Research-backed

Dollar Store Pregnancy Test - Do They Really Work

Image: iStock

IN THIS ARTICLE

The dollar store pregnancy tests are considered cheap, and one of the best drugstore pregnancy tests. The test costs only $1 but works like any other branded home pregnancy test that might be expensive. If you think you are pregnant, you may use the absorbent tip of this test kit to test your urine. It just takes about three minutes to give you the result.

Dollar store pregnancy tests are affordable and sensitive, like any other expensive home kits. But are these tests accurate and reliable? MomJunction tells you about their accuracy, how to read them, and more.

How Do Pregnancy Test Kits Work?

The pregnancy test kit works by identifying the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your urine sample. When you conceive, your body starts to produce this hormone (1). But it does not immediately produce enough for the kit to identify in your urine sample. Therefore, you need to wait a few weeks after ovulation to test for pregnancy.

During ovulation, your egg undergoes fertilization with your partner’s sperm. Once the fertilization occurs, the egg, now called an embryo, spends a few days traveling down the Fallopian tube. Once out, it implants itself to the uterine lining. It almost takes six to ten days from ovulation to implantation. Here is when your body starts producing the hCG hormone (2). This is the reason you will not know you are pregnant until you miss your periods.

 The Ease Of Dollar Store Pregnancy Test

A dollar store or dollar tree pregnancy test kit has easy-to-read instructions. The kit provides quick and usually accurate results, provided you follow the instructions on the pack. Besides, they are compact and easy to carry, just like travel-size toiletries.

The test has its downside as well. It is quite small, and this makes it difficult to handle and use.

How Accurate Is A Dollar Store Pregnancy Test?

The dollar store or dollar tree pregnancy tests claim to be more than 99% accurate. However, their accuracy depends on multiple factors, such as using the kit properly.

As per the US Food and Drug Administration (3), “the accuracy of a pregnancy test depends on how well the instructions to use and interpret the results are followed. If a test kit is mishandled or misunderstood, you are likely to get poor results.”

Dollar Store Pregnancy Test Sensitivity

The dollar store pregnancy test is said to be 99% accurate, but it may not detect low levels of hCG. This is the reason you may want to wait for a week after missing your period before using the kit. Most experts agree that you get the most accurate results when your expected period is a week late.

How Soon Can You Take A Dollar Store Pregnancy Test?

Your body gives you signs, albeit minor ones, to show that you are pregnant. Many women miss these signs because they are similar to the symptoms you get just before your menstrual period is due (4). You can use a dollar store pregnancy test if you notice one or more of the following early symptoms of pregnancy. However, there is no clinical indication that these signs demonstrate the right time to take a pregnancy test.

1. Missed period

This is the most obvious sign of pregnancy. However, change in diet, excessive exercise, stress, or an underlying medical condition such as thyroid problems can affect your menstrual cycle (5). If you chart your cycle, which you will when trying to conceive, you should be able to determine the date of your expected period. If your period doesn’t occur, you can take out that home pregnancy test and use it. However, gynecologists generally recommend using the test a week after the missed period.

2. Fatigue

You start feeling tired for no reason. As your pregnancy progresses, you may feel more fatigued and tired until your hCG levels finally settle down. Fatigue is one of the early symptoms of pregnancy but often overlooked because women also have the same tiredness when their menstrual period is around the corner. Tiredness could also be due to hectic work and home schedule, so it always does not indicate pregnancy.

3. Abdominal cramps

When implantation occurs, it causes cramps similar to what you experience when you get your menstrual period. This may lead you to believe that you are about to get your period, but it will not start as scheduled. Abdominal cramps could also happen in case of prolonged gaps between meals and persistent flatulence or bloating.

4. Breast tenderness

Your body starts preparing for the baby when you are pregnant. The increase in estrogen and progesterone levels causes changes in your body, including enlargement of breasts. Your breasts and nipples will get tender and sore. You may also notice that your breast size increases. This happens due to an increase in blood flow (6).

5. Frequent urination

You may suddenly feel the urge to urinate often due to the changes in your hormone levels that cause more blood flow through your kidneys. This fills your bladder quickly and hence, the need to urinate frequently. However, frequent urination is usually observed from six to eight weeks of pregnancy.

6. Mood swings

Hormone fluctuations cause mood swings not only before your period but also in the early days of your pregnancy. Combined with fatigue, it can compound the problem. However, mood swings could happen due to other reasons, as well.

