If you think you’re pregnant, a home pregnancy test is the simplest and quickest way to find out – all you need to do is to wee on the test stick for the result. Of course, the process may be straight forward but in reality, taking a pregnancy test is a huge deal. It’s an emotional moment full of excitement and nerves as you wait to see that positive or negative result.
With so many home pregnancy tests available – everything from simple sticks to flashy digital tests that show you how many weeks pregnant you are – it’s hard to know which one to pick. How can you tell which test will be the most accurate? Is it really worth buying the most expensive one, or will you get the same result for a pound? We’ve analysed the home pregnancy test market and, along with user reviews and feedback from mums, have rounded up the best ones and their key features.
How do pregnancy tests work?
All pregnancy tests work in the same way, by detecting the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) in your urine. This starts to be produced around six days after fertilisation, and the levels increase as your pregnancy develops.
The level of hCG in a non-pregnant woman is usually under or around 5mIU. This rises to about 100mIU in a pregnant woman at the time of her missed period.
Home pregnancy tests vary in their sensitivity – for example, if a test says it has a sensitivity of 20mIU that means it can detect a pregnancy earlier than one with a sensitivity of 100mIU.
How soon can I take a pregnancy test?
There are a number of early pregnancy tests that claim to give you a result up to 6 days before the day of your missed period (this is 5 days before the date your period is due). However the earlier you use them, the less reliable they are and the higher the risk of a false negative or false positive. Some of them have just over 50% accuracy when used super early – the same as flipping a coin.
We agree with the advice from doctors, midwives and fertility experts – to wait until the day after your period is due or at least until the test you’re using has 99% accuracy. Though we do understand that it can be tough to hold out that long.
Here’s our pick of the best home pregnancy tests…
1. First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test 2-pack, £10.49
– Best for sensitivity
mIU sensitivity: 6.3mIU | Time it takes to show result: 3 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 2 | Day when 99% accurate: 1 day before your period is due
The First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test is extremely sensitive (detecting 6.3mIU whereas most need a minimum of 10mIU) and can be used 6 days before the date of your missed period (which means 5 days before your period is actually due).
But remember, the earlier you use it, the less reliable the result – 62% 6 days before your missed period, rising to over 99% accuracy 1 day before your period is due.
The test is easy to read, with a large oval window displaying 2 lines if you’re pregnant, and 1 if you’re not. The results are in pink dye, which is favoured over blue dye by a lot of our MFM forum users for accuracy.
Our home tester Mel said: “I swear by the First Response Early Response test. I would say they’re not reliable quite as early as they say, but if you wait a couple of days before, they’re very accurate.”
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2. Clearblue Pregnancy Test With Weeks Indicator 2-pack, £12.99
– Best for showing how many weeks
mIU sensitivity: 25mIU | Time it takes to show result: 1-3 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 2 | Day when 99% accurate: Day your period is due
If the thought of working out your results from a line or cross doesn’t feel clear enough, the Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test With Weeks is for you. Not only does it spell out ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’ in the large window, it also tells you how many weeks along you are – whether that’s 1-2, 2-3 or 3+. It’s the only test on the market that does this.
You can test up to 5 days before your missed period (4 days before your period is due), but with 65% accuracy at that point it’s recommended to wait until the day of your expected period, where accuracy rises to over 99%. The Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test With Weeks is the most expensive test in our round-up, but for easy to understand results, in less than 3 minutes, and the added bonus of knowing how many weeks pregnant you are, it can be worth the cost.
Mum tester Michelle said, “I always go by Clearblue. For something so important and life changing I wanted something reliable, and I like that it tells you how many weeks pregnant you are.”
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3. Poundland Firstvue Pregnancy Test Strips, £1
– A great budget buy
mIU sensitivity: 20mIU | Time it takes to show result: 5 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 2 | Day when 99% accurate: Day after your period is due
If you’re looking for a basic pregnancy test that does the job, without any bells and whistles, the Firstvue Pregnancy Test Strips are a popular choice. And at just £1 for a pack of 2, they are a super affordable option.
Similar to the One Step tests, these are simple test strips without the plastic wand to hold when testing, so it’s advised you collect a wee sample in a pot first, then dip the test strip in there for 10 seconds. The test takes up to 5 minutes to show a result, so if patience isn’t your strong point, this might not be the one for you – check out the First Response Rapid Results test instead.
The test strips are able to detect hCG levels of 20mIU, but Firstvue recommends waiting until the first day after your missed period to test for a reliable result of 99% accuracy.
Our MFM home tester said: “I used the Poundland strips when trying to conceive and the results were always very accurate.”
Available from: Poundland
4. SureSign Pregnancy Test 2-pack, £4.99
– Best budget buy
mIU sensitivity: 15mIU | Time it takes to show result: 3 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 2 | Day when 99% accurate: Day after your period is due
The SureSign Pregnancy Test is slightly more sensitive than some others in our top picks – being able to detect hCG hormone levels of 15mIU – and is speedier at giving you a result, in around 3 minutes.
The test comes in a plastic wand, so it’s easy to test by holding the tip in your wee stream for at least 10 seconds. If you find this a bit tricky you can always take a urine sample and dip the tip into this instead – the results will be the same.
Our home tester Christine said, “With the SureSign tests, the positive control line was really faint at first but gradually got stronger when I tested again over the next few days.”
You can test as early as 4 days before your missed period (5 days before your period is due), but this can only give you 64% accuracy. This rises to 99% accuracy the day after your missed period, making it similar to the Clearblue Digital Test With Weeks Indicator in terms of early-testing accuracy, but without the cost.
