The at-home pregnancy tests I have used cost between $ 0.45 and $8 each. These tests measure the hormone hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) in urine. Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are accurate (regardless of the price).
More expensive tests are more sensitive and can detect lower hCG levels. Cheaper tests usually have fewer features, can be harder to read, or less sensitive.
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How Much Are Pregnancy Tests?
Pregnancy tests will range from free to $15 each, depending on where you buy them. Let’s look at the general price ranges:
- Doctor’s Office, Women and Infant Center (WIC Clinic), Planned Parenthood: Free
- Dollar Stores (Like Dollar Tree): $1.25
- Amazon: From 45 cents.
- Target and Walmart: $5-$15
- Grocery Stores (Most Expensive Option): $8-$20
You can get free pregnancy tests from your healthcare provider, pregnancy centers, health centers, and fertility centers.
Are Cheap Pregnancy Tests Reliable?
Home-use pregnancy tests are 99% reliable when used on the day of your missed period or later.
The FDA regulates urine pregnancy tests sold in the United States, no matter their cost. It would be logical that a more expensive test is more accurate, but that is not the case.
To get the most accurate results, you should:
- Use before the expiration date: Expired tests may be unreliable.
- Use on or after your missed period: The levels of HCG in your body may be too low to detect before then.
- Dip Your Test: Don’t pee on it. Your urine stream is hard to predict and control. Collect a urine sample in a small cup or bowl and dip your test in it.
- Use Your First Morning Urine (FMU): The best time to test is with the first pee of the day. It will be the most concentrated and have the highest amount of HCG.
Why Are Some Tests More Expensive Than Others?
Some pregnancy tests are more expensive than others because of:
- The type of display
- The sensitivity of the test
- Where you buy the test
Digital Pregnancy Tests
Digital pregnancy tests are popular because they clearly display “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” You don’t have to worry about trying to read what the different lines mean.
Digital display pregnancy tests are the most expensive but are a good idea if you are uncomfortable interpreting your results.
Your body starts producing hCG as soon as you become pregnant. That’s why a blood test (done by your health care provider) can determine if you’re pregnant sooner than urine tests.. The hCG in your urine strengthens the further you are in your pregnancy.
Before your missed period, your hCG is likely too low to be detected on most home tests, which have a 40 mIU/ml sensitivity.
If you’re super excited to test (like me!), you can find more sensitive tests that can be used sooner than your missed period. These are the early pregnancy tests that I used to detect pregnancy at 8 and 9 DPO (days past ovulation)..
- Pregmate: 25 mIU/ml
- First Response: 6.3 mIU/ML
A false-positive result on an at-home test is uncommon because hCG is only found in the body when you are pregnant. So, you must be pregnant for an at-home test to detect hCG.
Here are some uncommon reasons why you might get a false positive pregnancy test:
- A chemical pregnancy: An early miscarriage that occurs in the first few days of pregnancy. You may test positive but then still get your period. A blood test can confirm.
- Testing after a miscarriage: If you recently had a miscarriage, you will still have hCG in your body. hCG can take several days to several months to return to zero after pregnancy, making it difficult to know if your pregnancy test is picking up a new pregnancy or detecting the hCG from a prior one.
- Evaporation Lines and Faulty Tests: If you read your pregnancy test after the recommended time, you might see a faint line called an evaporation line. Tests with blue ink (like Clearblue) are more prone to bleeding and are difficult to read.
- Ectopic Pregnancy: A medical emergency where the egg implants outside of your uterus (like in the fallopian tubes).
A false negative result on an at-home pregnancy test is common.
Usually, this is because you are testing too soon after implantation, and there isn’t enough pregnancy hormone in your body to be detected. Even early-result pregnancy tests aren’t 99% accurate until the first day of your missed period because there’s not enough hCG.
This is why I really like inexpensive pregnancy tests like Pregmate because you can test as often as you want without feeling like you’re throwing money down the drain using an expensive pregnancy test.
With my first, I tested positive at 8 DPO. With my second, I tested positive at 9 DPO. With both pregnancies, I used a pregnancy test strip from Pregmate and then confirmed the result with First Response Early Results (FRER).
I also continue to test after I get my positive result to watch the test line get darker (indicating more hcg and a developing pregnancy) for peace of mind.
My Pregnancy Test Recommendations
If you’re a mama who’s TTC, I recommend buying the Pregmate early pregnancy tests and ovulation strip combination. These are the best pregnancy tests for their value, accuracy, and sensitivity.
You can track your ovulation and pregnancy test strips with the free Premom app (it will read your test strips, so you don’t have to!). Have a First Response test or two in your closet. Once you get a positive on your test strip, confirm the presence of HCG with a First Response Rapid Results or digital pregnancy test.