How to Buy a Pregnancy Test

Two Parts:Choosing the Right Pregnancy TestPurchasing a Pregnancy Test

A possible pregnancy can trigger anxiety or excitement. Taking an in-home pregnancy test can help you find out whether you are expecting. New technology allows you to test for pregnancy prior to your missed period. Pregnancy tests detect human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone made after a fertilized egg implants on the uterine wall.[1] The timing of your menstrual cycle and your personal budget influence which and how many pregnancy tests you buy.

Part 1
Choosing the Right Pregnancy Test

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    Count the number of days until your expected period. Determine where you are in your current menstrual cycle and how sensitive your test needs to be. Have you passed the expected date of your period or not?[2] Some tests claim to detect pregnancy five days before your expected period but studies show that very few tests consistently detect pregnancy before the date of your expected period.[3] False negatives are possible any time you test before your expected period date.[4] Tests are up to ninety-nine percent accurate when you take one at least one week after the first day of your expected period.
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    Understand how tests determine pregnancy. Manufacturers label pregnancy tests based on how sensitive they are in detecting the hCG hormone. If you test early, look for a test that can detect low milli-international units per milliliter of urine for hCG. This will be labeled as mlU/ml. For example, a test detecting 20mlU/ml is more sensitive than a test detecting 50mlU/ml. Thus, if you test early, look for a test with a lower mIU/ml level.[5]
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    Choose whether to purchase a digital or traditional test. Digital tests are easier to read with words appearing that say “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” Some digital tests also estimate how many weeks you are into your pregnancy. These tests are more expensive than traditional tests. Traditional tests have a strip in which one or two dye-based lines appear. Typically, one line means you are not pregnant; two lines mean you are pregnant.[6]
    • Consider buying one digital test as a backup in case you cannot read the traditional test.

Part 2
Purchasing a Pregnancy Test

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    Find a pregnancy test vendor. Now that you know what type of test you want, determine where you can purchase or receive a test. Drugstores and pharmacies along with many grocery stores, supercenters, and even dollar stores have tests for purchase. If you are comfortable purchasing a test, you can buy one in your neighborhood. Otherwise, consider going to another neighborhood. Online retailers also can ship tests discreetly to your doorstep. Your doctor also can give you a test. If you cannot afford to purchase a test or feel awkward buying one, pregnancy support centers often offer pregnancy tests free of charge.[7]
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    Compare prices. If cost matters, visit nearby stores or look online to compare prices. Pregnancy test costs can vary considerably so if you have time, see what the prices are. Particularly, if you plan to buy multiple tests, it makes sense to check price differences. Additionally, many generic brand tests are produced by the same manufacturer as brand name tests so the quality should be the same.[8]
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    Decide how many tests to purchase. Based on your needs and budget, consider purchasing at least two tests at a time. Although your first test should work fine, sometimes tests have defects.[9] Many early testers purchase multiple tests so they can verify results as their expected period approaches. Additionally, if you hope to be pregnant and want to test daily or weekly, purchase multi-packs at a discounted rate.
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    Check the test box’s expiration date before purchase. Make sure the test is still valid. If the test is nearing its expiration date, purchase a different one. It is essential that your pregnancy test has not expired. If you end up purchasing a test and not using it before the expiration date, discard it.[10]
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    Buy the test. If you are comfortable purchasing the test at the counter, go for it. Self check-out is another great option at many mainstream drugstores today. You simply swipe your item and pay for it. No one needs to know what you are buying. Regardless, remember there is no shame in buying a pregnancy test no matter your age or relationship status.
    • If you feel uncomfortable or worry about people seeing you purchase a test, ask a friend to purchase it for you. If you are not with her, make sure to give her all the necessary information so she purchases the right one. You can also make an appointment with your doctor and have a test done then.


  • If you have reached the time that you should have had a menstrual cycle, the traditional tests should be adequate.
  • If you are attempting to become pregnant and know when you ovulate, the digital tests may possibly be able to tell you if you are pregnant or not 5-6 days prior to the expected missed period.
  • If you have any confusion about the test result, consider taking a picture of the the test result, or bringing the actual test to your physician for interpretation.

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Categories: Pregnancy