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Home Pregnancy Test HCG Levels & FAQ

Home pregnancy tests are listed in a table below in order of most sensitive to least sensitive. The levels are based on phone calls to the manufacturers. Below that there are several frequently asked questions.

The majority of the tests listed are available in the United States unless otherwise noted after the test name. Two of the tests that are available in the U.S. and in the U.K. are registered for different levels in the different countries (Clearblue Easy and First Response).

20 mIU/ml hCG tests can be purchased online at Fairhaven Health. Pricing ranges from $.92/test to $.50/test based on the number of tests you purchase, and shipping is free for orders of $15 or more.

15-25 mIU
Fairhaven Health 20 mIU Fairhaven Health Fairhaven Health
AccuHome* 25 mIU Germaine Laboratories
4203 Gardendale Center, Suite 230
San Antonio TX 78229
AimStep 20 mIU Germaine Laboratories
4203 Gardendale Center, Suite 230
San Antonio TX 78229
Aim Midstream OTC 20 mIU Germaine Laboratories
4203 Gardendale Center, Suite 230
San Antonio TX 78229
AimStick PBD 20 mIU Germaine Laboratories
4203 Gardendale Center, Suite 230
San Antonio TX 78229
AimStick OTC / AccuDip 20 mIU Germaine Laboratories
4203 Gardendale Center, Suite 230
San Antonio TX 78229
Answer Quick & Simple 25 mIU 1-800-833-9532 Church & Dwight
Princeton NJ 08543
Baby Test (Dollar Store) 20 mIU 1-800-351-0177 Sales Enterprises
12361 Wilkings Ave.
Rockville MD 20852
Clearblue Easy (U.K.) 25 mIU 0870 5673514 Unipath Ltd., Priory Business Park, Stanard Way
Cardington, Bedford, Bedfordshire MK44 3UP
Clearblue Easy +/- 25 mIU 1-800-321-EASY Unipath Diagnostics, Inc.
Priceton, NJ 08542
Clearview 25 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Confirm 1-Step 25 mIU 1-770-582-2222
1-334-792-3775
Dist. by Durex Consumer Products, Inc.
London International Group, Inc.
3858 Engineering Drive NW
Norcross GA 30092
Crystal Clear (Australia) 25 mIU 03-9844-4695 Advanced Clinical Systems
PO Box 42, Warradyte Vic 3113
CVS (cartridge) 25 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
CVS (stick test) 25 mIU 1-800-433-4634, TCPI, Inc., 3333 S.W. 15th Street
Pompano Beach FL 33069
Day Seven (CDN) 25 mIU 1-800-667-1197 PHMX, Pharmaceutical & Diagnostics Ltd.
Vancouver, BC
dBest One Step 20 mIU 206-527-5086, AmeriTek, Inc.
Seattle WA
e.p.t. +/- 25 mIU 1-800-378-1783 Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
Morris Plains NJ 07950
Equate +/- (Wal*Mart) 25 mIU 1-877-227-3543 LifeCare Medical International Corp.
Philadelphia PA 19044
Equate (Wal*Mart) 25 mIU 1-877-227-3543 LifeCare Medical International Corp.
Philadelphia PA 19044
Fact Plus Select
(blue lines)
25 mIU 1-800-986-8598 Ross/Abbott Laboratories
Columbus OH 43215
Fact Plus Pro
(blue lines)
25 mIU 1-800-986-8598 Ross/Abbott Laboratories
Columbus OH 43215
Fastest (U.K.) 25 mIU Home Health UK Ltd, Unit 11,
Peerglow Industrial Estate, Olds Approach
Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 9SR
First Response Early Result 15-25 or
6.3 mIU
see
1-800-367-6022 Church & Dwight
Princeton NJ 08543
First Sign One Step Midstream (U.K.) 25 mIU Home Health UK Ltd, Unit 11,
Peerglow Industrial Estate, Olds Approach
Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 9SR
hCG One Step 25 mIU ACON Laboratories
4108 Sorrento Valley Boulevard
San Diego CA 92121
hCG One Step Ultra 10 mIU ACON Laboratories ACON Laboratories
4108 Sorrento Valley Boulevard
San Diego CA 92121
Insta Test hCG 25 mIU 1-818-591-3194 Cortez Diagnostics, Inc.
23961 Craftsman Road, Suite D
Calabasas CA 91302
Inverness +/-
(various brands)
25 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Life (CDN) 25 mIU 1-800-SHOPPERS Shopper’s Drug Mart
Canada
Lifesign One-Step 25 mIU 1-877-227-3543 LifeCare Medical International Corp.
