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HCG Pregnancy Tests: Blood Test vs Urine Test

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

This article is Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

When you’ve missed your period, the only thing you want to know is whether you’re pregnant or not. That’s why it’s a good thing that home hCG pregnancy tests nowadays can swiftly provide you with answers.

However, there are occasions wherein the result of the pregnancy test is unreliable. This is mostly associated with urine pregnancy tests you can buy in drug stores. As a result, your obstetrician may opt to order a blood test.

Is Blood Pregnancy Test More Accurate Than Urine Test?

The need for a blood pregnancy test raises the question of whether it is more accurate than a urine test.

Simply put, a blood test is deemed to be more accurate and conclusive than a urine pregnancy test. It is more sensitive than a urine test. It detects hCG even in small amounts as opposed to a urine test that requires a substantial concentration.

Nonetheless, the higher degree of accuracy in a blood test does not necessarily diminish that of a urine test when it comes to detecting pregnancy. 

It’s only a matter of which one suits you best based on factors such as the regularity of your menstrual cycle, hormone imbalance, and other fertility issues.

Learn if a urine test is enough for you to uncover pregnancy or should you take the blood test instead.

Early Symptoms of Pregnancy

attractive woman holding her stomach happy about being pregnant

Naturally, before deciding to take a pregnancy test, you may have observed signs and symptoms suggestive of pregnancy. It could even be more justifiable if you are trying to conceive or are sexually active. 

These early symptoms of pregnancy commonly include the following:

  1.  Missed Period
  2. Spotting
  3. Swollen and Tender Breasts
  4. Fatigue
  5. Frequent Urination
  6. Morning Sickness
  7. Smell Sensitivity
  8. Food Aversions
  9. Increased Heart Rate
  10. Heartburn

It is important to understand that these symptoms may or may not be observed. Not all women are bound to have the same experience when it comes to pregnancy. 

Furthermore, the majority of these symptoms are closely similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Thereby, a pregnancy test is vital to confirm that these conditions are in fact pregnancy-related. 

Urine Test

A urine pregnancy test kit is the go-to device when pregnancy symptoms, especially a missed period, manifest. It only takes 1-3 minutes for you to confirm pregnancy from a few drops of urine on the dipstick or test strip.

A common indication of a positive pregnancy test is the appearance of a colored streak on the test line. Others will give a positive or plus sign while digital pregnancy tests will show the words pregnant or not pregnant. 

Nevertheless, the mechanism behind the testing is basically the same.

A.      How It Works?

To determine if a woman is pregnant, a typical pregnancy test will detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is only produced by cells surrounding a growing embryo. Hence, it is an effective marker for pregnancy. 

As the prenatal period progresses, hCG is deposited in higher concentrations in the urine.   

If you’re wondering if a urine pregnancy test is enough to determine your pregnancy, here are some of its advantages and disadvantages you can refer to.  

B.      Pros

1.     A urine pregnancy test is readily available in stores.

You can choose from a variety of brands and types when it comes to urine pregnancy tests. Buy them in drug stores or even order them online. No doctor’s order is necessary.

2.     It produces a fast result.

If you’re trying to conceive or may have just missed your period, there’s a lot of waiting involved. But it’s not necessarily the same case with a urine pregnancy test. 

Depending on the brand, you can see the result in only a matter of minutes. Some kits detect hCG within one minute, others about ten minutes.

3.     It has cheaper options.

In an economical sense, you can benefit from inexpensive pregnancy kits. It gives you the option to spend less on a home pregnancy test. You can buy as cheap as a dollar.

However, cheap urine pregnancy tests may not be the best if you’re aiming for accuracy. This is because some low-cost kits may not be as sensitive as the expensive ones. 

Although, as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it still holds a certain degree of validity. 

C.      Cons

1.     It can be prone to inaccuracy.

Urine pregnancy tests may show inaccurate results known as a false positive or false negative. There are certain factors that influence these outcomes.

False Positive 

As the name suggests, a false positive is getting a result suggestive of pregnancy when in fact you are not. You may get a false positive in cases such as the following:

1.     Misreading the Evaporation Line

Sometimes if you read the test hours after the recommended time frame, a second faint line which is commonly colorless or greyish might show up. 

Whether you feel disappointed or excited, unfortunately, it’s only an evaporation line resulting from the test reaction with urine evaporation. It does not indicate pregnancy. An evaporation line could also occur in kits with defects.

2.     Chemical Pregnancy

There are cases in which a woman’s egg cell may have been fertilized but the embryo failed to grow or implant in the uterus. This condition is called a chemical pregnancy. Naturally, a false positive can occur but after another series of testing, you may get negative results.

3.     Ectopic Pregnancy

After fertilization, an embryo should exit the fallopian tube and head to the uterus for implantation. This is the precursor for a normal pregnancy. 

