The scoop on home pregnancy tests

The urine pregnancy tests that you get at the pharmacy, the grocery store, or even the dollar store are very reliable. They usually cost between $10-$20 each, and it is fine to buy the generic brand. There are just a few things to consider:

  1. Read the instructions carefully: make sure you understand how to tell a positive test (= pregnant) from a negative test (not pregnant). There is always a “control” line that shows up a few seconds after you have put a few drops of urine into the test. The control line just means that the test kit is in good working shape. That control line does not mean that you are pregnant; there will be another, “positive” line if the test shows you are pregnant. Be sure to read the directions in the box before you do the test because every test brand is a little different.
  2. Make sure that it has been long enough since the last time you had sex to get a good answer. It takes 14-16 days (about 2 weeks) from the time you had sex to have a positive pregnancy test. If it has been less than 2 weeks since your last sex, you need to repeat the test again.

If you get a positive result on a home pregnancy test, it’s time to call a health provider/clinic and start thinking about your next steps. The clinic will test you again to confirm that the test is positive. This might be really surprising, confusing, good, bad (or all of the above) information to deal with, but the sooner you figure out what is going on, the better decisions you will be able to make about your pregnancy.

If getting pregnant right now is not what you want, know that the type of birth control that you are using really matters. The IUD and the implant have very, very low failure rates: only 1 in 100, to 1 in 1000 women will get pregnant each year. Compare this to other methods: the pill – 8 in 100 each year; condoms – 20 in 100 each year; no birth control- 85 in 100 each year. You can get low or no cost birth control at a clinic in your area (search by your zip code) if it’s not the right time for you to get pregnant.