Philadelphia PA 19044
LifeSign 1 Midstream 15 mIU 1-888-357-9399
1-858-792-1100
2921 Sandy Pointe No. #3
Del Mar CA 92014
Luna 25 mIU 1-888-818-5862
1-858-792-1100
PO Box 18028, Vancouver
British Columbia, Canada V6M 4L3
Micro Pregnancy Tests 20 mIU
New Choice (Dollar Tree) 20 mIU 1-800-351-0177 Sales Enterprises
12361 Wilkings Ave.
Rockville MD 20852
On Call (U.K.) 25 mIU ACON Laboratories ACON Laboratories
4108 Sorrento Valley Boulevard
San Diego CA 92121
One Step Be Sure 25 mIU 1-800-854-6226 Syntron Bioresearch, Inc.
Carlsbad CA 92008
One Step hCG
Save On Tests
20 mIU 1-604-684-9372 SaveOnTests.com
19-936 Lytton Street
North Vancouver, BC
V7H 2A5, Canada vbbv
Pregnosis (AU) 25 mIU 1-612-9736-3811
Key Pharmaceuticals
Key Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd
9-11 Leeds Street
Rhodes, NSW 2138 Australia
Puralin One Step 25 mIU 1-800-879-2393 Apothecus Pharmaceutical Corp.
Oyster Bay NY 11771
Rapid Self-Test (U.K.) 25 mIU 01204 362236 ARC Pharmacare (2006) Ltd.
PO BOX 2146
Lynstock House, Lynstock Way,
Lostock, Bolton, UK BL6 9AY
Reveal Dipstick (U.K.) 25 mIU BR Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Coal Hill Lane, Farsley,
Leeds LS28 5NA U.K.
Rite-Aid +/- 25 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Signify hCG 20 mIU Abbott Laboratories
200 Abbott Park Road,
Abbott Park IL 60064
Simplicity No Step 20 mIU Arben Bioscience, LLC
250 Mill Street, Suite 400
Rochester NY 14614
Smart Strip hCG 20 mIU &nbsp &nbsp
Target +/- 25 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Tests For Less 20 mIU 1-479-522-4786 Calhoun Industries, Inc.
9001 Rogers Ave., Suite E
& 10101 Meandering Way
Fort Smith AR 72903
Walgreens +/- 25 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Web Womb Midstream One-Step 10-15 mIU
40-50 mIU
Accu-Clear 50 mIU Accu-Clear Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Boots (U.K.) 50 mIU
Clearblue Easy Digital (U.S.) 50 mIU 1-800-883-EASY (3279) Unipath
ClearPlan Easy* 50 mIU 1-800-883-EASY (3279) Unipath
Dollar General Store 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Drug Emporium One Step 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Early Bird One Step (U.K.) 50 mIU 01223 638614 Kent Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Wotton Road, Ashford, Kent TN23 6LL
early Pregnancy test 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Eckerd Digital 50 mIU 1-800-883-EASY (3279) Unipath
Eckerd One Step 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Eckerd Drug Company
Clearwater FL 33758
e.p.t. 1Step* 40 mIU 1-800-EPT-1STEP
1-800-378-1783
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
Morris Plains NJ 07950
e.p.t. Certainty digital 50 mIU 1-800-378-1783 Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
Morris Plains NJ 07950
Fact Plus Select (pink lines)* 40 mIU 1-800-986-8598 Ross/Abbott Laboratories
Columbus OH 43215
Fact Plus Pro (pink lines)* 40 mIU 1-800-986-8598 Ross/Abbott Laboratories
Columbus OH 43215
Family Dollar 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
First Response (U.K.) 40 mIU 01303 221686 Feminine Care Research Lab
Carter-Wallace Ltd.
Wear Bay Road, Folkestone
Kent CT19 6PG
Hannaford 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Inverness with | | result (various brands) 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
One Step Pregnancy Test 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Predictor (U.K.) 50 mIU 01480 421817
Reveal Midstream (U.K.) 50 mIU BR Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Coal Hill Lane, Farsley,
Leeds LS28 5NA U.K.
Rite-Aid 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Selfcare 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Target 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154
Walgreens 50 mIU 1-800-899-SELF (7353)
1-617-647-3900
Inverness Medical, Inc.
200 Prospect St., Waltham MA 02154

Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy Tests

Q: What is hCG?

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A: hCG is human chorionic gonadotropin. It is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy. Home pregnancy tests (HPTs) are designed to detect it.

Q: Why does the hCG level of the test matter?

A: Basically the pregnancy tests that detect the lowest number of units should be more sensitive and give you the earliest results. This isn’t always the case in practical use, though.

Q: How do home pregnancy tests work?

A: Home pregnancy tests (HPTs) are designed to detect hCG, a hormone released by the placenta right after the embryo begins implanting into the uterine lining. The hormone is released in a pregnant woman’s urine.

Q: How accurate are home pregnancy tests on the first day of a missed period?

A: An October 2001 JAMA article (JAMA. 2001;286:1759-1761) said the highest possible screening sensitivity for an hCG-based pregnancy test conducted on the first day of a missed period is 90 percent, as 10 percent of women may not have implanted yet. The authors estimate that the highest possible screening sensitivity of a home pregnancy test by one week after the first day of the missed period is 97 percent.

Q: How soon after ovulation can I test?

A: The earliest you can get a positive result on the most sensitive pregnancy tests is seven days after ovulation. Implantation needs to occur before hCG is produced, and that generally happens between 6-12 days post ovulation, usually by 10 days after. For this reason, it makes economical sense to wait until 10-12 days after ovulation, but even then a significant percentage of women who are indeed pregnant will still show a negative result. If you have not had an hCG injection (common in fertility treatment, brands include Profasi, Pregnyl and Novarel), you can believe the positive, but you might get a false negative. If your period is late, test again. Your hCG levels should double every 2-3 days and many people won’t have a positive HPT until the first day of a missed period or even a few days later.

Q: How accurate are the home pregnancy tests that say you can get a positive result 3, 4 or 5 days earlier than other tests, or 3-4 days before you have missed a period?

A: Because implantation usually happens 6-12 days after ovulation, it is always possible that early testing will be too soon. Clearblue Easy publishes on its website the following stats: “Clearblue Easy can be used as early at 4 days before you expect your period. That’s 5 days sooner than waiting until you miss your period to test. The amount of pregnancy hormone increases rapidly in early pregnancy. In clinical testing with early pregnancy samples, Clearblue Easy gave the following results. 53% of pregnant women get results 5 days sooner. 74% get results 4 days sooner. 84% get results 3 days sooner, 87% get results 2 days sooner.” With their digital test, they say 55% get a positive result 3 days before a woman’s period is due, 87% 2 days before, and 92% one day before. First Response and Answer say “Answer Quick & Simple” Early Result Pregnancy Test can detect the pregnancy hormone as early as 4 days before you expect your period. In clinical testing, Answer “detected the hormone levels in 69% of women 4 days before their expected period, in 83% of women 3 days before their expected period, in 93% of women 2 days before their expected period, and in 93% of women 1 day before their expected period.”

Q: How do I perform the test?

A: You should use midstream urine — meaning you should pee a little first and then either hold the test stick in your urine stream or use a collection cup. If you would like to collect urine in a cup even though you bought a stick test, you need to hold the absorbant tip of the stick in the cup of urine for 5-10 seconds (TCPI, Inc. says this is more accurate for their tests). Otherwise follow the directions with the test.

Q: How long do I need to hold my urine?

