Women who are trying to get pregnant know that overly cluttered cabinets full of boxes of pregnancy tests are a common thing. Most of these women stock up in preparation for all the important tests they have ahead of them. This is because, for most women it takes more than one cycle to get pregnant. For some women it can take months up to years. So they always keep pregnancy tests on hand because they never know when that stick will turn blue and they will finally get the news they have been waiting for. However, this does come with a variety of new problems to worry about. Besides the obvious space issues, there is the question of whether or not a pregnancy test that has been sitting in your medicine cabinet for years will still work, and better yet, is it still reliable? The unknown begs the question, do pregnancy tests expire?
What is the Average Shelf Life of a Pregnancy Test?
Like most products that are store bought, pregnancy tests do indeed expire. This may lead you to wonder, when do pregnancy tests expire? Each and every type and brand of pregnancy test is different but most seem to stick to the same guidelines. This means that no matter the type of pregnancy test you are using, chances are they will expire anywhere from 2-3 years from their original production date. This is good news for women who have a drawer full of unused boxes of pregnancy test who also have no end of testing in sight. While many of the more expensive and well known brands of pregnancy tests have a longer shelf life, you should never assume that just because you paid more for a test that it will hold up for any longer time past the expiration date.
An important thing to note is that this expiration date is from the time the pregnancy test was actually made, not from the time you have purchased it. Meaning this if you bought a test yesterday; it could have still been physically made over a year ago. To ensure that you are about to use a pregnancy test that is still good to use, check the date printed on the box. Even pregnancy tests will tell you when they are set to expire. If you have thrown out the box, have no fear! Most pregnancy tests come in a two or more pack so each test will be individually sealed for sanitation reasons and each one of these foil wrappers should have a date time stamped on the side for easy reading.
Why Do Pregnancy Tests Expire?
Everyone expects that perishable items, like food and medicine, will eventually no longer be safe to use or eat after a certain time frame. It is surprising to know that items like pregnancy tests come with the same warning. So why do pregnancy tests expire? To know why pregnancy tests expire, you must first understand how they work. Home pregnancy tests use a simple screening process to give you positive or negative result. When a woman is expecting a child there will be an increase of the pregnancy hormone known as hCG in their system. Most women have this hormone naturally in their systems even when they are not pregnant because this hormone is released during ovulation in preparation for a pregnancy. Pregnancy tests are made to being extremely sensitive so that they can detect even the smallest bit of hormone influx which often times mean that an egg has been fertilized. The same sensitive in pregnancy tests that will give you a positive result, is the same reason why these tests will expire after a certain period of time.
Pregnancy tests expire because after they sit unused too long after expiration date the level of hCG that they need to give you a reading will need to be higher. It comes down to basic chemistry. Active ingredients that are used to detect this very small amount of pregnancy hormone will no longer work the way they should which is why they expire. It has little to do with the type or brand of home pregnancy test you have purchased and everything to do with the materials that were used to make the test reliable.
Are Expired Pregnancy Tests Safe to Use?
You may find that you have a stash of expired pregnancy tests in your bathroom, but that doesn’t mean that you should continue to use them, even if it does seem like a great waste of money. Is it safe to use an expired pregnancy test? Yes. There will be no harm done to you physically by peeing on a stick that has past its expiration date, but emotionally is a different story. This is because expired pregnancy tests are not going to be as sensitive as newer ones so the results might not always be correct. The last thing you want as a woman who is hoping to be expecting a child is to get a false negative, or worse, false hope. This is especially true for pregnancy tests that are meant for early detection. Early detection pregnancy tests are far more sensitive than other regular pregnancy tests which mean that they are especially time sensitive.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t use an expired pregnancy test to give you a correct response. Like all things in life, use caution and common sense. Obviously a test that expired a day before you plan to take it will more than likely be just as accurate, where as a test that expired a year ago will defiantly not be as reliable. If you are seriously worried about not getting a correct response, it is best to toss out any expired pregnancy test. Don’t ever leave your health, or your state of mind up to chance.
How to Find the Best Pregnancy Test for You
If you went running to your bathroom to find that all of those pesky boxes of unused pregnancy tests have long past their expiration dates, it is time to run to the store and stock up on some more. But how do you know that you won’t make the same mistake again? First things first, always check the box before purchasing a new pregnancy test. While it is the job of the store you are shopping at to make sure that their products are safe and have no passed their due date, some things are always bound to fall through the cracks. Chalk it up to human error, but it will happen. Take matters into your own hands and be vigilant when throwing that pregnancy test box in your cart and take the extra second to check out the date. It is also a good rule of thumb to avoid pregnancy tests that are found in a bargain bin because chances are that they are marked down for a reason, most likely because they are close to expiring.
If you are planning on restocking your cabinets with pregnancy tests, do some research first. If you know that you are on your path to a long journey of trial and error when it comes to pregnancy, try to find pregnancy tests that have a longer shelf life than others. A simple way to do this is to check with the brand to see what they suggest as the life span on their style of pregnancy test. There may be a lot of reasons to stock up ahead of time, one of them being that sometimes it is more cost effective to buy in bulk. If you have to end up throwing out these pregnancy tests due to expirations dates later down the line, you will actually find that you will be losing money in the long run.
It will also be a good thing to keep in mind that the early detection pregnancy tests are the most sensitive ones available on the market which may mean that they will expire sooner than others. To avoid finding yourself stuck with too many unreliable tests, try to stock up on different brands and styles. This will also be a good time to try out different styles until you find the one that is best for you. Whether it is an early detection test, or a newer digital test; there are dozens out there to try.
When taking charge of your own body and your own potential pregnancy, you may find yourself asking, “Do pregnancy tests expire?” Now that you have an answer to that burning question, you will find that there are about a million other things you are wondering about when it comes to beginning your pregnancy journey. Just remember, that like most products you find, it is important to follow specific directions when it comes to an expiration date. This is because expiration dates are not merely suggestions and they are indeed there for a reason. You don’t want to mess around reliability, especially when it comes to pregnancy tests. Using a pregnancy test within its proper date can save you a great deal or time, money and heartache.