Pregnancy tests are one of those items where it seems like you couldn’t really do that much wrong. Unfortunately, there are a lot of inferior products out there which can ring back with a false results and knowing which is which gets hard. The best early pregnancy tests are always going to be the ones which are simple to use and allow you to know if you’re expecting early on in your pregnancy.
We found the best of the best to be the First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test, it’s simple to use, affordable, and readily available which puts it at the forefront of those we looked at.
We’ve put together a list of our five winners, and while we normally encourage you to find exactly the right item for yourself… we’d strongly recommending trusting one or two of these instead of heading off-script in this instance.
If early pregnancy detection is what you’re looking for, then the First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test is exactly what you’ve been looking for. It’s cheap, reliable, and it’ll help you know before any other test.
Top 5 Early Pregnancy Tests
|First Response||Standard Test||5/5||Check Price|
|Clearblue Rapid Detection||Standard Test||4.5/5||Check Price|
|Clearblue Digital||Digital Test||4/5||Check Price|
|Easy@Home 25||Test Strip||4/5||Check Price|
|ClinicalGuard® HCG||Test Strip||3.5/5||Check Price|
1. Best Early Pregnancy Test
First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test
First Response has a sterling reputation, and their early pregnancy test is the only one on the market we found to consistently work before the first day of your period.
It’s simple to use as well, just place it in the stream of urine or a cup for five seconds, pull it out, and wait. It’s shaped well enough to be held if you’re not too squeamish and it’s utterly fantastic for the most part.
It does this by detecting all four of the major forms of hCG, rather than just one. The detection is remarkably accurate, boasting over 99% accuracy for the most part, and many people have found it to be the utter gold standard. This makes them one of the most sensitive pregnancy tests around.
Pros and Cons
- Can detect up to 6 days before most tests
- Tests for all four major forms of hCG
- Easy to use
- Easy to find
- A bit pricey
- Not 99% accurate in the days leading up to your missed period
2. Runner Up for Best Early Pregnancy Test
Clearblue Rapid Detection Pregnancy Test
While it doesn’t have the same level of increased accuracy in the lead-up, the Clearblue Rapid Detection Pregnancy Test maintains a high level of accuracy and might be even easier to use than the First Response test.
It is still fairly accurate up to four days before, however, so it’s definitely still an early detection test. The test is easy to read, has a really ergonomic handle, and also has a wider tip than most which makes it more suitable for “in-stream” tests.
The results can appear in as little as a minute as well, which is nice for those who are already feeling anxious about the result.
While it doesn’t have as early of a detection time, this test from Clearblue is a solid contender for the second best around. You’re not going to be disappointed with the result.
Pros and Cons
- Can read up to four days before a missed period
- Ergonomic handle
- Wide testing strip for easier in-stream tests
- Color changing tip so you know if you did things right
- Can’t detect as early as the First Response test
- Some people have trouble reading the test, look at the instructions
3. Best Digital Pregnancy Test
Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown
If you’re intent on going with a digital model, then we strongly recommend the Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test. It’s simply the best on the market at this point, since unfortunately First Response doesn’t seem to be nearly as good on this front.
This test isn’t just digital, it also features a countdown so you’ll know when to read the results. It’s a nice touch, allowing you to curb the anxiety which sometimes comes with waiting expectantly for your results.
There’s a lot to be said for digital tests, just don’t expect them to be more accurate.
This one is easy to use and even includes a splashguard for those who want to do an in-stream test and are worried about getting urine on their hands.
If you’re looking for a solid digital pregnancy test, then this is the one you’ve been looking for.
Pros and Cons
- Digital and gives answer in words
- Countdown timer to result
- Splashguard for hygienic testing
- Can give early results
- Takes a good amount of time to give results
4. Best Pregnancy Test Strips
Easy@Home 25 Pregnancy (HCG) Urine Test Strips
Strips are handy for those who are trying to conceive, since you don’t have to spend a ton of money on individual tests and you can just purchase them in bulk without having to take care of all of the extra packaging.
While these might be some of the most accurate pregnancy tests on the market, they’re only rated for one day before your missed period. They’re also really simple to use, dip them in urine for a couple of seconds and you’ll quickly have a result.
These come in packs of twenty five, which makes them the most economical option as well as being super accurate. If you need frequent testing while trying to conceive, these are the way to go.
If you’re looking for the best strip type pregnancy test, then you’ll be in good hands with the Easy@Home Urine Test Strips.
