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Home pregnancy test kits are the handy tool for women who seek an explanation behind their missed period or the symptoms they’re experiencing. Thanks to these amazing plastic sticks, you can simply add a few drops of your urine sample and wait for a couple of minutes to have a quick hint of whether you’re pregnant or not. But what if you found an expired pregnancy test? Can you use an expired pregnancy test?
Let’s learn more about the pregnancy test’s expiration and how it can affect your results.
Can pregnancy tests expire?
Pregnancy test kits have certain expiration dates. They are usually printed on the box and the individual plastic packaging of the testing kits. Expiration dates on your test strips ensure the accuracy of the results, so it is important to check this detail before using any pregnancy test.
Pregnancy test kits contain a unique ingredient that reacts to the pregnancy hormone hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin. This hormone is released in a pregnant mother’s blood and urine once the fertilized egg implants on her womb. This reactive ingredient is unknown to many, but some suggest that it’s an antibody that reacts to the presence of hCG in the urine. This reaction is responsible for the line or the digital positive result that appears on the pregnancy test when you are pregnant.
Just like any other substances or chemicals, this active ingredient has its own shelf life. This means that after a period of time, it loses its ability to react to hCG, thus compromising the test kit’s ability to accurately detect pregnancy.
When do pregnancy tests expire?
Pregnancy tests are typically effective within one to three years after they were manufactured. Take note that the maximum shelf life is counted starting from the date that the kit was manufactured and not based on when you got it from the drug store. Even if you bought your pregnancy test stick a few months ago, it may be stocked in the pharmacy for years. Expiration dates may also vary per manufacturer so it is best to refer to the individual labels for this information.
How accurate are expired pregnancy tests?
Knowing how pregnancy tests work, it is highly likely that expired pregnancy test accuracy will be significantly lower when compared to the results that it can provide if used within the recommended time frame.
Using an expired pregnancy test also means that the active ingredient found inside will have less ability to react to the hCG in your urine. This can lead to a false negative result, meaning, you are pregnant but the test revealed negative since it has no ability to detect the pregnancy hormone in your urine anymore.
Can an expired pregnancy test give a false positive? Yes, it is also possible, especially when you stored it in a hot and humid area like your bathroom. False results are typically expected on expired pregnancy tests, so it is better to avoid using them if you want to avoid getting false hopes.
Generally, it is not recommended to use an expired pregnancy test. So if you are about to test yourself, check your test kit for the expiration date, along with the integrity of the package, and any discoloration on the product. Also, make sure you follow the instructions in your pregnancy test kit. Following these reminders will give you a more accurate result, but remember, the final confirmation will always come from your doctor.
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