Nothing can quite put your mind at ease like a pregnancy test, but which are the best pregnancy tests to buy in the UK? We got the lowdown from Dr. Daniel Cichi, GP and medical advisor at Doctors 4 U and have selected the top pregnancy tests available to buy in the UK so you can know whether you're pregnant or not at the earliest possible opportunity.
How do pregnancy tests work?
It's actually pretty simple!
"Pregnancy tests essentially work by checking your urine for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is a hormone that your body only makes If your pregnant. This hormone is released when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your uterus and when pregnancy begins," explains Dr Cichi.
Home pregnancy tests involve urine look for how much hCG is present in your urine. At-home pregnancy tests usually involve placing drops of urine onto a chemical strip or placing this strip into your urine. The strip then detects hCG and you will need to wait a certain amount of time before the results show in the test window.
How soon can you do a pregnancy test?
"You should wait to take a pregnancy test until the week after your missed period for an accurate result as this is when the test will be most reliable. If you are pregnant your body needs time to develop the HCG hormone, so it can be detected," says Dr Cichi. "If you do not want to wait until your period, then you should wait at least 21 days after you’ve had sex. Some pregnancy tests can be used from as early as 8 days after conception. However, for accurate results, it’s best to take a test when your period is due and of course if your period hasn’t arrived."
How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
Generally, pregnancy tests are pretty much on the mark. Pregnancy tests are usually 99% effective which is the same accuracy rate as most urine pregnancy tests performed in a doctor's office.
According to the NHS, a positive pregnancy test is "almost certainly correct. However, a negative test result is less reliable." This could be because you don't follow instructions or that you do it too early e.g. just days after ovulation and you could get a false negative which means you will need to test again later.
Does it matter if the pregnancy test is cheap?
"It doesn’t matter what brand or price point your test is, they will still be up to 99 per cent accurate when you use them as long as you use them correctly," says Dr Cichi. "However, some cheaper pregnancy tests may not have as many features as the more expensive ones such as a better handle for convenient use and a shorter wait time."
Should you retest?
As above, pregnancy tests are very accurate and it is highly likely that the test is correct first time around providing you are following the tests correctly. Understandably you might want the reassurance that the result is definitely correct and choose to do another time (or several times!). Several positive or negative pregnancy tests may well help the news sink in. We would also recommend checking the instructions of your test again to ensure you are doing everything right.
"The number of tests you take is a personal preference, and some women like to take a few to be sure. If you have taken a test and it says pregnant then it is highly unlikely to be wrong. I would suggest going to your GP for a further test if you are worried as this will put your mind at ease," explains Dr Cichi.
Can I get a pregnancy test on the NHS?
It is possible to get a pregnancy test on the NHS, but normally not at your GPs - you could make an appointment at your local Sexual Health Clinic. It's probably a lot quicker and easier to buy a pregnancy test! If you think you might be pregnant, here are the best ones to buy right now:
The best pregnancy tests in the UK:
Best pregnancy test for accuracy:
Clearblue is one of the most well-known pregnancy test brands. There are two tests in the box and this is great if you want to double-check if you're really preganant or not. It'll also tell you how many weeks too which is especially exciting. This is a worldwise bestseller and for good reason, it's touted as the most accurate pregnancy test out there.
Best pregnancy test for early testing:
Another good brand of pregnancy test is First Response. The package comes with two tests to make your life easier. The brand promises to give you results six days before the first day of your period (or missed period), which can be awesome if you are anxious to find out either way and can't wait a moment longer.
Best pregnancy test for speed:
It may be an unfamiliar brand but this pregnancy test will give you results in just one minute - ideal if you really can't wait any longer than you have to! After one minute check the result.Two lines means pregnant, only one line means not pregnant.
Best pregnancy test if you want extra reassurance:
Admittedly you may be getting up close and personal with your urine with these test strips but this bargain set includes 20 strips for you to use. Each urine test strip is in an independent pouch for easily using. Simply immerse the strip into a sample of urine, take the strip out after three seconds and lay it flat, checking the results after three minutes.
Best pregnancy test for ease of use:
This test is one step and easy to use. You get your results in three minutes with a rate of over 99% accuracy. Also you can use it as early as four days before your period is due.
What to do next?
If you have a positive pregnancy test result
Arrange an appointment with your doctor telling them that you took a test and it came back positive. From there, your doctor will be able to guide and advise you of your next steps. You'll be advised to make an appointment with the midwife, where your pregnancy will be confirmed.
If you have a negative pregnancy test result
If you were trying for a baby but had a negative pregnancy test result, try not to get too disheartened. It often takes several months or more to finally get there. Keep trying and read our advice on trying to conceive. If you are concerned about your fertility, please see your doctor.
If you're not trying for a baby, but are worried that your birth control is failing you, see your doctor so that you can find the best options available for you.