There are many reasons you might need a pregnancy test. If you’ve missed a period or your contraception failed, you may be wondering if you are pregnant. Pregnancy causes your body to go through a lot of changes. New chemicals are produced, which is what the tests detect.
Before you get a test, you want to know how much it costs. Is it better to see your healthcare professional to get a test done, or can you find a good inexpensive at-home pregnancy test? There are many different types of pregnancy tests. Let’s take a look at the costs of different tests.
Why Would I Need a Pregnancy Test?
There are many possible reasons that you may need to figure out if you’re pregnant. For example, if you’re trying for a baby, you probably want to check periodically. If you are experiencing pregnancy symptoms, it’s a good idea to confirm you are pregnant so you can receive prenatal care from a health care provider.
Sometimes, you will need to take a pregnancy test before a major procedure, especially if you will be under anesthesia. Anesthetics can harm a baby, so doctors typically require a negative test before performing certain procedures.
To find out whether you’re expecting or not, you’ll need a pregnancy test. Urine pregnancy tests are the least expensive option. These tests can be a reliable way to detect an early pregnancy as soon as the first trimester.
Although an ultrasound can confirm a pregnancy, it can also be expensive. Most pregnancies don’t start showing until the second trimester.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
When someone’s pregnant, their body begins to produce a chemical called human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG. Generally, hCG production starts after the fertilized egg implants itself into the womb, which is roughly 10 days after conception.
A pregnancy test detects the hCG in urine or blood. Most tests that you find in the grocery store or drugstore are urine tests since it’s much simpler. Blood tests, on the other hand, are usually used by an OB-GYN to measure the amount of hCG, which can help them better determine how well the pregnancy is going.
With an at-home pregnancy test, the hCG reacts with the paper in the strip or stick. However, if you take a test too early, it’s likely that you’ll get a false negative. It takes time for hCG to build up in the body.
The amount of hCG should increase daily during the early part of the pregnancy. Each week you wait, the more likely you are to get an accurate result. If you take a test in the morning or after holding urine for four hours, you are more likely to get an accurate reading.
It may surprise you to learn that drinking a lot of fluids before you take a pregnancy test with a urine sample might also cause a false negative if you take your test too early in your pregnancy. While drinking lots of water increases the volume of urine, the fluids tend to dilute the amount of hCG.
What the pregnancy test results look like depends on the type of test you use. Some have a digital display, while others have double lines or a plus symbol. Most pregnancy tests have a control window that can show if the test is working.
It’s important to follow the directions that come with the pregnancy test you use. For example, tests take a certain amount of time to finish processing. Many tests need to be placed on a flat surface for the test to work properly. If the test is moved before time is up, there is a chance you’ll receive incorrect results.
What Kinds of Pregnancy Tests Are There?
Most at-home pregnancy tests are tests that measure the amount of hCG in your urine stream, but there are many different types of tests. Each type of test has its own unique attributes, but all of them tend to be accurate. They also have their own directions to help you determine if you have a positive result or not.
Typical over-the-counter pregnancy tests have hCG strips with a plastic casing around them. They are one of the most common types of tests. These tests tend to be inexpensive and easy to use.
Midstream tests are similar to the standard type. They have the plastic casing around a strip to test for the pregnancy hormone, but the casings tend to be grooved so that it’s easier to maneuver. They are supposed to be held in your urine stream. These tests are fairly cheap, although some might be slightly more expensive.
3. Dip Stick
A dipstick is a type of pregnancy test that’s just an hCG strip. To use a dipstick, you need to collect your sample in a cup and dip it in the test. These pregnancy tests are also inexpensive.
4. Rapid Response
You’ve probably guessed that rapid-response pregnancy tests have the fastest results. Instead of looking for only the hCG hormone, rapid response tests also rely on other hormones common during pregnancy. They tend to be very precise, and, therefore, more expensive.
Digital tests also use strips to measure hCG levels to determine if you’re pregnant or not. They have a digital display of the results and are usually more accurate and expensive.
A dropper pregnancy test has the same working principle as a standard test. These tests come with a dropper that you can use to collect the sample and drop it onto the stick. Dropper pregnancy tests are accurate, and usually around the same price as a standard test.
7. Pregnancy Tests With Accessories
Some pregnancy tests will come with their own cups and other accessories that may make testing easier. Prices tend to vary, but they may cost a little extra than a test on its own.
8. Blood Tests
Since hCG can also be found in the blood, you can also get your blood tested. There are two types of blood tests. You can get at-home tests, which are accurate, but they tend to be difficult to use.
Blood pregnancy tests are most commonly used at the doctor's office to determine the levels of hCG in the bloodstream.
Is One Better Than the Other?
Although many of the more expensive tests can be more accurate than others, when properly used, cheap pregnancy tests can also provide correct results. Since most tests use the same method, an hCG test strip, it’s likely that you’ll get the same results with a cheaper test.
Many doctors, OB-GYNs, and midwives actually use tests similar to store-bought tests. If you bring in your own positive tests, it’s possible that your provider won’t find it necessary to repeat unless you are surprised by the result, or you need a blood test.
However, it is important to pay attention to the expiration dates on the test. Expired pregnancy tests don’t have accurate results since the reaction doesn’t work properly. An expired test can result in a negative test when it is a positive pregnancy test.
How Much Do Pregnancy Tests Cost?
Not every pregnancy test is built the same, so it follows that they will all have different prices. Some tests can be bought for one dollar, while others can cost over 30 dollars. Prices can vary for many reasons.
One of the major reasons that prices vary is brands. When you walk into a store to find pregnancy tests, there are many different types of tests and many different kinds of brands.
Since all pregnancy tests use hCG test strips, the brand you use doesn’t really matter. However, if you’re looking for a more expensive test but don’t want to pay that much, there are brands, like Equate, that mimic features of expensive tests but don’t have the same price.
A pregnancy test at the doctor’s office might be the most expensive, if you add the cost of the rest of the visit as well, since pregnancy tests are usually one part of a general workup. You can also go to a lab to have a blood test done, which can cost around 50 dollars. Some labs may charge more or less.
Some women’s health centers may provide low-cost or free pregnancy tests, especially places that are intended to promote women’s reproductive health. These tests are usually only urine tests, but non-expired tests are just as reliable as other tests.
Where Can I Find Cheaper Pregnancy Tests?
If you’re looking for cheap pregnancy tests, the best places to look are stores that typically sell products for less. You could check to see if your health insurance covers the cost of your pregnancy test or if you need to co-pay if you visit the doctor’s office.
Finding a Product That Fits Your Budget
If you have a missed period, it’s important to find a pregnancy test that is both cost-effective and reliable. Fortunately, most pregnancy tests tend to be accurate, as long as you follow the instructions and use a non-expired test.
The cost of a pregnancy test will vary depending on where you get it, what brand it is, and what features it has. Although some tests can be more accurate than others, false readings are rare if you follow the directions.
Pregnancy is an exciting process, but there are a lot of changes that come with it. If you’re looking for helpful resources on what you need during pregnancy, or what happens during pregnancy, check out our blog.
Home Pregnancy Tests: Can You Trust The Results? | Mayo Clinic
Pregnancy Tests: How They Work, Types & Accuracy | Ceveland Clinic