You’ve just received a text from your wife, or she has just called you at work. At first, you don’t think too much of it. Your wife texting you at work isn’t anything out of the ordinary, and it probably isn’t anything that can’t wait another few minutes before break. But the texts keep coming, again and again and again. Finally, you give in and look at your phone to see three simple words:
“It was positive.”
How do you react to the news?
If it’s joy, then mazel tov.
If it’s panic, well, then, calm down – that positive pregnancy test may not be what it appears.
A positive pregnancy test should always be a source of joy – not panic.
Whether you’re visiting the best fertility clinic in Bangkok or consulting a home test, here are a few reasons that an unexpected positive pregnancy test might actually be a false positive.
How Pregnancy Tests Work
First, it’s worth taking a moment to examine how pregnancy tests work. Most home pregnancy tests are what are commonly known as “dipsticks.” These sticks typically contain chemicals which, when brought into contact with urine, typically produce coloring that tells you whether or not you are pregnant. This is due to the fact that, when you are early in your pregnancy, your urine can contain human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG.)
Chemically-Based False Positives
Home tests are hugely popular for a reason. They give you a quick and easy first indication as to whether or not you are pregnant. That being said, there’s a reason that it’s a first indication and not the final say, as these tests can be fallible, with chemical-based false positives being a prime examine why. For example, you may have a false pregnancy because an egg is technically fertilized but does not actually grow or take. This can still result in hCG being released, though, which in turn can cause that false positive. In addition, these types of false positives resulting from a fertilized egg not growing or taking can arise in part due to other hormones, such as progesterone, being low. False positives can also arise for chemical reasons resulting from conditions that have nothing to do with pregnancy, with some prominent examples being:
- Tissue which has been scarred
- A uterine anomaly arising from an irregularly-shaped uterus or other congenital condition
In addition to pregnancies that don’t take because the egg in question does not grow, there are also pregnancies that might not take because the egg attaches itself to a place that is not amenable to its growing. This is exactly what happens in the case of ectopic pregnancies. These types of pregnancies involve a fertilized egg attaching itself away from the main cavity of the uterus. Here again, hCG can still be released, even though the pregnancy itself is not viable. Different things can cause ectopic pregnancy, with some of the most prominent examples being:
- Irregularly shaped fallopian tubes
- A uterine infection or past history of them
An ectopic pregnancy can be hazardous to your health. You will want to contact your physician if you suspect that you are experiencing one or have done so recently. Some symptoms include:
- Sore breasts
- Nausea and dizziness, possibly resulting in fainting
- Rectal pressure
- Vaginal spotting
It is more important than ever before to be informed about your rights regarding abortions, as well as how they can affect your body. You will want to take the time to seek advice from a medical professional about safe abortions.
Both abortions and miscarriages can be responsible for false pregnancies. hCG levels rise from the start of your pregnancy before peaking around the ten week period. If you have had an abortion or miscarriage recently, this could result in a false pregnancy result. hCG can remain in your blood, as well as your urine, for as much as six weeks after having an abortion or miscarriage. In the case of a miscarriage, if it was sudden, remnants of the pregnancy-related tissue may still be in your body, which in turn may be responsible for the elevated hCG levels. If this happens, you may require a minor surgical procedure to remove the extant tissue, so be sure to check with your doctor.
Making mistakes is all part of the human condition. Making a mistake about something this big can be horrifying or humorous (depending on your state of mind), but it is nevertheless possible. In particular, user error for home pregnancy tests can be significant because those using the tests typically aren’t medical professionals. You may want to get things just right, and you might well earnestly try to follow the instructions, but the possibility of human error still looms large. That being said, user error is not strictly restricted to home usage – even the best-trained fertility clinics can make mistakes from time to time.
Some of the most common types of user error with respect to using dipsticks include:
- Testing too early in your cycle, which can produce both false negatives as well as positives
- Testing when your urine is too diluted with water
- Testing improperly by leaving the dipstick in your urine stream for too long or not long enough
Medication Mix Ups
Then there are false positives which can be the result of one of your existing medications tampering with the results of the test. This is one of the reasons that it is always important to give your doctor a full list of the medications that you are taking when if you visit their office. They will be able to tell if one or more of your medications could have possibly caused a false positive. Some of the most prominent examples of medications that can cause a false positive include:
- Certain anti-anxiety medications
- Fertility medications such as Novarel, Pregnyl, Ovidrel, or Profasi
- Parlodel, a common Parkinson’s treatment
If you’ve received a positive pregnancy test out of the blue, hard as it may be, your first impulse shouldn’t be to panic. There are many things that might have caused that result. Take the time to schedule an appointment with your doctor to figure out what’s going on with your body.