Pros and Cons
- Comes with 25 strips
- Over 99% accurate
- Super easy and clean to use
- Great for couples trying to conceive
- Not as “advanced” as other tests
- Not great at early detection
5. Best Budget Pregnancy Tests
ClinicalGuard® HCG Pregnancy Test Strips
If you need to save some money but still need an accurate and fast test, you may want to consider some of these. They’re not quite as accurate as the others on our list, but since there’s a ton of them per box you’ll be in good hands.
These are strip style tests, designed to be discreet and they’re individually packaged so you can easily keep one somewhere in case an accident happens.
They’re a great way to test things out, and since they’re so cheap and individually wrapped people can think of plenty of uses for them. It’s also never a good idea to just test once, so you may want to test every few days to make sure.
If you’re looking to save money on pregnancy tests, then these strips are perfect for you. Pick some up and keep them wherever you might need. They’re the best home pregnancy tests for those who are looking to save some cash.
Pros and Cons
- Individually wrapped
- Super cheap
- 99% accurate
- Can be bought in bulk
- Not good for early detection
- Not quite as accurate as the others on our list
Just How Accurate Are At-Home Pregnancy Tests?
While nothing is perfect, at-home pregnancy tests actually have a remarkably high rate of accuracy when used correctly.
There is a caveat to this: at-home pregnancy tests rarely work before the first day of a missed period. While some specific tests can make the measurements earlier than that, the majority of tests on the market aren’t going to allow you an indication until after you’ve noticed something.
Most tests boast a 99% accuracy rate when they’re used properly… once again provided that they’re used after the first day of a missed period. On the other hand, some tests can give an earlier indication and those were the ones we focused on as our winners.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
Knowing how pregnancy tests work was our first stop in making sure that we only brought those which worked the best to the forefront.
Foremost, pregnancy tests work by detecting a hormone.
In this case, the hormone is called human chorionic gonadotropin(hCG). It can be found in a woman’s body roughly six days after the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. The levels of hCG in the body double roughly every thirty six to forty eight hours for the first ten weeks of the pregnancy.
All pregnancy tests measure the levels of this hormone in order to bring you the result. The problem is whether or not the test in question is going to be able to detect the pregnancy early, only a few at-home tests are sensitive enough to ensure that you know early on in the cycle.
Most aren’t sensitive enough to tell you anything until the first missed day of your period, but a few are sensitive enough to let you know up to a week beforehand.
These are the ones which we focused on, ensuring that early pregnancy detection is possible at home.
The most accurate tests, unfortunately, are blood tests which need to be performed in a doctor’s office. In most cases, however, you won’t be able to receive the results of the test for at least a few days. This time lapse can be vital for many people.
What Can Cause a False Positive?
While false-negatives are a more common error with at-home pregnancy tests, there are quite a few things which can end up causing a false positive.
Both of these errors are problematic, but knowing the causes of a false-positive can keep you abreast of any errors in the testing process.
The following are some of the most common causes of false positives with these tests:
- Evaporation Lines-It’s important to follow the instructions which come with your test. Most tests are the most accurate when read within a four to five minute period, if you leave it and come back later then you may end up with a false positive due to the evaporation of the urine being read. It’s important to make sure you read the test within the proposed time limit to limit the possibility of this error.
- Recent Miscarriage or Abortion-If you’ve had either of these conditions within the last thirty days, then chances are that your hCG levels have yet to return to normal. This is a bit distressing at the best of times, but the real issue with pregnancy tests is that your levels will remain in the range to cause a positive test for up to 35 days after the event.
- Medication-There are a number of medications which can cause a false positive with pregnancy tests. Among the most commonly prescribed are benzodiazepines such as Valium and promethazine, as well as fertility drugs. Consult with your doctor about your medications beforehand if you’re prescribed medications to ensure you aren’t fooled by a false positive.
- User Error-Nothing is ever foolproof, and user error is probably the most common cause of a false positive. Make sure to follow the instructions of your test to the letter in order to minimize the chances of a false positive.
The accuracy of even the most “useless” tests can be maximized by making sure that you know the factors which go into false positives.
Also, it’s important to remember that no matter how faint the line is, the test is positive and indicates a real chance of pregnancy.
False negatives, on the other hand, are usually just caused by the test being used too early in the cycle for there to be appreciable amounts of hCG in your urine. Some women don’t produce enough for at-home tests at all, which is problematic if you’re relying on them as your sole source of information.
Consult with a doctor during your conception efforts for the best overall results.
