Does Birth Control Affect Pregnancy Tests?

Find Out if Birth Control Pills Impact Pregnancy Tests

The birth control pill is a wonder of modern medicine, but it must be taken with precision and consistency in order to work correctly. If you have reason to believe you may be pregnant—even while on a form of hormonal contraception—odds are your next step is to nab a home pregnancy test. Such pregnancy tests are typically extremely accurate, although occasionally, the results can be skewed. Luckily, no evidence exists that birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives affect the test results. Read on to understand the connection between birth control and pregnancy tests.

How Hormonal Contraception Affects Fertility

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A Pregnancy Test & Birth Control Pills

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“The pill,” the patch and the vaginal ring work to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. Man-made estrogen and progestin hormones in these birth control methods not only prevent the release of eggs from the ovaries, but also make the cervical lining inhospitable to sperm. If the egg can’t meet the sperm, you won’t become pregnant.

How Pregnancy Tests Work

When taken according to the directions, pregnancy tests work by detecting levels of the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is produced approximately six days after you conceive, and it will continue to rise as time goes on. The Mayo Clinic explains that while fertility medications may impact pregnancy test results with a false positive, oral contraceptives have no effect on hCG levels. The reasons for false negatives include taking a test too soon or not following the test instructions carefully.

When to Test

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How Long Do Pregnancy Blood Test Results Take?

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While your period might be delayed because of diet, stress or an underlying medical condition, you should still take a test if your period is late—even if you’re on birth control. You may also notice symptoms that feel like PMS—such as tiredness, cramping and breast tenderness—but these are also early signs of pregnancy. Other early pregnancy symptoms that feel like nausea can also be side effects of taking the birth control pill. Taking a test will help rule out pregnancy, or alert you that you’re in need of prenatal care.

How to Accurately Take the Test

If you take the test too far in advance of your normal period cycle, you may not have enough hCG in the body for detection. Experts also recommend that you take the test first thing in the morning while your urine is still concentrated. Finally, be sure to give the test ample time to work. Some tests don’t reveal results for up to 10 minutes. Pregnancy tests have expiration dates, so take care to not use an expired test for the most accurate results.

When to See a Doctor

If you'd like to confirm the results of the at-home pregnancy test, make an appointment with your doctor. Doctors can run a blood test to measure hCG levels (or the lack thereof) and can also perform an ultrasound to verify your pregnancy. Making an appointment with an OBGYN is particularly a good idea if the test was positive, as you'll want to begin prenatal care as soon as possible.