Reasons For an Unexpected Negative Pregnancy Test

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negative pregnancy test might bring around a lot of questions, particularly if you were pretty confident that you were pregnant. Though for many women, the biggest question is whether or not they can 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.

That does not necessarily mean that you aren't pregnant, just that there is not enough hCG found by the test. There are a couple of reasons for this finding:

You Aren’t Pregnant

The obvious answer is that the pregnancy 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 with a new pregnancy test  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 in Your Pregnancy

There are many early pregnancy tests that claim to be accurate for the vast majority of women up to five days before they miss their period. But those tests don't work for everyone.

Testing in this early window can show up as a negative, when you are actually pregnant, simply because the test isn't finding enough hCG to be positive. You should consider waiting until your period is late and retest.

Every woman ovulates on her 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, so the longer you wait, the more likely you'll get an accurate result.

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. A chemical pregnancy is another term for this phenomena.

The Test Was Inaccurate

Common mistakes with pregnancy tests involve taking it too early or reading the test after the test timing window. This can vary from test to test, so be sure to read the instructions on the box. There is also the possibility that the test has expired or is defective. You may also want to call the company to ask about an issue with lot numbers of pregnancy tests.

The Bottom Line

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 to see why you are not showing up pregnant and why your period is delayed.

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 women are understandably impatient 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 thirty-five, you should wait at least a year of timed, unprotected sex before seeking medical care from a fertility specialist. If you have special healthcare needs or issues, or if you are over thirty-five, you may only want to wait six months.

Sometimes it may take a bit longer to get pregnant if you have certain medical conditions. Your doctor or midwife can help you figure out how to best proceed in your quest to get pregnant.

Whatever the results of your home pregnancy test, you can get confirmation from your healthcare provider if you're still not sure the test was accurate. 


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Nerenz RD, Butch AW, Woldemariam GA, Yarbrough ML, Grenache DG, Gronowski AM. Clin Biochem. 2015 Nov 2. pii: S0009-9120(15)00507-X. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2015.10.020. [Epub ahead of print] Estimating the hCGβcf in urine during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Tests. Any Lab Test Now. 

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