What types of pregnancy test are available?

There are now many different pregnancy tests on the market and many chemists, supermarkets and high street pharmacies offer a range of different tests. Popular brands include First Response, Clearblue, Sure Sign and One Step.

Free tests are also available from GP surgeries, NHS walk-in centres and local family planning and sexual health clinics. Some young people’s support centres, including Brook Centres, also offer pregnancy tests free of charge.

Some tests can detect pregnancy earlier than others (these are commonly known as early pregnancy tests) and some can tell you how many weeks pregnant you are.

Early pregnancy tests

As technology has advanced, the range of pregnancy tests has increased and there are now many different products available. Early pregnancy tests can now produce results up to six days before a missed period; this is dependent on you having a regular cycle so that you can predict when your period should fall in the month. Early pregnancy tests are designed to detect very small amounts of the pregnancy hormone HCG and are extremely sensitive. The tests can be taken much earlier than regular pregnancy tests but make sure you buy an early test; if you take a regular test early the chances are they will not be able to detect the low levels of HCG and will give a negative result.

The First Response early pregnancy test has a 62 percent success rate 6 days before a missed period, which rises to a 99 percent success rate 2 days before a missed period. It is advisable to repeat the test a few days later if you get a negative result and feel you may be pregnant, as the test may not have detected the low levels of HCG.

You can do an early pregnancy test up to six days before you are due to have a period; the test can be done at any time of the day but the concentration of HCG will usually be higher in the morning.

How much do pregnancy tests cost?

Pregnancy tests are available free of charge from GP surgeries, NHS walk-in centres and local sexual health and GUM clinics. They can also be bought at many supermarkets, high street chemists and pharmacies; most cost in the region of £5 to £10 and some come in packs of two. Some brands are more expensive than others and prices may vary according to which supermarket or chemist you choose.

Pregnancy test myths

Just like with pregnancy itself, there are many myths about pregnancy tests. The most common myths are outlined below:

  • Positive results can be caused by medication: the only type of medication which can falsely give a positive result is fertility medication. Fertility medication causes HCG to be present in the blood, which may cause the test to produce a positive result.
  • The process is messy: although it sounds like a messy process, most women will confirm that the tests are easy to do and cause very little mess.
  • Positive tests can be wrong: it is very unlikely that a test that is positive will be wrong (the only way this can happen is by taking fertility drugs, which can cause HCG to be present in the blood, as explained above)
  • False tests always mean that you’re not pregnant: false tests may be wrong and this is much more common than false positive tests. Tests can come up with a false negative result for many reasons including doing the test wrong and doing the test too early.
  • Alcohol and drinking affect pregnancy tests: alcohol and drinking alcohol will not affect the result of the test. Only taking fertility medication or using the test incorrectly can affect the result of the test.

Types of pregnancy test available:

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