Birth control is a tricky thing. It’s one of those drugs that many women take without understanding how it works, instead, resting comfortably with their regular periods and clearer skin — oh, and not being pregnant. But it’s only so effective. If you find yourself concerned about the state of your uterus, you'll want to take a pregnancy test. But does a pregnancy test work if you’re on the pill, or do the hormones involved in the pregnancy test act like a foil to the test? Whether it's tricking it into believing something is there that isn’t, or lulling it into a false sense of security, how does your pill affect a pregnancy test?
Am I humanizing a pregnancy test? Possibly, but the questions remain.
Over-the-counter home pregnancy tests work by detecting the amount of mIU/ml of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine, according to Craig Medical. The pricier tests can detect as low as 20 mIU/ml of hCG in the urine, whereas generic brands can detect hCG at around 100 mIU/ml with their technology. While this may seem like a huge discrepancy, consider the fact that levels of hCG double every 72 hours, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
The hormone hCG is completely unique to pregnancy. It is the hormone that begins the process of encapsulating the embryo and growing the placenta, according to the Journal of Reproductive and Biological Endocrinology. So does birth control affect that reading at all? Does a pregnancy test work if you’re on the pill?
According to The Mayo Clinic, pregnancy tests, and their subsequent results are not at all affected by birth control. This is because pregnancy tests work by administering a combination of estrogen and progesterone, which acts by preventing ovulation or implantation. Because these hormones are present in your body throughout your cycle, home pregnancy tests don’t register their presence at all. However, if you’re on an hCG-based fertility medication or supplement, then the efficacy of the pregnancy test is suspect.
Birth control may not affect the result of the test, but it’s important to note that if you get a positive pregnancy test, you should call your doctor and stop taking the pill, according to the Mayo Clinic. Researchers haven’t found a definitive link between pregnancy or birth complications and the regular birth control pill, but you’re at a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy if you’re using the mini pill, and especially if you’re using an IUD.
Rest easy, though. Chances are, if you got a negative pregnancy test, you truly aren’t pregnant, according to Planned Parenthood. So you can exhale and have a drink.