You are currently viewing Confused About an Invalid Pregnancy Test? Here is What You Need to Know and Next Steps

No matter how accurate a pregnancy test is, there is always room for errors to occur, and while you take a test, your major concern is the accuracy of the given result. You should know how long the pregnancy test takes to produce a result and how you should use it for accurate results.

One can make many mistakes before taking a test, such as consuming a large amount of water right before a test or a test before their first missed period. This can result in false tests. An invalid test result can be due to some reasons, of which user error is the most common.

How do Pregnancy Tests work?

A pregnancy test detects a hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin hormone) in the urine. The hormone is produced by the body, precisely the placenta, after the implantation process of the embryo in the uterus wall. Since the hormone is only produced during pregnancy, it is the best indication of a positive pregnancy.

When should you take the Pregnancy Test?

If you take a test before your first period, there are more chances for the test to give false positives, as the hCG concentration may not be enough to be detected. Hence, ideally, one should wait to take the test after their first missed period. Even if you do take a test before your periods, you can get more test strips to check and test every other day. The more amount of hCG present, the more chances of a positive pregnancy would be.

The best time to take a test is early in the morning since, at that time of the day, urine has the highest concentration of hCG. You can still take a test at any time of the day, but you should be careful not to consume large amounts of liquids before taking the tests as it can reduce the hCG concentration or, more like, dilute the urine, making it difficult for the test to detect hCG.

Causes of an Invalid Pregnancy Test Result

Having an invalid pregnancy test result can be frustrating and confusing for expecting mothers. Usually, it is the incorrect timing that causes an error in the tests. Everybody is different, and everybody reacts differently, showing different characteristics. Likewise, different women can produce different amounts of hCG, which may or may not be detectable.

Some common causes of invalid pregnancy test results are as follows:

Not Waiting Long Enough:

The best way to use the pregnancy test strip is by following the instructions given on its package. There are two lines on a pregnancy test, a controlled and a test line, of which the controlled line appears whether you’re pregnant or not while the test line appears only when it’s positive. Now you should know that if the test is positive, you’ll get to see two lines, and in case you’re not, only a single line would appear.

As directed on the product box, you should wait for the given amount of time which is about 2-3 minutes, after dipping the test strip in the urine. You can note the time by using a watch or a timer.

Waiting too Long:

This is the complete opposite of what was previously mentioned. You might take the test and put it aside while you prepare for the daily routine and plan on checking it after you’re ready, but you should know that these tests become invalid after the ideal window time which is about 5 minutes. It is better to see the results within the given time window.


The box of the test comes with neat and clear instructions on how to use the product. Usually, visual detail is also given in order to avoid any confusion, but since every product is different depending on the brand, the instructions must be read before use. However, the general principle of all is the same.

The general or basic instructions are as follows:

  • The is preferably to be used early in the morning but can be used at any time of the day.
  • Take the test and remove its cap
  • Put the absorbent side of the test in the urine for about 5 seconds until completely wet
  • Lay down the stick with its result face upwards and wait for 3 minutes until the result appears
  • After 3 minutes check the test for results

The Results:

The 3 possible outcomes of the test are

  • Single line
  • 2 lines
  • Invalid

If the test was carried out properly, the possible outcomes should be out of the first two. Keep in mind that the result must be checked within the time duration given.

Single line = Not pregnant

If only a single line is seen in the control window and no line appears in the test window, it indicates that you are not pregnant. If you still haven’t got your period, you should consider taking the test again after a few days.

2 lines = Pregnant

The two lines that appear are a controlled line, which is regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not and a test line which appears when you are pregnant. The test line could be faint or clear depending on the amount of hCG or the concentration of hCG detected.

Invalid Result:

If no line has been shown within the time window the result is called an invalid result. The result can also be invalid if a single line appears in the control band. In such a situation, a test should be re-taken by following the proper procedure.

Other Reasons that can Affect Test Results:

Other reasons can affect pregnancy test results. The results can be shown as a false negative or a false positive. What is a false negative? A false negative is when you are pregnant, but the test shows a negative result under some circumstances or errors. For example, if you take a test too early for the hCG to be detected, the results can be negative when you’re pregnant. Some things that can affect your test results are as follows:

  • Fertility drugs: Some fertility drugs can contain hCG, which usually clears out 2 weeks after the injection.
  • A recent miscarriage: a false-positive result can be shown until a few weeks after your recent pregnancy or miscarriage as hCG was produced during the time you were pregnant.
  • Medical conditions: Some medical conditions can result in abnormal production of hCG, such as in ovarian tumors. The condition can occur even if you’re in a period of menopause. Although rare, you should consult your doctor if you think you are suffering from such conditions.

What to do after Getting the Results:

In case of a Positive Result:

Once you see your positive result, make an appointment with your doctor for confirmation and the best guidelines for you and your baby.

In Case of an Unwanted Positive Result:

if your test came out positive but you don’t wish to have a family yet, you can go to your doctor for consultation as they are there to help you out. It is best to go as early as possible for the best options that can go through. It can be stressful, but it is best to stay calm and start off with the process.

In Case of a Negative Result:

Seeing a negative test result when you were really hoping for a positive one can be an emotional blow to the expecting mother. In such cases, you can wait, and if you still don’t get your period, you can go for another test.

The Takeaway:

Pregnancy is emotional for the expecting parents. You may expect a positive result but it turns out to be negative or you may be blessed as the two lines show up on your test strip. Both of these can be overwhelming. From the above discussion, you should be able to carry out the test in the correct manner for accurate results and avoid invalidity that can leave you confused.

Educate yourself regarding the matter and visit your doctor for professional advice whether you are pregnant or trying to conceive or have an unwanted pregnancy.

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