Pregnancy Home > False-Positive Pregnancy Test

In rare cases, a woman may get a positive result from her home pregnancy test even though she's not actually pregnant. This is known as a false positive. False positives happen for many reasons, such as not following the instructions properly, contaminating the test, or using a defective test. The best way to know for sure is to get a blood test done at your doctor's office.

What Is a False Positive?

One morning you step into the bathroom and take a pregnancy test. You see two pink lines, and you can hardly believe your eyes! You could either be ecstatic or a little apprehensive. Is this real? It could be, but there is also a slim chance that you are looking at a false-positive result -- when your pregnancy test says you're pregnant, but you really aren't.
The best way to be sure you are pregnant after taking a home pregnancy test (HPT) is to make an appointment with your doctor for a blood test. If the blood test comes back positive, you're pregnant. If the blood test comes back negative, you have gotten a false positive from the HPT.

How Does This Happen?

False-positive results are rare, but there are a number of different reasons they could happen, such as:
Not following the directions: Sure, you read the directions, but did you follow them right down to the last detail? It seems easy to do, but every brand has different directions and some aren't as easy as they seem. Some might tell you to read the results after 3 minutes, or 5 minutes, or even 10 minutes. Do it! If you read a 3-minute test at 10 minutes, you might get a false-positive result. These tests are only accurate for a certain period of time.
A very faint second line that shows up after the recommended time could be an evaporation line. Don't confuse this with a positive result. So don't go digging in the garbage for a second look later on; it will most likely be wrong. If you happened to buy an extra HPT, reread the directions and test again.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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