A: That depends how long after ovulation you are testing. If you are testing early, a four-hour wait is a good idea. The more hCG you have in your system, the less long you’ll need to hold before trying to test.

Q: How do I read the test result?

A: You should check the instructions that came with the HPT as there are some differences between the tests. Most of the tests have two windows — one that tells you the test has been performed correctly (control), and one that gives you the positive or negative result. In the result window, the tests usually give a line or a plus. For the line tests, any colored line, no matter how faint, in the result window during the alotted time is a positive result. (This is different from most of the ovulation tests where the result line needs to be as dark or darker than the control line.) Some of the tests give a plus or minus result. In those tests you expect one line, looking like a minus sign (-), in the result window for a negative, and two lines looking like a plus symbol (+) if you are pregnant. It is common for one line in the plus symbol to be lighter than the other — any plus sign, no matter how varied the line colors, should be considered a positive result. All HPTs should be read within the time mentioned in the instructions and then thrown out to avoid confusion over evaporation lines.

Example of line tests:

Negative result: Positive results:
HPT Negative Result HPT Line Positive Equal
HPT Positive Line 15%
HPT Positive 50% Line

Examples of plus/minus symbol test results:

 

Negative result: Positive results:
HPT Plus Negative Result HPT Plus Positive Equal
HPT Plus Light Vertical
HPT Plus Light Horizontal

Q: Can I use an HPT if I had an hCG injection (such as Profasi, Pregnyl or Novarel)?

A: You can, but you should wait 7-14 days after your last injection before the shot is out of your system. If you test too soon, you might get a false positive. Wait 14 days after a 10,000 IU injection, 10 days after a 5,000 IU injection, or 7 days after a 2,500 IU injection.

Q: Can fertility medications such as Clomid, Serophene, Gonal-F, Follistim, Humegon, Pergonal, Repronex or Fertinex cause false positive results on HPTs?

A: The only fertility medication that can cause a false positive on a home pregnancy test is one that includes hCG (see question above).

Q: Can progesterone supplements cause a false positive HPT?

A: No. Home pregnancy tests only check hCG levels, not progesterone. They are completely different hormones.

Q: What should my hCG level be?

A: An rounded-off average would be about 25 mIU at 10 dpo, 50 at 12 dpo, 100 at 14 dpo. Please consult AdvancedFertility.com for charts on hCG levels in early pregnancy.

Q: If I take a pregnancy test and it looks positive at first but then the line disappears, am I pregnant?

A. Usually vanishing positives are actually a negative result and you are not pregnant. Some tests will tell you to confirm a negative result at 3 minutes or 5 minutes. Double checking results with another test is recommended.

Q: What if I took a test and it was negative, but when I looked at it an hour or more later I saw a faint line?

A: You may be pregnant and just didn’t have a high enough level of hCG to trigger the test within the usual time frame; however, it also could be the way that test reacts over time, so you really need to test again either way in order to be sure of the result. Some brands indicate that an “evaporation line” will appear if the test is left to sit. Generally speaking, you should not rely on any positive result that does not show up within the time limit stated in the test instructions. All brands have the possibility of an evaporation line or chemical line.

Q: Which is more accurate, a urine test or a blood test?

A: A blood test is more accurate, but not necessarily more sensitive. A lot depends on the lab. A quantitative blood test, usually called a beta hCG test, measures the exact units of hCG in the blood. That means it will detect even the most minimal level. There is another type of blood test sometimes called a qualitative hCG. This is a test that simply gives a yes or no answer to whether you are pregnant. Just like urine tests, labs vary as to what is considered a positive pregnancy test. Common cutoffs for positive are 5, 10, and 25 units. A level under 5 is considered negative. A test that is only triggered at 25 units of hCG is not any more sensitive than several of the urine HPTs.

Q: Are urine tests at the doctor’s office any more sensitive than home tests?

A: They are usually equivalent to the first tier of the home pregnancy tests list above — reading an hCG level of 15-25 mIU as positive. In fact, they are often the same tests listed in the chart, only with less packaging.

Q: How accurate are home pregnancy tests on the first day of a missed period?

