Those big, bulky pregnancy tests that read “Yes! You’re pregnant!” have to be more accurate than a regular pregnancy test that gives you two little red lines, right? Well, you’d be surprised.

 


By Halle Tecco, MBA, MPH

You may be surprised to learn that digital and analog home pregnancy tests work exactly the same way. They may show you your results in a different way, but there is nothing special about the way a digital pregnancy test works, and one type isn’t necessarily more accurate than the other. 

What’s inside a pregnancy test?

Both digital and analog (what you may know of as “regular”) pregnancy tests use the same test strip to measure the pregnancy hormone, hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), in your urine. If hCG is present at a significant level, then the test will be positive. For “regular” analog tests, this means two lines will show up in the test window.

In digital pregnancy tests, a small computer is built in that reads the strip and displays the results on a small LCD screen. That’s right—inside your digital pregnancy test is an analog pregnancy test! When buying a digital home pregnancy test, you aren’t paying for a better test. You're paying for the battery and electronics required for the pregnancy test to read the lines for you (this can be helpful for some people with impaired vision!). 

The electronic and plastic waste from a digital pregnancy test.

Are analog pregnancy tests as accurate as digital pregnancy tests? 

Yes. Most analog tests are as accurate as digital tests, including the Natalist Pregnancy Test which is 99%+ accurate in predicting pregnancy at three days before your expected period. 

To test early, you’ll want to look at the sensitivity of the test. A pregnancy test’s sensitivity is based on what levels of hCG it can detect, so a highly sensitive test will be able to detect lower amounts of hCG, meaning you can test several days before your missed period.

Early in pregnancy, hCG levels rise rapidly, doubling every two days. The closer you are to your missed period, the more reliable your early pregnancy test results will be.

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Are analog tests as sensitive as digital tests?

Yes, and in some cases even more so! The Natalist At-home Pregnancy Test is highly sensitive and can detect pregnancy up to five days before your expected period. Whereas some at-home digital pregnancy tests have a sensitivity of 20 mIU/mL (meaning there needs to be at least 20 mIU/mL of hCG in the urine), the Natalist test has a sensitivity level of 10 mIU/mL, making it more sensitive. 

Digital tests are harmful to the environment

It is important to note that digital pregnancy tests are especially harmful to the environment. Once thrown away, the mini computer and batteries inside digital tests are considered electronic waste (e-waste), which has been shown to contaminate soil with toxic chemicals such as mercury, lithium, lead and barium. From there, it can get into groundwater and then food systems, disrupting the ecosystem at multiple levels. 

At Natalist we believe that just like Motherhood, Mother Earth is sacred. Both Natalist at-home pregnancy tests and ovulation tests, conveniently bundled in our TTC kitare 100% plastic neutral and can be recycled in some municipalities (if you remove the strip first- read more here). The Natalist tests use less plastic than competitors and produce no toxic electronic waste.

Take-aways

  • Analog tests and digital tests work by measuring the same hormone in urine. In fact, digital pregnancy tests have an analog pregnancy test strip inside!
  • Pregnancy test sensitivity is what you really should be taking into consideration in order to test early.
  • Natalist at-home pregnancy tests are highly sensitive, 100% plastic neutral, and recyclable, so you can make earth-friendlier choices on your path to parenthood. 
  • Digital pregnancy tests are especially harmful to the environment. If you don’t need help reading results, we suggest sticking with analog.