In the UK alone there is a bewildering variety of pregnancy tests. Go online and there are even more. But which ones are the best and what give the clearest lines?
I aim to find out for you.
Yes Firstly it comes down to you and your body. I chatted to a woman in my local Superdrug while the two of us awkwardly stood next to each other in the pregnancy test aisle where she told me she never tested positive on First Response early tests until a week after her period was due, which blew my mind as they are my go to early test. Everyone’s bodies are different.
Secondly, while tests are roughly the same, they are all different sensitivities and some are more or less sensitive than they claim on the packet. You may notice a number on the side of the tests which will show from 10-100mIU/hCG
What does this mean? hCG is the hormone your body produces when you’re pregnant. The number refers to the measurement of HCG that the pregnancy test can pick up in your urine. So a test with a sensitivity of 10mIU/hCG will pick up a line before a test measuring 25mIU/hCG. In theory.
Cheaper tests tend to use less dye on the test (they are cheaper for a reason) however, so don’t be alarmed if you test on a cheapie and you only get a faint line. A line is a line. Which leads me to…..
Warning – Evap lines!
Evaporation lines can occur on certain brands of tests. Forums show the curved FRER and some of the Sainsbruy’s tests show evap lines or false positives. Personally, even though I have tested some of them I always buy tests with a red dye to be sure I minimise the risk of an evap. If the line is faint and has colour – it’s a positive. If it is greyish you most likely have an Evap line. Test again with FMU the next day.
Many of us test early when we’re TTC. I had a positive at 7DPO one month which was a crazy impulse test but this is still pretty rare. While it’s exciting to find out, in theory you have a lot longer to wait for your scan and the risk of chemical pregnancies are still 1/6 for people who test before their period is due. If you’re nervous, worried or just don’t want to risk it always test the day after you period is due. You also don’t need to test in the morning if you wait until this time.
I tested one of each of the below tests using the FMU on the day after my period was due (you don’t need to use FMU after your period is due btw but I wanted maximum results) using the same urine sample for all tests and taking a picture at the maximum time limit that the test asked for in the same light. I decided to go for a dip test (tip – you often get much more accurate results by dipping the test. Yes peeing in a cup is a little gross but come on, you’re trying to have a baby girls – it’s going to get a lot worse than this!).
Each test has a different time to be dipped and read so please always read the instructions! From the FRER which is dipped for 5 seconds to the One Step which can be dipped for 20 seconds, you get a wide variety of techniques.
Tesco home brand pregnancy test – 25mIU/hCG, £3.50 for 2
Co-operative – 25mIU/hCG, £3.25 for 2
Sainsbury’s – 25mIU/hCG, £3.95 for 2 (blue)
B&M strip- 20mIU/hCG, 99p for 3
B&M stick – 25mIU/hCG, £2.30 for 2
Boots – 50mIU/hCG, £4.99 for 2
Superdrug 6 days early – 10mIU/hCG, £6.49 for 2) – they also do a value test at £4.79 for 2)
First Result 6 days early (FRER) – 10mIU/hCG, from £7.99 for 2 on Ebay or £10.50 in stores
Clearblue easy – 20mIU/hCG, £10.99 for two in stores
Clearblue digital – 20mIU/hCG, from £11.00 for 2 on Ebay or £13.99 for 2 in stores
One Step strip – 10mIU/hCG, £3.50 for 10 strips on ebay
The ‘Early’ Tests
One Step Strip – Score: 6/10
So cheap! And they took only 2 days to get to me. Brilliant for a POAS addict.
One step claim to have a sensitivity of 10mIU/hCG. Having used these strips earlier in my cycle this month I can happily debunk this myth. While I managed to get a faint result on a FRER and a Superdrug Sensitive test at 7DPO, One Step wasn’t even registering anything until 12DPO which I would expect from a strip measuring 20mIU/hCG or more. So not for early testers. If you like seeing progression or just want to keep an eye on things however these are the tests for you.
They are also not ideal if you want to test anywhere but at home due to the need to dip the test in urine. Guilty as charged for sometimes taking my wee pot with me however…..
First Result Early Result (flat design) – Score: 10/10
Ergonomic design with a large test dip stick, easy to use and with a very fast result. Don’t read them after 3 minutes however if testing early. This pregnancy I picked up a positive at 9DPO.
