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Positive Pregnancy Test But No Symptoms: Why Does It Happen?

Positive Pregnancy Test But No Symptoms

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In some cases, the pregnancy test result may be positive, but there may not be any symptoms. In such a case, give yourself some time for another test or see a doctor. The doctor will conduct blood and urine tests to determine pregnancy.

In this MomJunction post, we tell you why you may have a positive result with no pregnancy symptoms, and when it is a cause for concern.

Positive Pregnancy Test But No Symptoms: Why Does It Happen?

Pregnancy tests check your urine or blood for hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone. Your body is likely to produce this hormone about six days after fertilization (1), and the hormone levels may double every two to three days (2).

If the test result shows positive, but the symptoms do not occur, the following could be the possible reasons.

  1. You may not have recognized the early symptoms: Implantation occurs about the same time your menstrual period is due. You might have taken the light bleeding and cramping (as a result of implantation) (3) for a period.
  1. You may have taken the test too early: Some women start experiencing symptoms a week or two after conception, while others may experience it after a few months. It takes about six to 12 days for the fertilized egg to attach to the uterus (4) and become viable, after which you may take the test. The test result may come positive but the symptoms might take time to appear.
  1. You may have attributed the symptoms to some other causes: You might have taken certain symptoms such as nausea or dizziness for something else other than pregnancy. For instance, you might think that fatigue was a result of a long workweek or strenuous activity, and your mood swings have been caused by stress.
  1. You may experience subtle changes: You may not always have visible changes such as edema, morning sickness, or frequent urination. Sometimes, you may only experience subtle changes such as fatigue, minor appetite changes, aches, or mood swings, which are hardly noticeable.
  1. Ectopic pregnancy. It is a condition wherein the fertilized embryo implants outside the uterus. It is not viable but still produces hCG (5).
  1. False-positive pregnancy test results: Falsepositive test results may also occur when the test shows positive even if you are not pregnant. This could happen due to factors that may mess with the pregnancy test results. These factors may include: 
    • Chemical pregnancy (6): It is a miscarriage that occurs before you know you are pregnant. A low level of hCG could be present in the blood or urine and may give a positive result.
    • Fertility medications, anti-anxiety medications, anticonvulsants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and diuretics may also cause false positives if you take the test immediately after taking the course of medicine (7).
    • Taking the test when your urine is diluted or letting the test kit sit too long may also lead to a false-positive result. Read the kit directions and take the test accordingly. Also, check for its expiry, since it may also affect the test results (8).
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When To See A Doctor

If you have got a positive test result, follow up with your doctor. They may conduct blood tests and urine tests to confirm your pregnancy. These may be followed by an ultrasound to check for the gestational sac and determine if the pregnancy is normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I get a positive pregnancy test in the fourth week?

You may get a positive result on a home pregnancy test at four weeks of pregnancy. It is often recommended that you wait for a week after a missed period and then take a pregnancy test (8).

2. Is it possible to be pregnant and not test positive?

At times, you might  get a negative test result, even when you are pregnant. It is called a false-negative, which might happen if you take the test too early in pregnancy (when hCG levels are low), if the test kit is used incorrectly, or if you have used diluted urine (drank excessive fluids before the test, or if you have taken the test in the latter part of the day) (9).

You  may be anxious to get your pregnancy test results. However, it is always a good idea to give it some time and retake the test. If you have any concerns regarding your pregnancy test results, talk to your ob/gyn and get your doubts cleared.

References:

1. PA Nepomnaschy, et al.; Urinary hCG patterns during the week following implantation; Hum Reprod. (2008).
2. HCG (Urine); University of Rochester Medical Center
3. Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy; SexInfo Online; University of California, Santa Barbara
4. Alok Sharma and Pratap Kumar; Understanding implantation window, a crucial phenomenon; J Hum Reprod Sci. (2012).
5. Vanitha N Sivalingam, et al.; Diagnosis and management of ectopic pregnancy; J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care (2012).
6. “TWEAKING THE TEST; University of Utah Health
7. How accurate are home pregnancy tests; NHS
8. Knowing if you are pregnant; Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
9. Pregnancy testing; Better Health Channel; State Government of Victoria, Australia
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