What is Pregnancy Test Sensitivity?
Are you doing research on which pregnancy test is right for you? You may have heard about “sensitivity,” but what exactly does it mean? In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions about pregnancy test sensitivity.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is the pregnancy hormone detected by an at-home pregnancy test. hCG is made by cells formed in a placenta, and if you are pregnant, you can begin detecting it in your urine. When testing for pregnancy at home, you’ll want a test with a high sensitivity, meaning it can detect pregnancy as early as possible.
What Does “Sensitivity” Mean When Testing for Pregnancy?
Taking a step back, the sensitivity of a test is a test’s ability to correctly give a positive result. So, the more sensitive the test, the fewer false negative results (e.g. a result that shows up as negative when in fact the person is pregnant).
In the world of pregnancy tests, the sensitivity of a test is the lowest amount of hCG (pregnancy hormone) in the urine that can be detected by that test. Since hCG levels start off low and get higher as the pregnancy progresses, a higher sensitivity test means you can test sooner when levels of hCG are lower.
Since hCG hormone levels start off low and get higher as the pregnancy progresses, a higher sensitivity test means you can test sooner when levels of hCG are lower.
Significance of Test Sensitivity
A highly sensitive test can detect early pregnancy, sometimes even before a missed period. Besides early detection, tests with higher sensitivity might yield accurate results slightly earlier than those with lower sensitivity.
The Natalist At-home Pregnancy Test is highly sensitive and can detect pregnancy early. Whereas other tests have a sensitivity of 20 mIU/mL (meaning there needs to be at least 20 mIU/mL of hCG in the urine), our test has a sensitivity level of 10 mIU/mL and can detect the hCG hormone up to five days before your expected period.
What Factors Influence Sensitivity of Home Pregnancy Tests?
Now that we've discusses the benefits and significance of highly sensitive tests, let's look at what can influence sensitivity in home pregnancy tests.
- Time of Testing: Pregnancy test sensitivity is closely linked to the timing of the test. Taking a test too early, even with a highly sensitive test, can lead to a false negative result. It's often recommended to wait until the first day of your missed period or a few days thereafter for better accuracy.
- Quality of Test: Not all pregnancy tests are created equal. Some brands invest more in research and development to create tests with higher sensitivity and better accuracy.
- Individual hCG Levels: Every body is unique, and hCG hormone levels can vary from person to person during pregnancy. Some women naturally produce higher levels of hCG earlier in pregnancy, making it possible for them to get a positive result on a less sensitive test sooner.
- Urine Concentration: The concentration of hCG in your urine can fluctuate throughout the day. A higher concentration of hCG in your morning urine, for example, might lead to a more accurate result with a test that has slightly lower sensitivity.
What Level of hCG Is Considered Pregnant?
An hCG level of less than 5 mIU/mL is considered negative for pregnancy, and anything above that is considered positive for pregnancy.
What’s the Normal Range for hCG Levels When Testing?
Typically, the hCG levels will double every 72 hours. The level will reach its peak in the first eight to 11 weeks of pregnancy and then will decline and level off for the remainder of the pregnancy.
How Does the Natalist Pregnancy Test Compare to Others in the Market?
Unlike other tests that make you wait for a higher level of hCG to be present in your urine, the Natalist pregnancy test is an FDA-cleared test that can be used up to five days earlier than your expected period. We are a team of moms, and we understand how important it is to find out if you’re pregnant as soon as possible!
What Does a Faint Line Mean With hCG Levels?
If the line is faint, it usually means that the hCG level is still low. If you are pregnant, one reason why hCG levels could be low is because you're still very early into your pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, the levels of hCG will rise, so if you choose to test again, you may see a much stronger positive test line.