Pregnancy scares are the opposite of fun. In fact, they are the stuff of nightmares. Actual nightmares. Like, I'll probably have an unwanted pregnancy dream tonight. Simply researching this topic has propagated a personal anxiety spiral (and there is zero possibility that I am preg right now unless I'm the Virgin Mary part two). Worrying about whether or not a tiny person is growing inside you for any time period longer than one minute is NO GOOD. Get me the most accurate early pregnancy test, so I can pee on it immediately, please and thank you!
Upon researching this very scary topic, I realized that I have no idea how pregnancy tests actually work. Why does my pee indicate that a little sperm found its way to my egg before sore boobs or sudden urges to vomit? And how does a thin little stick know so much about my future and whether I need to reevaluate my entire existence or not? Well, it's actually pretty simple.
A hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is only produced in a woman's body when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your uterus. That moment is exactly when pregnancy begins, so if your pee contains HCG, you're pregnant. If it doesn't, you're not. (Cheers! Have a bev!)
Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are 99% effective, but they are most accurate after your missed period. There are some tests on the market that can let you know if you are pregnant before you miss a period. However, according to Planned Parenthood, "these results aren’t super reliable, and you may get a false positive or false negative test result." Woof. I did some research in order to find out which OTC pregnancy tests out there are the most accurate and most sensitive (able to detect pregnancy early).
1. First Response Early Result
This is the best-selling pregnancy test on Amazon. But don't worry, friends, I also consulted science. According to a 2011 study, First Response manual and digital tests both detected 97 percent of 120 pregnancies on the day of a missed period. The only con: this test required you to read the "strips" rather than providing a clear "yes" or "no" to the reader. (Human error is real!)
2. Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test
According to that same 2011 study, Clearblue was the second most-effective brand of pregnancy test, with the digital version clocking in at 54 percent effective and the manual version at 64 percent. Also, this digital test is great because it it the only product on the market that has a "countdown clock." Yes, it sounds dramatic, but you'll be paying careful attention to the clock anyways, so why not have it right in front of your face? This test is also digital, and your results are listed as "pregnant" or "not pregnant" so that you can be sure you've read them correctly.
I was tempted to add more tests to the list, but I found a lot of conflicting and dated information online when it came to some of the other brands online. First Response came out on top in studies from CBS even in 2003. The Clearblue Digital's easy user experience makes it another great choice, even though it's not as accurate as First Response.
There are a few important things to understand when it comes to taking a pregnancy test: Every woman's body is different. Google any pregnancy test and you'll find conflicting reviews. It's important to follow the instructions on the test, and to make sure you retake the test again after your missed period if you plan on taking it early. Also, on that note, taking the test after your missed period will give you the most accurate results. If you can, wait it out.
Finally: No matter what your results, there are resources out there to help you determine what you'd like to do if you have an unwanted pregnancy. Check out Planned Parenthood to start, and talk to a trusted doctor, friend, or family member.
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