5. Lloyds Pharmacy Early Pregnancy Test 2-pack, £6.19
– Best mid-price pregnancy test
mIU sensitivity: 25mIU | Time it takes to show result: 3 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 2 | Day when 99% accurate: Day after your period is due
Although this early pregnancy test can be used up to 4 days before your period is due, it’s important to note that the test only offers a 53% accuracy this early, barely better than 50:50. Lloyds Pharmacy recommends waiting until the day your period is due for a more reliable reading.
The plastic wand is easy to handle and hold midstream while you test your wee, and the results are straightforward to read, displayed in square and circular windows.
Our home tester liked how it came in a 2-pack: “This is a mid-priced test that gave me a positive result on the day my period was due. If I’d tested negative any earlier though, I would have checked again to be sure of the accuracy – good job that there are two in the pack!”
Currently the 2-pack pregnancy test is only available in-store, but with hundreds of Lloyds Pharmacies across the UK, it’s easy to pick one up from your local high street.
Available from: Lloyds Pharmacy
6. Healthpoint Clear & Simple Midstream Pregnancy Test, £1
– Best value midstream test
mIU sensitivity: 20mIU | Time it takes to show result: 5 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 1 | Day when 99% accurate: Day after your period is due
Another great budget option is the Clear & Simple Pregnancy Test. Very similar to the Poundland Firstvue Pregnancy Strips, the test has a 20mIU sensitivity and a 5-minute show time, however for the same price you only get 1 pregnancy test here.
The main difference is that this purse-friendly test has a plastic wand, so it’s easier to use in your wee stream – very handy if you need to test when you’re not at home.
You can test from up to 4 days before the date of your missed period, but if you do test early, it recommends using your first wee of the morning, as this is when the hCG is most concentrated.
For over 99% accuracy, wait for the first day of your missed period as our MFM home tester found. She said, “I had a negative result with the Clear & Simple Pregnancy Test when I used it two days before my period was due. I tested again though two days later and got a very strong positive.”
Available from: Chemist 4 U
7. One Step 20 x Highly Sensitive Pregnancy Test Strips, £3.29
– Best budget bulk buy
mIU sensitivity: 10mIU | Time it takes to show result: 5 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 20 | Day when 99% accurate: Day after your period is due
If you’re someone who likes the option of testing regularly, this cheap and cheerful bulk-buy option is a good choice. These no-frills test strips come in a pack of 20 and claim a high sensitivity of 10mIU. However, according to instructions and based on many mums’ experiences, it’s best to use these tests the day after your period is due.
The strips come without a plastic wand, so we’d recommend dipping them in a wee sample, rather than attempting to catch a sample midstream. A big plus point is that without the extra plastic casing, these test-strips are a great eco-friendly buy – especially important if you plan on testing often.
Our home tester said she found them useful when trying to conceive: “I was a compulsive tester when trying to conceive, so I found the jumbo 20-pack of One Step strips a very cost-effective way to keep checking!”
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8. Clearblue Early Detection Pregnancy Test 2-pack, £11.59
– Best for results countdown
mIU sensitivity: 10mIU | Time it takes to show result: 3 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 2 | Day when 99% accurate: Day your period is due
Another pick from this brand-leader, the Clearblue Early Detection Pregnancy Test offers a reassuring indicator that the test is working while you wait for the result to appear. Again, it reveals the result in words rather than two lines, which some women find easier to interpret.
The Early Detection Test can be used up to 5 days before your missed period (4 days before your period is due). But with an accuracy of only 52% at this point, there really isn’t any point in using it. Wait a day and the accuracy increases to 82% and reaches 99% on the day your period is due.
So while it’s not as accurate as early as the First Response Early Result test, the plastic wand is chunky and very easy to hold when testing.
With many happy users thanks to the easy-to-read results, one mum commented, “This is a very good product. As soon as I did the test the ‘Pregnant’ sign came up straight away. It was very quick, and the explanation was clear.”
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9. Zoom Baby Midstream Pregnancy Test – Extra Sensitive, £1.29
– Best for NHS tested
mIU sensitivity: 10mIU | Time it takes to show result: 3 minutes | Number of tests in a pack: 1 | Day when 99% accurate: Day after your period is due
These good value sensitive tests can be used up to 4 days before the first day of your missed period (3 days before your period is due), and although the plain white plastic wand looks pretty basic, you can easily use this test midstream, while you wee. Don’t be put-off by their simple appearance, these tests are the same ones used by the NHS, .
These are only available direct from the Zoom Baby website, but everything is sent out quickly, in plain, discreet packaging, so you don’t need to worry about advertising to the postman that you’re TTC!
One customer review praised how good value they are: “In my opinion, these pregnancy tests are as good as the expensive ones in the shops, but at a fraction of the price.” At £1.29 for a midstream test with a plastic wand with strong sensitivity at 10mIU, you can’t go wrong.”
Available from: Zoom Baby
10. First Response Rapid Results 2-pack, £8.99
– Best for speedy results
mIU sensitivity: 21mIU | Time it takes to show result: less than 1 minute | Number of tests in a pack: 2 | Day when 99% accurate: Day after your period is due
Hands-down the quickest pregnancy test on the market, the First Response Rapid Results Pregnancy Test can give you a result in 45 seconds – music to your ears if you just want to know NOW!
You need to wait until the day after your expected period is due, and your result will show up in less than a minute and with over 99% accuracy.
As with all of the First Response tests, the result shows up in pink dye, with 2 lines for pregnant and 1 line for not pregnant. It’s a simple, easy to follow test – either test in midstream in your wee for five seconds or dip the tip into a wee sample pot for 20 seconds, then wait for your result to appear.
With 77% of customers giving them a 5-star rating five-star on Amazon website, it’s a very popular choice. However remember not to use this pregnancy test early – you’re getting fast results not early ones.