They are in the pricier range of tests. They aren’t good for progression as they are very sensitive (however have fun watching the control line become lighter than the test line further on) and the curved FRER is notorious now on boards for giving horrible evap lines. Steer clear of anything but the flat variety (see below).
Superdrug Early Pregnancy Test – 6/10
Reasonable for two over the counter tests (although not that much less than two brand tests bought online) they are considered to be highly sensitive and picked up a positive at 7DPO for me.
Whether they use less dye as people who test early expect a lighter line I’m not sure but the line was pretty wimpy when I tested later on. The window is also impossibly small and hard to read a faint line. Many women find they have to break the test open which will often invalidate it. Frankly, I can’t be doing with tiny windows so although a lot of women swear by them they lost a lot of points with me just for that. I can’t fault the early result however.
The Blue dye tests
Tesco own Pregnancy test – 7/10
A good cheap and reliable test. While the line wasn’t as dark as the Sainsbury’s or Clearblue test, it still gave a good strong line.
I wouldn’t use this test early as you’d find the line a real squinter to read. Also it’s a blue dye test so ‘ware evaporation lines! I’ve marked it down for being a blue test and also for having quite a wishy washy line.
Clearblue Easy – 8/10
A pink tip when saturated with urine? Useless, but novel. Result came up right away and was nice and strong. Well-designed test for dipping or using mid stream.
However other than that I have very little that I found wrong with this test other than the result was identicle to the Sainsbury’s test. My advice is, if you’re testing early get this one. If you’re testing on or around your period due date, go Sainsbury’s.
Sainsbury’s own Pregnancy test – 7/10
The supermarkets do it again – cheap and easy to use. Came up with just as strong result as the branded test.
Some forums have been showing nasty evaps from these tests which look positive and turn out to be negative. Test on the date of your period and stick to a branded test for early testing.
B&M strip – 8/10
Like Poundland own tests these are cheap and can be picked up on the high street instead of ordered via Ebay. The result came up quickly. While it wasn’t as dark as the others it was still a definite positive.
Again, messy and useless for mid stream use. Use to show progression or when testing on or around your period but not for early detection. The faint line could put a lot of people off early.
B&M stick – 8/10
A mid-stream designed red test. Possibly easier to dip than for mid-stream use however. These tests are cheap and reliable and quick to pick up if you have a local B&M.
Actually I have very few cons for this test. I didn’t try this early so I can’t really comment on whether it should be used for early testing but anything from 12-13DPO should pick up a line maybe even earlier.
Clearblue digital with weeks estimator – 9/10
No squinting – just pee and go! Gives you a week estimator as well if you’re so confused you don’t know when you ovulated or had a period. It’s also not bad for moderate early testing often picking pregnancies up at 12-13dpo.
The price! They are expensive. The internet is also strewn with worried women who haven’t got as high a date as they feel they should have. If you’re worried by your result please see this study on the tests – they are by no means as accurate as they say and shouldn’t be used to measure HCG. If you don’t want to know stick to another brand digital that will just tell you Yes or No.
Boots own pregnancy test – 4/10
Easy to buy while out and about but then Boots also stock plenty of brand tests
Horrible small window, cheap feeling test and not all that reasonable at the cost. I’m afraid this was my least favourite test. Absolutely not for early testing.
Co-operative – 7/10
Easy to pick up in your local store and very reasonable! Mid-stream design so easy to use while on the go.
Small window again and slow to come up with a result. The line was also not very strong compared to other similar tests but did the job and was really cheap!
Claire’s top picks
Early testing – FRER
Testing on the day of period – B&M solid test/Clearblue Easy
For fun – Clearblue Digital Weeks Estimator
For progression – One Step Test Strips
Can pregnancy tests predict a miscarriage?
Controversially, yes and no. While I have had a pregnancy on the way out but have still be testing fairly high on tests, some studies feel that testing on day 20 and having a weak test result can indeed help predict an early miscarriage. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7832673
Of course, miscarriages happen for many reasons and it isn’t good for anyone (believe me) to be testing every day for 2 months until the 12 week scan.
So my advice is put the tests down. Relax if you can. Enjoy being pregnant and look forward to that scan where you’ll meet your baby!
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