What’s the Best Pregnancy Test? Common Brands Ranked by Sensitivity.

There are a lot of different types of pregnancy tests out there, but which one is the best pregnancy test? That depends on what you mean by “best.” There are a variety of factors that distinguish different types of pregnancy tests, but for most women, the best pregnancy test is the one that has the lowest threshold for detecting the pregnancy hormone hCG. The more sensitive a pregnancy test is to hCG, the earlier it will be able to detect a pregnancy.

What’s the earliest you can get a positive pregnancy test?

It depends on three variables:

1. When implantation occurs

Pregnancy tests detect the presence of the hormone hCG, which is produced by the embryo after implantation. Implantation can happen anywhere from 6 – 12 days after ovulation/conception, but most of the time it happens 8 – 10 days after ovulation1. Once implantation is complete, hCG levels will double roughly every 48 hours. So part of the answer to how soon you can get a positive pregnancy test depends on when implantation occurs.

2. Your baseline hCG levels

The other part of the answer depends on your baseline hCG levels. Even when you are not pregnant, you have a very small amount of hCG in your body—up to 5 mIU/ml. If you have a higher baseline level of hCG than your friend, and you are both pregnant and you both had implantation happen on the same day, you may be able to get a positive pregnancy test earlier than she can, since hCG doubling time includes your body’s baseline hCG, so you have a bit of a head start!

3. Your hCG doubling time

The final variable is hCG doubling time. While hCG levels double on average every 48 hours, this figure can vary from woman to woman. If your hCG doubling time is on the slower side, it will take a little longer until you have enough hCG in your body to get a positive pregnancy test.

Based on all three of these variables, you can see that it’s highly unlikely to get a positive pregnancy test before 9 – 10 days after ovulation, and most women probably won’t test positive until 11 – 12 days after ovulation. (Read more about when to take a pregnancy test.)

What kind of test should you use?

If you’re testing on the first day of a missed period, it doesn’t matter very much which test you use—most currently marketed tests are reliable and will yield a positive result for 98 percent of pregnant women. But if you’re testing earlier than your missed period, you should use a more sensitive test. Note that we don’t necessarily recommend testing early, just that if you are going to test early, you should use a sensitive pregnancy test. The more sensitive your test is to hCG, the earlier you will be able to get a positive result.

Most pregnancy test brands claim an hCG detection threshold range anywhere from 6.3 – 50 mIU/ml, with most tests falling between 20 – 35 mIU/ml. However, test manufacturers claims are not verified by independent testing. When independent studies have been carried out, the results are often quite different from what the test manufacturers claim2. Some websites claim to list the sensitivity of various pregnancy test brands, but these sensitivity claims usually come directly from the test manufacturer rather from an independent testing agency.

A few independent studies have been done to test the sensitivity of various pregnancy test brands. Based on these studies, hCG threshold data for a few common pregnancy test brands is available:

  • Clearblue (manual and digital tests): 22 mIU/ml3
  • e.p.t. (manual and digital tests): 22 mIU/ml4
  • First Response Early Results: 6.3 mIU/ml5

What other factors should you look for in a pregnancy test?

Ease of use

Pregnancy test brands differ in how easy they are to use. Mid-stream tests require that you hold the test directly into your stream of urine, while dip-stick tests require you to pee in a cup, then dip the test in for a few seconds. Many women prefer the dip-stick tests because they are less messy, but this is a matter of personal preference.


If you’re the kind of woman who prefers to wait until your period is several days late and you’re already experiencing early signs of pregnancy such as sore breasts or increased sense of smell, price probably isn’t the most important factor to you in evaluating pregnancy tests.

But if your habit is to take lots of pregnancy tests during the two week wait, it makes sense to look for cheap bulk pregnancy tests, usually purchased online (try brands like Wondfo or Easy at Home).

Clarity of results

After the wait time has passed, you look into the results window to determine whether the test is positive or negative. Positive tests carry a plus sign, two lines, or an explicit message such as “yes” or “pregnant.”

Some women prefer the tests that say “yes” or “pregnant” because there is no room for gray area in interpreting the results.

Other women prefer the two-line tests because the second line is directly correlated to the concentration of hCG in the urine (hCG is the hormone that an embryo produces after implantation). The darker the second line, the higher the concentration of hCG. It can be reassuring to see the line getting darker over several days as hCG levels increase in early pregnancy.

The downside of two line tests is that the results can sometimes be difficult to interpret. Any second line—even very faint—indicates a positive result. However, if the tests are not used properly, a false second line can sometimes appear (learn how to tell the difference between a positive pregnancy test and a false positive).


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  1. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199906103402304
  2. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cclm.2015.53.issue-3/cclm-2014-1033/cclm-2014-1033.xml?utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=TrendMD&utm_campaign=TrendMD_0
  3. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cclm.2011.49.issue-8/cclm.2011.211/cclm.2011.211.xml?format=INT&utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Clinical_Chemistry_and_Laboratory_Medicine_(CCLM)_TrendMD_0
  4. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cclm.2011.49.issue-8/cclm.2011.211/cclm.2011.211.xml?format=INT&utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Clinical_Chemistry_and_Laboratory_Medicine_(CCLM)_TrendMD_0
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16295647
2018-01-18T05:17:08+00:00Babymaking 101, Hormones|

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