8 Best Pregnancy Tests and How to Use Them

Noticing some early pregnancy symptoms? It might be time to take a pregnancy test! Here are the best pregnancy test sticks, test strips, digital pregnancy tests, and "early detection" tests on the market today.

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The suspense is killing you: Could you be expecting a baby? If you think you might be pregnant, it's probably time to buy a home pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests work by testing your urine for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)—a hormone that your body only produces during pregnancy.

There are two types of pregnancy tests you can take at home: traditional tests that reveal a line that shows up only If hCG is detected in your urine and digital tests, that will deliver a digital reading if a sensor picks up the hCG. Wondering which kind of pregnancy test might be best for you? Read on for some of our recommendations for the best pregnancy tests, when to take a home pregnancy test, and what to look for.

When Should you Take a Home Pregnancy Test?

So here's the thing about taking a home pregnancy test: in order for that test to turn positive if you are pregnant, it needs to detect enough hCG in your urine to turn the test positive. But your body can't start producing hCG until a fertilized embryo implants into your uterine wall, a process that takes approximately 6-10 days after conception.

And then once the embryo does attach itself to the uterine wall, it can still take several days for hCG levels to rise enough to produce a positive test result. Plus, every person is different, bodies are different, and factors like how sensitive the test is, how diluted your urine is, and how correctly you tracked your cycle can impact the accuracy of a pregnancy test.

In general, most home pregnancy tests can be taken around 3-4 days before your missed period, but if you're not 100% sure of your conception timeline or if you tend to have longer cycles or ovulation patterns, it's always best to wait until the day of your expected period or even after. (Easier said than done, we know!)

But it's important to know that if you test too early, you're more likely to get a false negative, where the test says you're not pregnant but you really are, says Laurence Cole, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and chief of women's health research at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. It's best to wait until after missing your period for the most accurate results.

Best Pregnancy Tests
Courtesy of Amazon

Whichever pregnancy test you buy, take it first thing in the morning, when hCG levels are most concentrated in your urine. If the results are negative, try again in a few days if your period's still MIA.

If you get a positive result within the timeframe the test says (and always read the instructions and follow them exactly!)—usually indicated by a faint line, a plus sign, or the word "pregnant"—chances are you're indeed expecting a baby. Remember, you only make hCG when you're pregnant, so the test can't pick up a hormone that's not there.

If you're not convinced, you can wait a day or two and test again, just in case you've experienced a rare phenomenon known as a false positive. (Oftentimes, these are due to an error like reading the test too early or too late, the dye running, or a test malfunctioning.) If the results are positive again, congrats!

Thinking about buying a home pregnancy test? Check out our round-up of the best pregnancy tests available, including pregnancy stick tests, pregnancy test strips, digital pregnancy tests, and "early detection" pregnancy tests.

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1. First Response Early Result

First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test
Courtesy of Amazon

This bestselling product tops our list as the best pregnancy test for early detection. It's sensitive enough to give results 6 days before your missed period (with varying degrees of accuracy, given that hCG levels increase at different rates for each person). After your missed period, accuracy increases to 99%. Results are ready in 3 minutes, and they're relatively easy to read: 2 lines mean you're pregnant, and 1 line means you're not pregnant. Many users also love the ergonomic curvy handle that's easy to place in their urine stream.

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2. Clearblue Rapid Detection

First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test
Courtesy of Amazon

Clearblue claims to offer "the easiest pregnancy testing experience" with their Rapid Detection test. After missing your period, you can get results in as little as 1 minute—with 99% accuracy! It can also be taken up to 5 days before your missed period with slightly less precision. The Clearblue pregnancy test is designed to decrease user error with "Floodguard Technology" (which prevents urine from getting inside) and a wide absorbent tip. The plus (+) for pregnant or minus (-) for a negative result is also simple to understand.

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3. ClinicalGuard HCG Pregnancy Test Strips

ClinicalGuard® HCG Pregnancy Test Strips
Courtesy of Amazon

These no-frills pregnancy test strips are a budget-friendly choice for couples trying to conceive, because they're available in handy bulk packs. To use, simply dip the strip into a cup of urine (you can also hold it underneath your urine stream, but this method could get messy and obscure results as well). Negative results are characterized by 1 pink-dyed color band appearing, while positive results have 2 distinct color bands.

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4. Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown

Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown
Courtesy of Amazon

Taking a pregnancy test is certainly nerve-racking, but this product makes it a little more bearable. A flashing on-screen timer counts down to the result, which usually comes within 3 minutes. What's more, the results are displayed in words as "pregnant" or "not pregnant," so there's little room for confusion. The Clearblue digital test can be taken 5 days before your missed period with varying degrees of accuracy; the effectiveness increases to 99% from the day you expect your period.

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5. Easy@Home Pregnancy Test Strips

Courtesy of Amazon
Easy@Home Pregnancy Test Strips

These test strips couldn't be easier to use. Just dip a strip in your urine, wait for the dye to rise to the window, and read the results in 3 to 5 minutes. Two lines indicate you're expecting a baby, while 1 line means you aren't pregnant. This best home pregnancy test gives accurate results 1 day before your expected period.

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6. First Response Triple Check Pregnancy Test

First Response Triple Check Pregnancy Test
Courtesy of Amazon

You want peace of mind when finding out if you're expecting. That's why First Response Triple Check includes 3 separate tests in one box. The Early Result Pregnancy Test can detect pregnancy up to 6 days before your missed period, with varying levels of accuracy. The Digital Pregnancy Test is easy to read, and the Rapid Result Pregnancy Test shows results in one minute. Each has its advantages, and when paired together in this variety pack, they give you more reassurance.

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7. Wondfo Pregnancy Test Strips

Wondfo Pregnancy Test Strips
Courtesy of Amazon

This best pregnancy test option comes in a convenient pack of 25 individually-packaged strips—perfect for couples who expect to take plenty of tests when trying to conceive! To use, dip the test in urine for about 3 seconds, then wait 3 to 5 minutes for results. One line means you're not expecting, and 2 lines indicate pregnancy. When taken after your missed period, the Wondfo tests have 99% accuracy.

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8. Natalist Pregnancy Test

Natalist Pregnancy Tests

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This standard stick test can work 5 days before your expected period—but like other tests, waiting a few more days can give you 99% accuracy. After peeing on the stick, lines will show up in the square control window within 5 minutes. Two lines (even a faint one) means you're pregnant, and one line means you're not. And here's some added bonuses: the pregnancy test is 100% plastic neutral, and the instructions are super clear without technical wording!

Additional reporting by Nicole Harris
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