All the probable reasons that indicate a possible pregnancy are highly differential. Therefore, it is best to wait until you miss your period to take the test.

How To Read A Dollar Store Pregnancy Test?

The dollar store pregnancy test can detect hCG levels from 20mIU/ml. The instructions on the pack clearly tell you how to take the test.

  • Pee into a disposable cup and then use the pipette to siphon out a small amount of urine from the cup.
  • Use the pipette to drop the urine into the slot in the test strip and wait for the urine to travel up the test
  • Once this is done, the results will be apparent by the appearance of test lines.

You can get just three results when using a Dollar Store pregnancy test:

  • Two light pink to dark pink test lines indicating a positive pregnancy test.
  • One test line means a negative result (you are not pregnant).
  • No test line shows an invalid result. This could be because you didn’t use the test as instructed, or the test kit has crossed its expiry date.

Dollar Store Pregnancy Test Faint Line

If you are pregnant, the dollar store pregnancy test will show two lines on the test strip. Sometimes, the variable line, which indicates a positive result, could be faint. This can lead to confusion – are you pregnant or not. Even if the line is extremely faint, it is a positive result.

When you test too early, your urine does not have sufficient amounts of hCG. Hence, the variable line is faint and not as pronounced as the control line. However, a faint line, too, indicates that you have used the kit correctly.

But, to confirm the test result, it is wise to schedule an appointment with your doctor promptly. The doctor will perform a blood test as this is more accurate. Usually, a blood test is done ten days after you miss your menstrual period. The levels of hCG in these results would help confirm a positive pregnancy.

Along with a faint line, women might also encounter a “false positive” or “false negative” result. These are not uncommon and can happen due to various reasons.

What Is False Positive On Dollar Store Pregnancy Test?

Sometimes, your dollar store pregnancy test may be positive when you are not pregnant. False positives can occur due to various reasons. Here we list a few probable reasons:

1. Incorrect testing

If you don’t follow the dollar store pregnancy test instructions precisely, then the chances are that you might end up with a false positive even though you are not pregnant. Hence, it is important to read the instructions carefully and follow them to the T to get accurate results.

2. Defective pregnancy test

All home pregnancy test kits have an expiration date. If you use a Dollar Store pregnancy test after the expiry date, it can lead to false positive. The only way to get an accurate result is to use a test kit within the expiry date marked on the pack.

3. Evaporation line

If you wait longer than the recommended time to read your test result, the urine will evaporate. This leaves behind an evaporation line on the test strip along with the control line. It will prompt you to believe you are pregnant when you are not.

4. Chemical pregnancy

Sometimes, the sperm fertilizes the egg successfully. However, the embryo fails to survive. This leads to a false positive because your body produces hCG as the embryo begins the implantation process, but does not complete it. Although called a chemical pregnancy, it is nothing but an extremely early miscarriage. You will experience bleeding around the time of your menstrual period as a result of the miscarriage (7).

5. Medications

Certain medications, like anti-epileptic (barbiturates), anti-anxiety (e.g. Valium “diazepam”, Xanax “alprazolam”), diuretics (e.g. lasix) promethazine (anti-allergy medication), and anti-psychosis medications (e.g. chlorpromazine, clozapine) can lead to a false positive result because they cause hCG levels in your body to increase (8)

6. Fertility treatment

Women undergoing fertility treatment receive hCG shots to spur ovulation. This can give a false positive two to three weeks after you take the shot. The best way to confirm your pregnancy is to get a doctor to test your blood.

7. Ovarian cyst

Ovarian cysts are benign and usually disappear on their own. However, these fluid-filled cysts cause the hCG levels in your body to increase marginally, which your pregnancy test may be able to detect, leading to a false-positive result (9).

If your Dollar Store pregnancy test comes away positive, but you doubt the veracity of the result, it is time to make an appointment with your doctor. With the help of a blood test and maybe ultrasound scans, your doctor will be able to confirm your pregnancy.

What Is False Negative On Dollar Store Pregnancy Tests?

Imagine that you use the dollar store pregnancy test kit, and you get a negative result only to find out a few weeks later that you are pregnant. This can lead to confusion, stress, and anxiety. There are many reasons why a dollar store pregnancy tests false negative (10).

1. Testing too early

The main reason for a false negative is testing your urine too early. A Dollar Store pregnancy test kit is not designed for early detection. This will give a false negative. You should wait to miss your period, perhaps three to four days after the due date, to test your urine. This will give a more accurate result.