Digital or Manual?
If you’re unaware, there are two major types of pregnancy test on the market: digital and manual tests.
Manual tests are always going to be a lot cheaper, but there’s a lot more room for error when you’re using them. The “faint line” phenomenon is the best example of this, where it seems to be up in the air whether or not the test is actually positive.
Digital tests are more expensive, but they eliminate this margin for reading error quickly and easily. They also tend to be quite a bit more sensitive than manual tests but that isn’t the rule.
Basically, digital tests are better all the way around in almost every case, but the cost difference is pretty large. You should probably only opt for a manual test if you’re looking to save some money.
That’s not to say that manual models are bad, of course, if you’re a bit further along since the estimated time of reception then they’re perfectly serviceable as long as you’re aware of the problems surrounding them.
Using Your Early Pregnancy Test
The most important thing you can possibly do is to follow the instructions given with your test. While most of the tests have remarkably similar methods, if there’s any deviation then you’re looking at seriously affecting the test.
As a general rule, you’re going to have two different ways of going about it:
- Pee On the Test-Directly urinating on the test is the so-called “midstream” method. Most of our reviewers found this method to be a bit of a pain, as practice peeing on things isn’t generally part of the curriculum even if you’ve got some impressive higher education degrees. The test’s shape also effects whether this will be simple or a messy pain.
- Dipstick Method-Most tests can also be dipped into a cup which you pee in before-hand. This is the favored method for most people, since it avoids getting pee on your hands and you’ll just need to dip it for the same amount of time which you should be catching urine on it.
For obvious reasons, the dipstick method is favored by most women if they know it can be done. It just makes thing a lot easier and cleaner overall, and it works with pretty much every test on the market.
On the other hand, if you’d prefer to just urinate directly on the test for whatever reason then it’s important to look for a pregnancy test which is long and has a comfortable grip so that you can position everything in the right place in order to get the recommended amount of urine on the test.
One thing which many people omit when they use a pregnancy test, is not making sure that they use urine from when it’s most concentrated. As a general rule: the first pee of the day is going to have the best chances of giving you an accurate test, since the excreted hormone will be in the highest concentration at that point.
That’s not to say that things won’t work later in the day, but your best chances are still in the morning. It’s definitely not a great idea to load up on liquid before your test, however, as it can dilute the hormone which will give you a false-negative result.
After this, you’ll need to wait.
While this is generally considered to be the easiest part, there’s a caveat: check the detection time on your test. You’ll want to set a timer, since after a while you’re probably going to be looking at a false positive.
The average detection time of the many tests which our reviewers looked at was around three to five minutes. Whether or not they ended up looking positive in the aftermath was dependent on the tests, but a surprising number of even the best tests ended up looking positive after ten minutes or so, meaning you have a fairly small window in which to get an accurate result.
Basically, if you somehow manage to forget about the test for too long, it’s not going to be accurate.
Maximizing the Accuracy of Your Pregnancy Test
Maximizing the accuracy of a test has quite a bit to do with timing, as well as when you decide to use the test. While our favorite has a pretty good detection time, there’s a pretty steep curve with your average pregnancy test.
Most tests are rated 99% or whatever accuracy on the expected day of your period.
If you’re using one early, then you’re looking at something like the following:
- 25% accuracy six days before your missed period
- 33% accuracy five days before
- 42% accuracy four days before
- 68% accuracy three days before
- 82% accuracy two days before
- 93% accuracy three days before
- 96% accuracy the day of a missed period
- 99%+ the day after
It makes things pretty simple for the woman using the test: your chances of getting things right go up exponentially until the day after a missed period.
Early detection is possible, but you’ll need to be much more careful with what test you end up using. The majority of tests simply aren’t accurate that far out, which is something of a pain.
So, in order to make sure you have the best chances do the following:
- Make sure you’re within the accuracy curve of the brand of pregnancy test you’re using
- Use the first pee in the morning to maximize the hCG content of your urine
- Don’t load up on liquids first, to avoid having to mess with dilutes
Use a specifically designed early pregnancy test if you want the results earlier than the first day of your missed period
With so many pregnancy tests on the market, it’s up to you in order to make sure that you’ve got the best results. Of course, at the end of the day the whole thing isn’t just on the test either: how you use things and how well you follow the instructions included is also going to have a large effect on just how well it performs under real-world usage.
There’s a definite key here: make sure you have the best, and your chances of detecting a pregnancy early on in the cycle will give you the best chance to plan ahead.