Negative pregnancy test

Does a negative pregnancy test mean you’re not pregnant? No, not necessarily, a negative pregnancy test doesn’t mean you’re not pregnant. If you have missed your period and the pregnancy test is negative there is a chance you are still pregnant.

A negative urine pregnancy test means that the test did not detect the hormone hCG in your urine. But that doesn’t mean you’re not pregnant — it could be a false negative.

False negative pregnancy test

A false negative pregnancy test can occur for several reasons:

  • you didn’t do it correctly . Read the test instructions carefully. Make sure you don’t check the results too early or too late.
  • your urine is too dilute . For the most accurate result, take the test as soon as you get up in the morning. This is when your urine is the most concentrated.
  • you took the test too early . As many women do, you may have done it after experiencing the first symptoms of pregnancy : sore breasts or changes in vaginal discharge. However, the right time to carry out the test is a few days after you have witnessed a delay in your period. This allows the body enough time to produce enough of the HCG hormones to be detected in a urine test.
  • you have an irregular cycle. When your menstrual cycle is irregular the urine test is more likely to be done too early, before your period is actually late, resulting in a negative test. If your cycles are usually irregular, you should test only two to three weeks after your expected period.
  • you have an ectopic pregnancy , a rare condition in which the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. In these cases, the body takes longer to produce the HCG hormone and the test result can be negative even after fertilization has taken place. Some symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are severe abdominal pain, vomiting, vaginal bleeding or a feeling of abdominal heaviness (if you have these symptoms you need to be treated or stay under constant medical supervision).
  • you are breastfeeding . In that case your cycle, which otherwise could also be regular, may have become irregular and therefore you fall back into the case of women with an irregular cycle.
  • your test has expired or is damaged . Although this occurrence is rather remote, it could happen that the kit does not work and therefore the presence of the hCG is not detected, producing a negative result. If you suspect that the test is not returning the correct result, you should complete another one.
  • you are pregnant with twins and have incredibly high hCG levels. Rarely, extremely high levels of hCG prevent home pregnancy tests from reading the result correctly, and the reading ends up being negative. This is known as the “hook effect”.

Late periods and negative pregnancy tests

If you miss more than three cycles in a row and all pregnancy tests are negative see your doctor for an evaluation. You may have stopped having your period for many reasons, including diabetes, eating disorders, excessive exercise, stress, obesity or excessive thinness, or because you are on medication.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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