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Best pregnancy test: Get fast and accurate results, from £5

Don’t know whether you’re pregnant or not? Try one of these pregnancy tests to be sure

Whether it’s expected or otherwise, finding out you’re pregnant can elicit a whole spectrum of emotions. Not being sure either way, however, can be a very unsettling place. That’s why it makes sense to have a simple, affordable home pregnancy test to hand: this can give you a very reliable indication as to whether you are in fact pregnant or not. No nurses, hospitals or blood tests needed. All it takes is a trip to the bathroom and a few minutes’ wait.

But not all home pregnancy tests are created equal: they have different hCG sensitivity levels, accuracy rates and waiting times. Some include indicators to estimate how many weeks pregnant you are, and others monitor ovulation to help plan the best time to try for a baby. Some tests are harder to interpret than others, too, with a range of different indicators to show positive and negative results.

Below we’ll walk you through the science behind pregnancy tests as well as how and when to use one. Further down, you’ll find our handpicked selection of the best pregnancy tests to buy.

How to buy the right pregnancy test

How does a pregnancy test work? 

Six days after conception the placenta starts to produce a ‘pregnancy hormone’ called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG for short. This hormone is only present when you’re pregnant, and reaches a high enough level to be detected in pregnant women’s urine and blood after around two weeks. A stick pregnancy test simply measures if there’s a raised amount of hCG present in your urine.

When is the best time to take a pregnancy test?

It’s important that you allow enough hCG to build up in your system before taking a pregnancy test. Otherwise, your hormone levels might be too low for a test to pick up a reliable result which is why the NHS says that the best time to take a pregnancy test is on the first day of a missed period. It’s tempting to take a pregnancy test earlier, especially since some tests claim to deliver an accurate result eight days after conception, but it definitely pays to be patient – pregnancy tests are more reliable the longer you wait.

Are home pregnancy tests accurate?

If you’ve followed the instructions and taken the test at the right time, home pregnancy tests can be a highly reliable way to find out if you’re expecting. A positive result is almost certainly correct but it is common to get a false negative if you take the test too early. If you’ve recorded a negative result but have missed your period and are experiencing pregnancy symptoms, either wait three days and take another test or visit your doctor.

Strip tests or stick test?

A stick pregnancy test has an indicator to urinate on, a plastic wand to hold onto and a clear results window. It’s a more expensive option than a strip test but it’s easy to use and provides quick results. However, if you’re actively trying to conceive you’ll likely be taking frequent tests which makes a multipack of strip tests (simple indicator strips without wand handles) a more cost-effective way to check if you’re pregnant. 

The best pregnancy tests

1. Clearblue Rapid Detection test: Quickest pregnancy test 

Price: £6.60 | Buy now from Amazon

Every second drags when you’re waiting for a result to appear on a pregnancy test. Luckily, Clearblue can help put your mind at rest fast with its Rapid Detection pregnancy test. While you need to wait three minutes for it to confirm a negative result (which is still a quick turnaround), it takes just one minute to let you know if you’re expecting.

While the test claims it can be used five days before a period, it’s most reliable when used the day after a missed period. For ease of use, the Rapid Detection test uses a colour-change tip, which turns from white to pink, to let you know when the urine has been fully absorbed. Just be sure to hold the test in your urine for 5 seconds, or until a clear cross appears in the indicator’s window next to the result.

Key specs  Test type: Strip test; hCG sensitivity: N/A; Weeks indicator: No; Results: in 1 minute (for positive result).

2. Clearblue Pregnancy Test with Weeks Indicator: Best pregnancy test to show how many weeks pregnant

Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon

Clearblue’s popular pregnancy test may be the most expensive here, but it’s also the only digital test available to show how advanced your pregnancy is. It does this by monitoring how much hCG is in your urine: the more hormone present, the further along your pregnancy you are.

Naturally, visiting your GP for a blood test and ultrasound scan is the only sure way to tell exactly how advanced your pregnancy is but this Clearblue offering is a quick, affordable at-home option. Unlike cheaper pregnancy tests, it displays a clear ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’ rather than a coloured line, and gives you an indication as to whether you’ve been pregnant for 1 to 2 weeks, 2 to 3 weeks, or 3 weeks plus.

You’ll have to wait up to three minutes to get a clear result and it can be used while peeing or placed in a urine sample for 20 seconds. For best results, use the test after the first day of a missed period using your first pee of the day.

Key specs  Test type: Digital; hCG sensitivity: from 25mlU; Weeks indicator: Yes; Results: 3 minutes.

3. First Response Pregnancy Test: Best pregnancy test to detect an early pregnancy

Price: £10.49 | Buy now from Superdrug

This First Response pregnancy test can detect really small amounts of the pregnancy hormone in urine (from 5.5mlU to be exact) which is impressive – the manufacturer claims it comes with a 99% accuracy rating. It works five days earlier than your missed period and takes just three minutes to deliver a clear result – two pink lines for pregnant, one for not. All you need to do is place the indicator tip in your urine stream for a few seconds. It doesn’t come with the bells and whistles of weeks indicators and bundled ovulation kits, but if you’re looking to detect an early pregnancy, this First Response test is the best in class.

Key info – Test type: Strip test; hCG sensitivity: from 5.5mlU; Weeks indicator: No; Results: in 3 minutes.

Buy now from Superdrug

4. One Step Pregnancy Test Strips: Best cheap pregnancy test

Price: £5.50 (Pack of 50) | Buy now from Amazon

Pregnancy tests don’t come cheap, and the costs can quickly mount up if you frequently reach for them while you’re trying to conceive. If that’s the case, we’d recommend you to buy a big multipack of inexpensive strip tests – you’ll pay pennies per strip and they’re both CE approved and have a long expiry date.

The One Step strip tests can pick up a result once the ‘pregnancy’ hormone hCG reaches a level of 10mlU. Some people report an accurate result 11 days post conception, but be aware that it may not work as well for you. Simply place the strip test in a sample of urine for 30 seconds and a red line should appear if you’re expecting.

Key specs – Test type: Strip test; hCG sensitivity: from 10mlU; Weeks indicator: No; Results: N/A.

5. Clearblue Ovulation and Pregnancy test: Best ovulation kit and pregnancy test

Price: £47 | Buy now from Boots

This multipack from Clearblue takes all the guesswork out of trying for a baby. The Ovulation test has a Dual Hormone Indicator that can identify four or more days per cycle that offer the best chance of getting pregnant. Like many ovulation kits, it’ll detect levels of estrogen and luteinising hormone to identify two peak days but it will highlight additional days beforehand too. Once you’ve identified your peak days and think you may be pregnant, there’s a Clearblue pregnancy test with a Weeks Indicator included in the set. We’ve gone into a little more detail about this particular test above; it’s the only test that will attempt to show you how far along in the pregnancy you are.

Key info – Test type: Digital; hCG sensitivity: from 25mlU; Weeks indicator: Yes; Results: in 1 minute.

Buy now from Boots

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