A: An October 2001 JAMA article (JAMA. 2001;286:1759-1761) said the highest possible screening sensitivity for an hCG-based pregnancy test conducted on the first day of a missed period is 90 percent, as 10 percent of women may not have implanted yet. The authors estimate that the highest possible screening sensitivity of a home pregnancy test by one week after the first day of the missed period is 97 percent.

Q: Can I tell if my hCG level is doubling by retesting with an HPT and looking for a darker line?

A: No. You may get a darker line as your pregnancy progresses, but the HPT is not accurate enough to give you a full picture. Only a quantitative beta hCG blood test can tell you this. Best to have the blood tests performed at the same lab since standards vary.

Q: What if my HCG levels aren’t doubling every two to three days from a quantitative blood test?

A: It doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong, but it warrants further exploration including an early ultrasound (6 weeks LMP, 4 weeks after ovulation). Slow-rising hCG can be related to impending miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. One important thing to remember is that on average hCG levels double approximately every two days from 4-6 weeks LMP, then doubles every 3 days when the level is 1600-6000, then the doubling slows to every 4 days or so. Levels peak a week or two before end of the first trimester (14 weeks LMP) before declining in the second trimester.

Q: If I am pregnant, how long will my doctor monitor hCG levels.

A: Many doctors will do two or three hCG levels to confirm doubling and stop there. Most others will stop after a fetal heartbeat is detected since hCG levels vary greatly and doubling begins slowing down. After a heartbeat is seen or heard, the chance of miscarriage drops to 16% before 6 weeks LMP, 5% from 7-9 weeks, 1-2% after 11 weeks.

Q: I had a positive HPT, but my period started. What happened?

A: The only way to know for sure is to get a quantitative hCG blood test run. If you were pregnant but are miscarrying early, you may still have some level of hCG on the first day of bleeding — but you need to go for the test as soon as possible. It is also possible that you got a false positive on the pregnancy test, in which case you should call the manufacturer with the lot number and try to get your money back.

Q: I have all the symptoms of pregnancy and got a faint positive on a home pregnancy tests. My qualitative (yes/no) hCG blood test came back negative. Am I pregnant or not?

A: It may be that the qualitative blood test is less sensitive than the home pregnancy test, so it would be a good idea to get a quantitative hCG (measures the actual hCG level). Also be sure you are reading the test within the time suggested in the instructions to ensure you are not seeing an evaporation line on your home test.

Q: Can you get a positive HPT with a lower level of hCG than the tests manufacturers say they detect?

A: Yes. Most of the tests can detect lower levels of hCG than what is listed in this FAQ, but the levels printed here are the ones quoted from the manufacturers.

Q: Can I be pregnant and not get a positive HPT?

A: Yes. Most women will register on HPTs by the time they are a few days late for a period, but not everyone will. If you suspect you are pregnant, you should see your doctor for a quantitative hCG test no matter what result you get from an HPT.

Q: If I have an ectopic pregnancy, will it register on a home pregnancy test?

A: In most cases an ectopic pregnancy will trigger a positive home test result. Ectopic pregnancies still produce hCG, though levels are often lower are double more slowly than in-utero pregnancies.

Q: My beta was 75 and I didn’t get a positive on my HPT that is listed as reading a level of 50 or less, did I get a faulty test?

A: Not necessarily. The tests should read down to the level listed, but they don’t always. It is possible the test was performed improperly, that urine was too diluted to give an accurate reading, or that test was not stored properly before use (tests that freeze, for example, are less likely to work).

Q: Can prescription or over the counter medication interfere with home pregnancy tests?

A: Medication will neither delay a positive result, nor cause a false positive, unless the medication contains hCG (Profasi, Pregnyl, Novarel). This includes pain relievers, antibiotics, etc.

Q: Do oral contraceptives/birth control pills interfere with home pregnancy test results?

A: No. One should get an accurate result on oral contraceptives. The hormones in the pill do not cause a false positive or a false negative result.

Q: Will recreational drugs or alcohol interfere with home pregnancy tests?

A: Drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, heroine, and alcoholic drinks will not alter the result of a home pregnancy test, but it is better to test when not under the influence.

