It is not unusual to have one pregnancy test show up positive and another one show negative. But, what do you do — and are you actually pregnant?
First of all — how do I know what the heck I’m talking about? Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I also struggled with infertility for about 3 years with my last child, so I took a LOT of pregnancy tests. 🙂 I also understand a bit more about how this type of at home testing works. So, let’s jump in.
Before I forget — don’t miss the super helpful pregnancy calendar on my sister site. It will help show you your due date, and important times to remember in the coming 9 months!
And, remember this is just general advice/entertainment on this website. Nothing on here should be taken as medical advice, and you should always consult YOUR provider for your unique circumstances and needs.
Ok, here is the reality of pregnancy tests:
There are very few false positive pregnancy tests
So, what does that mean?
That means that if you get a positive pregnancy test, you are likely pregnant — OR a few other things could’ve happened:
- You’ve recently been pregnant and are miscarrying.
- You have an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that isn’t in your uterus — it’s rare but possible).
- Other serious hormonal issues that would likely be causing other issues.
All of those things (especially if you’re not bleeding) are fairly rare — but possible.
So, it’s not quite time to make all the plans yet — but if you have a positive pregnancy test, you are likely pregnant.
BTW, I’d love to join you in your pregnancy to give helpful tips as you progress:
Why Would a 2nd Pregnancy Test Come-Up Negative?
Most often a test comes up as negative (unless you’re not pregnant, obviously) because of one of the following reasons:
- Morning urine will have the hormone most concentrated (and is more likely to show positive earlier) — if you test later in the day, the hormone might not be enough to trigger the test.
- The test isn’t as sensitive to hormones as the other one (but would show positive in a few days).
- The test is expired (make sure that the control line came up to show that you’ve done the test correctly).
Ultimately, this shows that if you’ve had a positive pregnancy test you are likely pregnant and should make an appointment with a healthcare provider, even if the 2nd one comes up negative.
Will My Doctor’s Test Be Better than an At-Home Pregnancy Test?
Most doctors rely on a urine test for pregnancy in the office. It’s much faster, and easier (no blood draw).
However, they can send a blood sample into the lab if there is any question. The lab returns a VALUE (rather than just a positive or negative) — and you can also test a week later to see if the values are increasing (and the pregnancy is thriving) or decreasing (which would likely mean a miscarriage).
Also, if you are far enough along, they can use an ultrasound machine to check for a gestational sac (although I think they prefer to do this after a positive pregnancy test). I thought this article was pretty interesting on what they expect to see on an ultrasound.
What Should I Do When One Pregnancy Test is Positive and the Other is Negative?
The good news is that you likely don’t need a week of patience. You can test again tomorrow morning.
I understand how hard waiting that day can be when you want to know now. Pregnancy is definitely a life-changing event, and no matter how you feel about it — waiting that one day is just what you need to know.
Remember, pregnancy tests are most valid when you take them after the day your period should have started. If you haven’t had a period for a while, you’d want to take it about 15-20 days from the last day you had unprotected sex.
And, of course, if you have ANY questions, make sure you ask your provider. That’s what they’re there for!
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.