What Causes A False Positive Pregnancy Test: 07 Possible Causes

Lots of emotions accompany a positive pregnancy test depending upon whether you are trying to conceive or not. But, one more thing could be emotional as well as perplexing – a false positive pregnancy test. 

Surprisingly, a false positive pregnancy test is way more common than you think, particularly today with highly sensitive over-the-counter tests. 

So, do you know what is a false positive pregnancy test and what causes it?

If you are someone who is trying to conceive, this blog will be a great resource for you to read about what can lead to a false pregnancy test.

Read the blog till the end and learn about some of the most common causes of a false pregnancy test and how you can obtain more accurate results on your home pregnancy tests.

What Is Meant By A False Positive Pregnancy Test?

OTC home pregnancy tests measure the hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your urine that’s liberated abundantly during pregnancy – specifically at the beginning. As far as you are taking the test appropriately, a positive test result indicates the presence of HCG in your urine.

But here’s the catch – Low levels of hCG hormones could be present in your body even when you are not pregnant. And just because you have obtained a positive test result doesn’t mean that your pregnancy will progress smoothly.  

Do you know 10-20% of known pregnancies end up in a miscarriage?

The sad thing is that the actual number is likely higher because miscarriages or pregnancy losses can occur even before women realize that they are pregnant.

Research suggests that about 25-30% of early pregnancy tests do not make progress normally. Therefore, if you get a positive pregnancy test that turns out to be negative later, this is a significant cause for the so-called false or faulty result. 

The next question which arises here is – “How common is a false positive pregnancy test”?

Surprisingly, false-positive pregnancy tests are very common as the OTC pregnancy tests available nowadays are extremely sensitive and detect the hCG hormone in your urine even at considerably low levels. Whereas with the older tests, high levels of the pregnancy hormone were required in order to get detected.

So, These tests might not display a positive result until you have missed your period. But now, you can obtain a positive pregnancy test some days before you miss your period. 

What Causes A False Positive Pregnancy Test?

One of the most common causes of a false positive pregnancy test is testing too early.

Other causes include taking the test incorrectly, using an expired test, having a medical condition, taking certain medications, etc. Let us discuss some of them in brief. 

1. You had an ectopic pregnancy

In a normal pregnancy, a fertilized egg gets attached to the lining of the uterus. But in an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg sticks within the route to the uterus and grows somewhere else, generally the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy is also called a tubal pregnancy. 

With an ectopic pregnancy, you might get a false-positive test result due to the release of hCG hormone in your body. 

Following are the common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy:

  • Severe pain on one side of the abdomen
  • Nausea and sore breasts
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, shoulder, neck, or pelvis
  • Pressure on your rectum
  • Light to heavy vaginal spotting or bleeding

An ectopic pregnancy can make your fallopian tube burst, leading to a life-threatening condition.

So, when you notice these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. 

Also Read: Don’t Let These Pregnancy Symptoms Embarrass You. Know The Hacks!

2. You had a chemical pregnancy

Chemical pregnancy can also lead to a false positive pregnancy test. A chemical pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg (called an embryo) is unable to implant or develop in the beginning. This could happen due to a wide variety of reasons. 

Early pregnancy loss doesn’t occur because of anything you may have done, but because of the problems within the uterus, including:

  • Scar tissue
  • Fibroids
  • A congenital uterine anomaly that leads to an irregular shaped uterus

3. You have used the test incorrectly, or the test isn’t working appropriately

When used correctly, home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate. To use the pregnancy test appropriately, you will need to read and follow the instructions carefully. Wait for the specified time before you check the result.

Most home pregnancy tests have a control indicator that indicates whether the test is working properly or not. If the control line doesn’t appear, the test isn’t working correctly and could show a faulty result. 

4. You are currently on a medication containing hCG in it

Most medications don’t affect the pregnancy test results. However, some fertility drugs containing the hCG hormone in them could potentially lead to a false positive pregnancy test.

In case you take any fertility medication, it’s advised to talk to your doctor to confirm the pregnancy test result. 

5. You have a medical condition

Although it’s extremely rare, certain medical conditions, including certain types of cancer, problems with your ovaries, and chronic kidney disease, may cause your body to have elevated levels of hCG hormone and could potentially lead to a false positive pregnancy test. 

6. You have a molar pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is an unsuitable pregnancy that develops in the uterus at the beginning of pregnancy. It occurs when there are an abnormal placenta and no fetus or when the sperm splits up prematurely during fertilization.

Molar pregnancies can usually be detected in ultrasound or after you experience symptoms such as early bleeding. 

7. You have gone past the point of pregnancy

Post-menopausal women or those going through menopause have increased levels of hCG hormone, which can lead to a false-positive test result even when they aren’t pregnant. Talk to your doctor and confirm your pregnancy.

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Natasha Patel

Natasha Patel is the senior writer for the women’s health edition at CheapMedicineShop.com. She worked as a primary care provider before joining the writer’s panel of the blog. She is also trained in routine obstetrics and continues to practice in Oklahoma, where she lives with her family.