digital 25 mIU
CVS Early Result Pregnancy Test 25mIU
Dollar Store Brand 25 mIU
e.p.t. +/- Test 25 mIU
e.p.t. Digital Test 25 mIU
Early Detect 25 mIU
Equate 25 mIU
Fact Plus + / – 25 mIU
First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test 25 mIU
First Response Early Results 25 mIU
One Step Be Sure Pregnancy Test 25 mIU
Rite Aid Pregnancy Test 25 mIU
Up & Up Pregnancy Test 25 mIU
Walgreen Digital 25 mIU
Walgreen Midstream Pregnancy Test 25 mIU
Wondfo Pregnancy Test Strip 25 mIU
e.p.t. Certainty Digital Test 40 mIU
Fact Plus Cassette 40 mIU
Fact Plus Pregnancy Test 40 mIU
CVS “Early Result” Cassette Pregnancy Test 50 mIU
CVS One-Step 50 mIU
Drug Emporium Brand Pregnancy Test 50 mIU
early Pregnancy test 50 mIU
Eckerd One Step 50 mIU
Walgreens Cassette Pregnancy Test 50 mIU

(Source and source)

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