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Can Pregnancy Tests Expire | Don’t Risk a False Negative

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If you’re contemplating buying an at-home pregnancy test, rest assured they are typically 99% accurate when used correctly. However, the accuracy might diminish if the test is expired or if instructions aren’t followed meticulously. Consulting gynecologists can provide insights into how these tests function, their expiration, and the reliability of older tests.

Do Pregnancy Tests Have an Expiration Date?

Pregnancy test shelf life varies by brand, but typically lasts two to three years from manufacturing according to Dr. Stephanie Hack, an OB-GYN. This applies to both digital and traditional tests. Expired tests can occur from storage in your medicine cabinet or if they sat on the store shelf a long time. To ensure accuracy, toss any test past its expiration date. 

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

Pregnancy tests operate by detecting the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine, produced by cells that form the placenta after fertilization. This hormone is typically detectable about six to 12 days post-fertilization. Whether you directly urinate on the test or dip it in a cup of urine, ensuring a control line’s appearance confirms proper functionality. It’s worth noting that pregnancy tests yield the most accurate results after a missed period.

Are Expired Pregnancy Tests Still Effective?

Expired pregnancy tests may lose their effectiveness in detecting hCG hormone due to chemical degradation or evaporation over time. This can lead to false negative results, indicating no pregnancy when there is one. While false positives are less common, they remain a possibility. In essence, expired tests might still work, particularly with high hCG levels, but the risk of error is higher. Therefore, it’s unwise to depend on expired pregnancy tests for reliable results.

Is My Pregnancy Test Expired?

To determine if your pregnancy test is expired, check for the expiration date on the packaging. Brands like Clearblue typically include this information on both the box and the foil wrapper of each test. Always inspect for this date before use, especially if the test has been stored for an extended period. Additionally, factors like extreme temperatures and humidity can affect a test’s accuracy, so store them in a dry, room-temperature environment as advised on the product packaging.

Do Pregnancy Tests Ever Give False Positives or Negatives?

The short answer is yes, at-home pregnancy tests can yield both false positives and false negatives. False positives may result from factors such as certain medications, medical conditions, or testing too soon after a miscarriage or previous pregnancy. False negatives can occur if the test is taken too early, indicating low urine hCG levels for detection, or if an expired test is used. The most accurate results are typically obtained one to two days after a missed period. If uncertainty persists, consulting an OB-GYN or healthcare provider can address concerns effectively. Confirming results with a blood test at a healthcare facility is advisable upon receiving a positive home test.


At-home pregnancy tests are generally reliable but can yield false positives or negatives due to various factors such as medication usage, medical conditions, or improper timing. To maximize accuracy, it’s best to wait one to two days after a missed period before testing. If uncertainties persist, consulting a healthcare provider is recommended. Confirmation with a blood test at a medical facility is advisable for conclusive results.

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