Three minutes can feel like an eternity when you’re waiting on the results of your pregnancy test. The second hand on your clock can almost feel like it’s going in reverse.
Then finding out the pregnancy test is positive can make the world feel like it’s spinning at 100 mph! But, if your pregnancy test reads positive, does that mean that you are actually pregnant? Could you get a false positive? What could cause a false positive? If it’s a false test will I need an abortion? Let’s find out what could cause a false reading:
Reason # 1: Chemical pregnancy
A chemical pregnancy occurs if a fertilized egg cannot implant or grow at the very beginning of a pregnancy. This can happen for a wide range of reasons, such as:
- Scar tissue
- A congenital uterine anomaly leading to an irregular-shaped uterus
- Low amounts of hormones
Reason # 2: Ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy is a fertilized egg that attaches to a fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Because of this, an ectopic pregnancy can’t continue. This is an unviable pregnancy because there’s no place for the embryo to grow or thrive. However, the embryo will still produce the hCG hormones causing a false-positive reading on a pregnancy test.
Ectopic pregnancies can be damaging to the woman if left untreated. Extreme blood loss or loss of the reproductive organs can occur. Therefore, treating this early is imperative.
Reason #3: Recent miscarriage or abortion
When a pregnancy ends, hCG levels don’t go away overnight. This hormone can remain in your blood and urine for up to four weeks following the end of the pregnancy. So, it’s possible to have a false-positive test until your hCG levels return to their pre-pregnancy state.
If you experienced a miscarriage, it’s also possible that it did not eliminate all pregnancy-related tissue, causing elevated hCG levels. If this occurs, a minor surgical procedure called a dilation and curettage (D and C) is often required to remove the tissue.
Reason #4: User error
We know you’re nervous, but it’s important to follow package directions and check the expiration date before using the test.
Even with these safeguards, user error can occur. For example, taking the test too early during your cycle can cause either a false negative or a false positive. You also should take the test first thing in the morning when your urine is concentrated.
Don’t rush. Leave the dipstick in your urine stream for the exact amount of time the package says. Set a timer on a stopwatch or your phone to help you track how long the dipstick has been in your urine stream.
Again, use the stopwatch on your phone when you are waiting for your results. Checking your results during the result time frame is also important.
Reason #5: Certain medical conditions
Certain medical conditions can cause a home pregnancy test to give a false positive in the very rare case. Some of these conditions are:
- urinary tract infection
- kidney disease
- ovarian cancer
- pituitary problems (very rarely)
If you do not want to do another at-home pregnancy test, we understand. Why not let us help you? At the Women’s Choice Resource Center, we offer free and confidential services. We offer lab-quality pregnancy tests in accompaniment with an ultrasound. Whether you want this pregnancy or you are considering abortion, we can go over all your options. Don’t wait! Make an appointment, or call us at 817-769-7872.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
- Chemical Pregnancy: 7 Causes for False-Positive Pregnancy Test: [Internet]. Healthline [May 10th, 2017]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/false-positive-pregnancy-test
- Ectopic Pregnancy [Internet] Mayo Clinic [December 18th, 2020] Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/symptoms-causes/syc-20372088
What is HCG [Internet]. American Pregnancy [Accessed July 26th, 2021]. Available from: https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/hcg-levels/
- Recent Miscarriage or Abortion: “False positive” urine pregnancy test result after successful medication abortion [Internet] National Library of Medicine  Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33596414/
Certain medical conditions: What is a false positive pregnancy test? [Internet] VeryWell Health [April 26th, 2021] https://www.verywellhealth.com/false-positive-pregnancy-test-5120609