Taking a home pregnancy test can be stressful for so many different reasons, and if the results are questionable, things can potentially be even more anxiety-inducing. Some women may find themselves feeling and experiencing the symptoms of pregnancy but the test result still comes out as negative, even after 5 weeks… but how could that be?
Marketing will often make the claim that at-home pregnancy tests are nearly infallible, possessing accuracy ratings of 99 percent. However, with a number of women coming out yearly with stories of false negatives, this figure may not be as accurate as these companies would like consumers to believe.
Like many people, this probably leaves you with plenty of questions. Can you really still be pregnant, even after getting a negative pregnancy test? Read further on and find out.
Table of Contents
- Is It A False Negative Pregnancy Test?
- Late Period
- Pregnancy Test False Negative (Hormones)
- Faulty Pregnancy Test
- False Negative Rare Causes
Is It A False Negative Pregnancy Test?
Say you’ve missed your period, and have some of the telltale signs of early pregnancy, but when you take the test, it still comes up negative. This can of course be confusing, especially if you have not gotten your period. Could it be a false negative?
But before jumping to any conclusions, keep in mind that there are various reasons why you may have a late period and still have a negative result, including a faulty test resulting in a false negative, or simply that your period is late. And yes, false negatives are generally a rare occurrence if the test is done properly, although that does not mean you should write it off as a possibility.
Some more common reasons for your negative test result may be:
- Your period is late for a reason other than pregnancy (and you are not pregnant)
- You are pregnant, but there are not enough hormones present for a positive result
- You are pregnant, and the test was faulty
- You are pregnant, but with possible issues
It is rare and thus unlikely for a serious issue to be the cause for the negative result, so it is unlikely you have any health concerns to worry about. But we still understand that the situation can be stressful and emotional regardless. That is why it’s best to try to remain calm before you assume the worst.
One of the simplest and most common explanations for a negative result is that your period is late for a reason other than pregnancy. Several things can delay your period, even up to 5 weeks! This can include causes stemming from lifestyle decisions, all the way to chronic conditions beyond your control.
Some commonplace reasons why your period may be late include:
- High stress
- Recent weight change
- PCOS (imbalance of reproductive hormones)
- Hormonal birth control
- Early menopause
- Thyroid condition
Before assuming that you are pregnant regardless of the negative result, you should definitely consider one of the options listed above, as they are more likely to be the cause for your negative test/late period.
Pregnancy Test False Negative (Hormones)
Nowadays, most women tend to use at-home pregnancy tests as they are affordable, accessible, and able to be used privately from the comfort of home. At-home pregnancy tests work to identify whether the user is pregnant or not by detecting a hormone present in pregnant women called human gonadotropin (hCG) through a urine sample.
Some pregnancy tests display the resulting information differently, but most are read through the appearance of color-changing lines which appear on the strip when the hormone is detected. A positive reading is determined by the presence of two lines, the first to show the device is working properly and the second marking the presence of the hormone.
A false negative may be triggered through a degraded form of hCG binding to the “sensor” on the pregnancy test. As the pregnancy advances, some of the hCG will degrade, producing a fragment of the hormone still able to bind to the test, but without being identified as hCG, thus creating a false negative.
This occurrence is supposedly rare, but not impossible to run into. That means in this circumstance it is possible to still be pregnant after the negative test. If you suspect this may be the case, taking additional tests or making a trip to the doctor could be the best ways to test your suspicion.
Faulty Pregnancy Test
It is also possible that the test is simply broken. This is highly unlikely to be the case but is also not impossible. If the test is faulty, the resulting readout could either be a false negative, or positive reading, understandably resulting in confusion.
This reason should not be the first thing you assume, and other reasons tend to be more commonly reported but in rare cases tests have been shown to be functioning improperly. Again, the recommended advice is the same as for other situations, buy a new test or go to a doctor to attempt to confirm that the test was faulty.
False Negative Rare Causes
In rare instances, a false negative may occur as the result of a more serious underlying cause. One cause for this could be an ectopic pregnancy. This is a rare condition where the embryo incorrectly begins growth outside of the uterus, typically in the fallopian tubes.
Unfortunately, ectopic pregnancies are not viable to bring into full term and can be very dangerous if left untreated. Because the placenta undergoes delayed development in an ectopic pregnancy, the production of hCG is delayed, owing to the negative test.
While this type of complication is rare, the results can potentially be fatal. If you are experiencing severe abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, or pelvic pain, we advise seeing a doctor to make sure everything is okay.
Going through pregnancy, and the process of determining whether you are in fact pregnant can be a stressful, and often emotional process. But before you assume something is wrong, keep in mind that there are plenty of logical explanations.
More often than not, women find that their period is just late and that there is no cause for concern. In other cases where they do happen to be pregnant, the test was most likely either taken at the incorrect time or happened to be faulty. Regardless, if you have concerns it is always best to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.