Dollar Store Pregnancy Test - Do They Really Work

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Out of all the home pregnancy kits, the dollar store pregnancy test kits are considered economical. These self-testing tests cost a dollar and are as efficient as other expensive home pregnancy tests available in the pharmacy or drug store. These test kits require placing an absorbent tip in the urine sample. The tool reveals the results nearly three minutes after the dip. Though the kit allows great convenience, a few may be doubtful about its efficacy, considering the low price. In this post, we have discussed some aspects of dollar store pregnancy kits, their accuracy, and answers to the most posed questions on their reliability.

In This Article

How Do Pregnancy Test Kits Work?

Dollar store pregnancy tests typically utilize a non-invasive urine test to detect the presence of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in a woman’s urine. 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 fertilization occurs, the egg, now called an embryo, travels down the Fallopian tubeiXA pair of hollow, thin tubes between the ovaries and the uterus for a few days. Once out, it implants itself to the uterine lining. It takes almost 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.

protip_icon Quick fact
It takes around two weeks for the hCG hormone to be detected in the urine using a home pregnancy test (13).

 The Ease Of Dollar Store Pregnancy Test

A dollar store pregnancy test kit provides quick results

Image: Shutterstock

A dollar store or dollar tree pregnancy test kit is a DIY (Do it yourself) test that 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.

While some may find it easy to use, its small size may make it difficult to use and handle for others.

For women who are considering family planning or are actively trying to conceive, dollar-store pregnancy tests can provide an accessible and budget-friendly option for monitoring their maternity status.

How Accurate Is A Dollar Store Pregnancy Test?

The accuracy of the test depends on using the kit properly

Image: IStock

You may definitely wonder, are dollar tree pregnancy tests accurate? The dollar store or dollar tree pregnancy test 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 (US FDA) (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.”

La Toya Luces-Sampson, MD, FACOG, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist from Stockton, California, says, “Dollar store pregnancy tests may be less accurate than over-the-counter digital tests but can still be used with confidence, especially since any over-the-counter pregnancy test should be verified by a physician for accuracy.”

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?

You may take a home pregnancy test if you do not get your period

Image: Shutterstock

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). Dr. Luces-Sampson suggests, “Any home pregnancy test should be taken no earlier than the first day of the missed period for women with a regular 28-day cycle. If a negative test is believed to be false, then taking another in one week is recommended.”

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. It’s important to note that according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 10 to 20 out of every 100 pregnant women may not detect their pregnancy on the first day of their missed period. So even if you have missed your period, there is a possibility that the test might not show positive right away.

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 estrogeniXA sex hormone linked to the aspects of the female reproductive system, including menstruation and pregnancy 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).

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You may experience breast tenderness as early as one to two weeks after conception (14).

5. Frequent urination

You may suddenly feel the urge to urinate often due to the changes in your hormone levels that cause more blood flo

You may suddenly feel the urge to urinate often due to the changes in your hormones, 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 are simple and 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?

A pregnancy test used after the expiry date may give a false positive result

Image: Shutterstock

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-epilepticiXDrugs that help manage or prevent episodes of epilepsy and other seizure disorders by controlling irregular brain activity (barbiturates), anti-anxiety (e.g. Valium “diazepam”, Xanax “alprazolam”), diureticsiXAlso known as water tablets, they aid in the removal of excess water and salt from the body through frequent urination (e.g. lasix) promethazine (anti-allergy medication), and anti-psychosisiXDrugs that alter brain activity and help manage various mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder. 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.

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Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs, such as birth control and antibiotics, do not affect the home pregnancy test results (15).

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?

Diluted urine may give a false negative test result

Image: Shutterstock

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. You can also wait for some time and go for other diagnostic tests to get a more accurate result.

protip_icon Did you know?
AntihistaminesiXMedications used to treat allergy symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, and hives can cause a false negative pregnancy test (16). High hCG levels can also give false negative results.

The graph below represents the usage of home pregnancy tests in the United States from 2011 to 2020 and predicts their use in 2024. The calculations have been based on the data generated by the United Nations data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS). About 7.92 million U.S women were found to use a home pregnancy test in 2020, and the numbers are predicted to decrease to 7.14 million in 2024.

Usage of a home pregnancy test by US women from 2011 to 2024

Source: U.S. population: Usage of a home pregnancy test within 12 months from 2011 to 2024

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 the dollar store pregnancy test shows a positive result, it means you are pregnant. Check the expiry date on the kit as an expired kit may give false negatives. Then you can 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I take a dollar tree pregnancy test before a missed period?

No. A dollar pregnancy test may not detect pregnancy before a missed period. It can only provide results based on hCG levels in your body after you miss your periods.

2. Are pregnancy tests from dollar tree as effective as expensive tests?

Yes. Although some expensive pregnancy test kits may provide quicker results, dollar tree pregnancy tests are believed to be as accurate as expensive ones and also provide quick results.

3. How does an evaporation line look like on a dollar store pregnancy test?

An evaporation line will appear as a faint, colorless line that forms due to the drying up of your pee if you wait longer to interpret your test results (13).

Dollar store pregnancy test kits, also called “cheapies” in slang, are the most economical home testing kits. When it comes to women’s health and reproductive health, it can be a convenient and reliable way to confirm a suspected pregnancy. The makers claim these kits to be 99% accurate, but it is possible that they may not be able to detect minimal amounts of HCG. You can consider repeat testing in a couple of days or checking for pregnancy only a week after a missed period to confirm the results. More than the make and brand, the way you follow the instructions to use the kit determines the accuracy of the report.

Infographic: Are Expensive Pregnancy Tests Better?

All pregnancy tests, including the expensive ones, are 99 percent accurate if tested as per instructions on the recommended dates. Usually, pregnancy tests may cost somewhere around a dollar to 25 dollars, depending on the brands. Sometimes, even expensive tests can give false negative results if not tested during the specified period. Go through the infographic to learn more about expensive pregnancy tests.

complications of untreated rectal bleeding in pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Key Pointers

  • Dollar pregnancy is found to be economical for the reasonable price and availability options.
  • It provides accurate information about pregnancy.
  • With this kit, women have to wait for less than usual tests.
  • Nevertheless, consulting a doctor is recommended to confirm the positive result.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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
13. Pregnancy Tests;; Cleveland Clinic.
14. What are some common signs of pregnancy?; National Institute of Health
15. Pregnancy Test; Office On Women’s Health
16. Pregnancy testing; Better Health Channel
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