Q: Can a urinary tract infection cause a false positive home pregnancy test?

A: No. Home pregnancy tests detect the hormone hCG, not byproducts of infection. Infections do not cause the hormones to be released. It is best to get the pregnancy confirmed by a doctor and have the UTI treated as soon as possible.

Q: Can stress cause a false positive result?

A: No.

Q: How soon after a miscarriage will an HPT be reliable?

A: It varies. Sometimes it takes awhile for hCG levels to go back to zero, so it is possible to get a positive HPT from a miscarriage for a month or more after a loss. If hCG levels were followed back to zero, then a positive HPT should indicate a new pregnancy.

Q: What is the normal level of hcg in a women who is not pregnant?

A: A normal non-pregnant hCG level is under 2; however, labs have different standards as to what they consider positive. Some lab norms say a level is negative under 5, under 10, or under 25.

Q: If your period stopped because of menopause will it give a false positive reading on test?

A: No. The hormone hCG is produced in pregnancy. While other hormones fluctuate as women approach menopause, hCG is not one of them.

Q: Which home pregnancy test is the best?

A: We not recommend any one test above the rest. For the most part, they are pretty equal. Consumer Reports does issue a ranking of tests.

Comments On Home Pregnancy Tests

Note: This section just has some general comments on different pregnancies tests. These comments are based on feedback, not on scientific data. In general, people are quick to report complaints, and less likely to send in positive comments. This information should be read with that in mind.

First Response Early Result is a test that claims you can test before your period is due. Calls to the company about the hCG level detected have been answered with “no comment” or “privileged” information. Now First Response web site says the test can read a level of 6.3. An e-mail to the FDA about the test received a reply of 25 mIU, but this is not in the customer-searchable database. When it came out, a couple of people e-mailed to say that the new test detects 15-20 mIU. So far we have had several people report false-positives, faulty tests, and several who have been pleased with early and very early detection . . . It is important to note that this test won’t work for everyone because implantation (6-12 dpo) needs to occur before one will get a positive result. The test scored highest on the Consumer Reports 2003 ranking of home tests.

The Equate brand switched manufacturers a few years ago. The older test had a significant online reputation for false positives, while the newer test, manufactured by LifeCare, appears as reliable as most other brands (most brands get some reports of false positives). The main comment the test still gets is to beware of evaporation lines and read the test, like all brands, within the time limit listed in the instructions.

Evaporation lines are reported with many brands, and should be considered normal for home pregnancy tests. This is why tests should be read within the time specified within the instructions. Most recently we have had reports about the Inverness Medical tests different brands, AimStick, and dBest. Clearblue/ClearPlan sometimes has a white line where the result should appear, or a gray line without colored dye — neither of which should be considered a positive result and require retesting.

Disappearing positives are probably negative results, but any confusing test result warrants retesting. Some brands suggest confirming a negative result at 3-5 minutes, so the initial wash of fluid through the test may make it look positive at first, but show negative when the test is complete.

Clearblue Digital, same as Eckerd Digital, has an official hCG level detected of 50 mIU, but some calls to the help line receive an answer of 25 mIU. Many brands can in fact detect a lower hCG level their published sensitivity.

Lifesign1 is available by mail order only from Geodesic Meditech — it is not the same as the one in stores such as Wal*Mart. According to Jeanne Olson, PA-C from Geodesic Meditech, in studies, this test could detect hCG levels of 5-20 mIU within 7 minutes. So, a positive within 7 minutes indicates that hCG was detected, but you should not read the test after 7 minutes. After 7 minutes that dye can break through and you may see an evaporation line. The test is now listed as reading down to 15 mIU.

Quidel, the manufacturers of Conceive, Precise and QTest are no longer selling over the counter pregnancy tests. They only supply medical professionals (the urine tests are accurate to 20 mIU and serum is accurate to 10 mIU).

Consumer Reports periodically ranks pregnancy tests mostly based on value to the consumer. We do not recommend any specific tests — the site puts out this often-copied FAQ for women who gathing information and capable of making their own decisions.