A positive pregnancy test is completely life changing… and sometimes not correct. At-home pregnancy tests are 97 percent effective and accurate, which means that there’s a three percent chance you aren’t actually pregnant. There are few reasons why you might have a false positive pregnancy test (and a subsequent panic attack) even when you aren’t pregnant. What at home pregnancy tests do is measure the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your system. It’s a hormone that gets released in larger doses in the beginning of a pregnancy, then comes in smaller doses after 10 or 12 weeks. It’s released in your endometrial lining to help build the placenta to nourish an incoming baby. So why would it be there if not for an actual pregnancy?
For starters, if you just had a positive pregnancy test, you should seek out a medical professional for the crucial next steps, whatever your choices may be. They will give you a blood test to confirm a viable pregnancy, or examine what’s going on with your body if you truly aren’t pregnant. Among the many reasons why you could see a positive result without being pregnant, most of them require serious medical attention anyway. Sensitivity to hCG in these test varies by brand, but they’re only accurate to a point. See a doctor to confirm for sure, but having high levels of hCG is medically relevant in any case. If you’re sure you aren’t pregnant but got a false positive anyway, these are seven reasons why you might have had a positive pregnancy test.
It's A Chemical PregnancyA chemical pregnancy is what happens when an egg is fertilized, but never implants in the uterus. Instead, you may have a heavier period than normal. But actually, most people don't know that they even have chemical pregnancies. If you take the pregnancy test within a close enough window before your next period is due to arrive, the false positive on the test could be indicative of a chemical pregnancy instead of one set to carry to term. Even though your body starts to make hCG in the endometrial lining during a chemical pregnancy, it doesn't mean that this pregnancy is viable anyway.Source: iStock
Other Medication You May Be TakingAnti-convulsants, tranquilizers, and hypnotics can stimulate the hCG hormone and give you a false positive. Though it's unlikely many of you are going through this, it should also be noted that some infertility medication will also do this to you as well as going through menopause. As a side effect, some medication could mess with your hormones. Your doctor will know if that's the case, but before you freak out, make sure you aren't taking any perscription medication that could send you into a false pregnancy panic.Source: iStock
Contaminated Urine SampleThis feels so silly, but if you don't wash all the soap out of your box-provided sample cup, you can get a false positive. If there's blood or other materials in your sample cup other than urine, they definitely play a factor in swinging the results one way or another. Make sure you follow the instructions to the letter to ensure the most accurate results. Pregnancy test aren't the kind of thing you want to wing or figure out on the fly.Source: iStock
A Recent PregnancyUnder whatever circumstance, if you were recently pregnant and are no longer pregnant, there's a chance the hCG hormone is still in your system and showing up on your pregnancy test, giving you a false positive. Though it's unlikely if you've had a menstrual cycle between an abortion or miscarriage to still see a misleading amount of hCG in your sample, if this is your first period of ovulation following a pregnancy and you have yet to have a normal period after it, it's likely that this is the cause of your false positive pregnancy test.Source: iStock
Expired Pregnancy TestsLike most things in life, pregnancy tests have expiration dates. Use them in the proper window of time and check them when they're ready. Evaporation off the stick could also make it read as a false positive even though it has nothing do you with your hormones and everything to do with how much liquid is present on the stick over time. Bottom line: use your pregnancy test the right way and make sure that your pregnancy test is ready to begin with. Source: iStock
Pituitary Gland DisorderA major gland in your endocrine system, the pituitary gland, when effected by tumors or other disorders, could tell your body to produce hCG when there's no pregnancy to support. If there's no way you could be pregnant and no other explanation for a false positive, definitely see a doctor for an opinion. Tumors, even if they're benign, are generally not such great things to have chilling out in your body. Since your pituitary gland effects so much of the rest of your system, it's best to get this checked out. Source: iStock
Ovarian CystsIf you're prone to ovarian cysts, you know what kind of hellish pain they can cause you. If you are unfamiliar, you might not be feeling pregnancy symptoms, but the pressure, pain, and hormonal shifts caused by ovarian cysts. They share similarities with tumors in that they sit on a very important gland and make that gland, in this case your ovaries, behave in an atypical way that might lead you to belive that you're pregnant when you're not. Especially if there's no way you're pregnant, see a doctor so you can get treated for what's really happening.Source: iStock
Have you ever taken a pregnancy test? Did you ever had a false positive? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.