2. Not using the test properly

Yes, we know you are excited about using the pregnancy test from the dollar store, but this excitement prevents you from reading the directions and instructions on the package. If you don’t read and follow the instructions carefully, don’t expect the test results to be accurate. You could easily end up with a false negative because you didn’t wait long enough for the test to yield the results, or you didn’t put enough urine in the slot.

3. Reading the results too early or late

Make sure you read the results within the time limit mentioned in the instructions. If you read it too early, then it will prevent the test from displaying accurate results. On the other hand, if you check the result after the time range, the test will be inaccurate. In fact, the result is considered invalid regardless of what it shows.

4. Diluted urine

If you drink too much water before taking the test, it dilutes the concentration of hCG in your urine. So, you get a false negative. This is the reason you should use the first urine in the morning, which is concentrated, for a Dollar Store pregnancy test (11).

5. Obesity

Obese women with a high body mass index (BMI) tend to have lower levels of hCG. So, if you are obese, your home pregnancy test may be negative for quite a while. It will take time for the result to turn positive, and this will happen only when hCG levels in your body build up to such an extent that the test can deduct it (12).

6. Pregnancy problems

You can get a false negative if you have a chemical pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, or early miscarriage. Under such circumstances, initially, you may get a positive result, and a few days later a negative one. If you get two different results, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Remember, ectopic pregnancy is dangerous and life-threatening. It can damage your internal organs, leading to irreversible infertility.

Don’t get despondent if you get a negative after trying to conceive. If you think you are pregnant even after a negative result, wait a few days and test your urine again. If you get a positive this time, you need to visit your doctor. A more accurate test, such as an hCG blood test, will give you a definitive answer whether you are pregnant or not.

The Next Steps After Dollar Store Pregnancy Test

After you get your Dollar Store pregnancy test results, there are a few things that you should do based on the results.

1. Positive result

If you get one test positive, then you can try once more and see if it confirms the previous test. If it does, then schedule an appointment with your doctor for a blood test and ultrasound. The two will confirm your pregnancy at an accuracy rate of almost 100%. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you can immediately begin prenatal care to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy.

2. Mixed results

If you have had mixed results with the multiple Dollar Store pregnancy tests, you still need to visit your healthcare provider for a checkup. A mixed result could be a chemical pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, or confirmed pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend a blood test or ultrasound to find out the cause of the mixed results and suggest an appropriate course of treatment.

3. Negative result

If you get a negative result, you should get your period. In the case of a missed or late period, repeat the pregnancy test a week after taking the first test. Depending upon the test result, consult a gynecologist.

4. Continued negative result

If you get a negative result again and your period doesn’t begin, it is time to consult your doctor. A missed period could be a sign of some underlying health problem, such as low body weight, stress, over-exertion, too much exercise, thyroid disorders, or problems with your ovaries. By finding out the cause of amenorrhea (missed menstrual period), the doctor can treat you and make sure your menstrual cycle resumes.

Don’t let the $1 price tag of a Dollar Store pregnancy test fool you. The test is quite sensitive (though not ultra-sensitive) as well as accurate. However, it does hold chances of wrong results. If your period does not start even after a few weeks, then see a doctor, who would suggest a blood test.

Did you use a dollar store pregnancy test, and was it accurate? Do share your reviews in the comment section below.

References:

1. HCG in urine; Medline Plus; U.S National Library of Medicine
2. Wilcox AJ et al.; Time of implantation of the conceptus and loss of pregnancy; National Center For Biotechnology Information
3. Pregnancy; FDA
4. What are some common signs of pregnancy?; US Department of Health and Human Services
5. 9 Reasons Your Period Is Late (If You’re Not Pregnant); A&M University, Texas
6. Antônio Arildo Reginaldo de Holanda et al.; Ultrasound findings of the physiological changes and most common breast diseases during pregnancy and lactation; National Center For Biotechnology Information
7. How accurate are home pregnancy tests?; NHS
8. Ovarian Cysts; UT Southwestern
9. Courtney A. Schreiber et al.; A Little Bit Pregnant: Modeling How the Accurate Detection of Pregnancy Can Improve HIV Prevention Trials; National Center For Biotechnology Information
10. Pregnancy testing; Victoria State Government
11. Pregnancy Test (hCG); Labtests Online
12. H. Muppala et al.; Morbidly Obese Woman Unaware of Pregnancy until Full-Term and Complicated by Intraamniotic Sepsis with Pseudomonas; National Center For Biotechnology Information