However, if the embryo fails to exit the fallopian tube or moves to other parts such as the cervix or ovary, it is known as an ectopic pregnancy. This condition requires immediate medical attention as it could be a life-threatening condition if left untreated. 

Nonetheless, a urine pregnancy test will most likely show a false positive as the misplaced embryo will continue to produce hCG.

4.     Medications

Several medications can also induce a positive pregnancy test such as:

  • anti-anxiety medications
  • anticonvulsants
  • antihistamine
  • antipsychotics
  • barbiturates
  • diuretics
  • methadone

Fertility drugs, particularly those that contain HCG to stimulate ovulation, can also lead to a false positive especially if you took the pregnancy test too early.

5.     Health Conditions

In some cases, a medical condition can cause a false positive. Diseases and disorders such as the following have been known to trigger an inaccurate result in a urine pregnancy test.

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Ovarian cyst
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Urinary Tract Infection
False Negative

Between a false positive and a false negative, the latter is a more common occurrence. It incorrectly reads your result as negative for pregnancy when in fact you actually are.

Here are probable causes of a false negative pregnancy test:

1.     Defective Testing Kits

If you use an expired or faulty home pregnancy test kit, there is a chance that you would get a negative result. The chemical that should react with the hCG will most likely be unavailable in an expired strip or stick or insufficient in a defective one.

2.     Multiple Embryos

There is a correlation between having a false negative pregnancy test result with carrying twins or triplets. This is mainly associated with the hook effect or having too much hCG that the chemical fails to react appropriately.

3.     Molar Pregnancy

If an embryo is unviable, it could proceed to grow abnormally in the uterus and develops into a mass instead of a fetus. This condition is referred to as molar pregnancy. 

A woman undergoing this type of pregnancy produces excessive hCG (hook effect) that shows a false negative in a urine pregnancy test.

D.     When Should You Take a Urine Pregnancy Test?

A urine pregnancy test is recommended for every woman who suspects pregnancy. Those who have regular periods with reproductive health issues commonly get the best of using this kind of home test. 

However, if pregnancy symptoms persist even after testing negative, you can certainly go beyond the urine pregnancy test.

Blood Test

An hCG blood test is usually the best solution to confirm pregnancy if the urine test does not give clear answers. Instead of buying several kits, you can just have a blood test performed and find out if you’re pregnant without unnecessary spending.

A.      How It Works?

There are two types of HCG Blood Test: Qualitative and Quantitative.

A qualitative pregnancy blood test determines if hCG is present in the blood while a quantitative pregnancy blood test measures that amount of hCG even in smaller volumes. 

With these pregnancy tests, you will have to draw blood samples and forward them to a nearby laboratory.

B.      Pros

1.     A blood pregnancy test is far more accurate than a urine test.

The concentration of hCG in the blood is higher compared to a urine sample. Thereby, a blood pregnancy test is more accurate than a urine test. If your priority is the exactitude of the result, then your best choice is to take an hCG pregnancy blood test.

2.     It is best for early testing.

Since a blood test is more sensitive than a urine test, you can get exact results as early as the first day of your missed period. 

In some cases, a blood test can detect pregnancy even before symptoms show up. Unlike a urine pregnancy test, it doesn’t require large amounts of hCG to confirm pregnancy.

3.     You can order it online.

Here’s something not every woman knows about getting a home pregnancy blood test. You can actually order them online and draw samples on your own. 

Companies like Personalabs have blood tests for pregnancy which you can buy online. You will be guided from purchase to going into to the designated laboratory for testing. The results will take 24 hours to be posted to your Personalabs account. It’s fast, convenient, and accurate.

C.      Cons

1.     It can take longer for results to show up compared to a urine test.

Since it requires careful analysis, it may take some time before you can get a result as opposed to a urine test which yields results in minutes. The results will take 24 hours to be posted to your Personalabs account. Nonetheless, the brief wait is worthwhile considering the level of precision the result has.

2.     It’s not readily available in most drug stores.

Several brands of home pregnancy blood tests are available in selected drug stores. Despite its reputation for accuracy, most women still prefer the urine pregnancy test because it shows faster results, and the testing process is less painful. 

In turn, some drug stores don’t bother to have blood pregnancy tests on their shelves. Nonetheless, you can buy them online which is even more convenient.

D.     When Should You Take a Blood Pregnancy Test?

If you wish to take a blood pregnancy test and skip the traditional urine test, then, by all means, do so. When it comes to testing, accuracy is still the most vital priority. 

If you’re having trouble with the results of the urine pregnancy test or if you have irregular periods or reproductive health issues, then the pregnancy blood test is your best option.

In a Nutshell

couple holding each other happy about baby in stomach.

Knowing whether you’re pregnant or not can be emotionally draining. If there’s a way to find the real deal about your pregnancy-related symptoms, then save yourself from anxiety and go for it. 

This is why an hCG blood test is recommended over a urine test. You can rest assured that you have gotten the right result. Order an hCG pregnancy blood test online move forward to the next steps

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