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Cheap pregnancy tests can be as accurate as those that are more expensive, but this isn’t always the case. The deciding factor on whether a brand name, generic or even doctor-administered urine test will test true depends on the sensitivity level of the test when it evaluates human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels. Usually, no urine test is as accurate as getting a blood test, especially early in a pregnancy. The various brand name, doctor, or cheap pregnancy tests on the market have different hCG detection capabilities, which means one test doesn’t always directly compare to another.
In order to get a true positive reading in very early pregnancy, women require a test that can detect hCG at fairly low levels. This won’t always be possible with cheap pregnancy tests. A few brand-name tests can detect this hormone if it is present at a level of 12.5 million international units per milliliter (mIU/ml) and these brands may heavily advertise their ability to detect pregnancy early, usually before the first missed period. Most other pregnancy tests don’t detect pregnancy until hCG is at about 20 to 25 mIU/ml, and some may not even read positive unless hCG levels in urine are at least 100 mIU/ml.
Manufacturers of pregnancy tests, whether they are cheap pregnancy tests or those made by better known companies that charge more, often don’t feel compelled to tell consumers how sensitive their tests are, at least not by listing mIU/ml hCG detection rates. They may give some clues about how well they’ll work by stating when the test should be performed. Most tests won’t work before a period has truly been missed because they’re just not that sensitive.
Women who are interested can easily find out precise detection levels of any tests by looking them up on the Internet. They can also call a manufacturer before buying a test to decide if it is the right one or the most accurate one available within a certain price range. Sometimes good insurance leads to free or cheap pregnancy tests at a doctor’s office instead, and these are more accurate. Many people with insurance don’t pay for laboratory testing, and certainly the most accurate test sensitively evaluates blood serum levels of hCG.
The issue of hCG sensitivity and cheap pregnancy tests becomes increasingly less of a concern with the progression of a pregnancy. As a pregnancy continues, hCG levels skyrocket, and they’re generally detected easily by any test on the market. Since most of these tests employ the same technology, there’s usually no advantage to buying a more expensive test in terms of accuracy, unless interest is in verifying pregnancy within a few days of conception.
I've seen pregnancy tests at the dollar store, and I always wondered how accurate they are. I guess, for a dollar, a woman can always get another one if she doubts the results of the first one, but what if one shows positive and the other shows negative?
While it's probably not necessary to buy the most expensive brand on the market, I'd say in this case, you're probably more apt to get what you pay for. I don't know that I'd want to take the result of a $1 test as the last word on whether I was actually pregnant or not.
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