Is It True? Can Alcohol Affect a Pregnancy Test?

Are you getting ready to take a pregnancy test in the next day or two? If so, you might be wondering can alcohol affect a pregnancy test. Having a brew or two before you know you are pregnant is a common activity, but you don’t want it to affect the results of your pregnancy. So, let’s take a look to see if there is any reason to be concerned.

Pregnancy Tests and Alcohol

The great news is that alcohol cannot affect your pregnancy test results! No matter what the results are, alcohol didn’t alter those results at all. When you take a home pregnancy test, you are testing for the amount of HCG – human chorionic gonadotropin – in your urine. Pregnancy tests don’t test your bloodstream, and that is where alcohol ends up. For alcohol to affect your pregnancy test results, the test would have to check HCG in your bloodstream rather than urine.

How Do Home Pregnancy Tests Work

So, you are still skeptical. How can we be sure that alcohol won’t affect your pregnant test? We can be sure because we understand how pregnancy tests truly work. Here is what you need to know.

  • Once your egg has been fertilized and travels down the fallopian tube, it starts the process of implanting into your uterine walls. At this point, your body starts to produce the pregnancy hormone, HCG.
  • When you aren’t pregnant, your HCG levels are between 0 and four mIU/ml.
  • Slowly, these levels are going to start to rise. Technically, 5mIU/ml is considered pregnant, but there are no at home pregnancy tests that can detect a level this low.
  • On average, HCG doubles every 48 to 72 hours. So, it could take three to four days post implantation, which can take a week to nine days after ovulation, before a pregnancy test might detect a positive result.
  • The best time to take a pregnancy test is on the day you expect your period with your first morning urine. It typically has the highest level of HCG, and you are most likely to get an accurate reading.

As you can see, alcohol cannot alter the amount of HCG in your system. HCG is what your pregnancy tests will look for, not alcohol.

Alcohol CAN Affect Your Pregnancy

While alcohol cannot affect your pregnant test, it will affect your pregnancy. Alcohol is dangerous to your young fetus, potentially leading to fetal alcohol syndrome. Don’t panic! If you consume small to moderate amounts of alcohol, it won’t affect your pregnancy during the earliest weeks of pregnancy. At this time, the egg is still going through the long process of implantation. Many women have no idea they are pregnant. However, once you find out that you are truly pregnant, you shouldn’t consume any more alcoholic beverages.

It is important to know that there is no amount of alcohol that is deemed safe during pregnancy. Doctors do tell patients that a glass of red wine here and there should pose no problems, especially if consumed during the third trimester. However, it is best if mothers side with caution and do what they feel is safest.

Alcohol enters your bloodstream and will quickly pass directly through the placenta. The umbilical cord transfer nutrients (and alcohol) from the placenta into your baby. The placenta is essential for the growth of your child, delivering food and oxygen to your baby. We aren’t sure if there is a certain level of alcohol that leads to issues with a baby’s developing brain, but it is possible.

So, what could happen if alcohol is introduced to your child during pregnancy?

  • Premature Birth – your baby could be born before 37 weeks, which could lead to health problems.
  • Brain damage
  • Problems with growth and development
  • Congenital disabilities, including heart issues, hearing problems, and vision problems may be present at birth.
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome leads children to have a multitude of problems such as developmental disabilities. FASDs can lead to physical development delays, and it lasts a lifetime.
  • Low birthweight – baby weighs less than 5 pounds 8 ounces at birth.
  • Miscarriage – alcohol can lead to a miscarriage, before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Can Drugs Affect a Pregnancy Test?

If alcohol doesn’t affect the results on a pregnancy test, will drugs? We won’t get into whether or not the drug you consume is illegal or not. The fact is that drugs won’t affect your pregnancy test any more than alcohol does.

It is important to remember that illegal drug activity can and will harm your unborn child. Your results may be accurate, but you don’t know the long-term damage caused by drugs. Mothers addicted to drugs typically give birth to babies who are addicted as well. Their first week or two of life is difficult as they go through a withdrawal process.

While it won’t affect your pregnancy test, it could lead to some other problems such as:

  • Birth defects
  • Premature babies
  • Underweight babies
  • Stillborn babies
  • Behavioral problems
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Brain structure changes
  • Affects childhood memories and attentiveness

Factors that Can Affect a Pregnancy Test

Now that we looked at alcohol and drugs, you might wonder if there is anything that can affect your pregnancy test. You clearly want to make sure that your test results, whatever they may be, are accurate. Here are some things that could give you the wrong result.

  • Taking a pregnancy test too early. Earlier, we discussed how pregnancy tests work. It can take up to nine days before a fertilized egg starts to implant into your uterine walls. Then, it could take three days before there is enough HCG in your system that is detectable by a home pregnancy test. Typically, the earliest you may get a positive reading is 12 days post ovulation. This will vary based on when your body ovulated and when the egg implanted.
  • HCG levels are too low. You might be on the right track with the timing of your tests, but the HCG may just be too low. Sometimes, HCG takes longer to double than average. It may be scary to think that it is progressing slowly, but you just need to give it time.
  • You aren’t taking the pregnancy test as described. While taking a pregnancy test is typically easy, it is important for you to read the directions on each box. Sometimes, they differ. Here are the general steps to take.
  1. Decide if you want to collect urine in a cup for testing or put the test directly into a stream of urine. Dipping in a collected sample does help to avoid oversaturation. Plus, you avoid the chance of getting urine on your hand.
  2. Take the test out of the wrapper and use the method you decided. Either way, you don’t want to leave the test in urine for more than 5 seconds. Count it out! Once the 5 seconds are over, take the test out, replace the cap and set the test down.
  3. Now, you have to wait. You can read a test usually 3 to 5 minutes after taking it. If you read it too early, the results could be wrong. During this time, wash your hands and get a drink. Wait the full 5 minutes, so you know the results are right!
  4. Read the results. Some tests are different, so make sure you understand the type you are getting. A line test typically shows one line (negative) or two lines (positive. Other tests show a – sign for negative and a + for a positive result. Digital tests make it easier; they say NOT PREGNANT or PREGNANT. You can’t mess that up!
  5. Don’t read the tests after 10 minutes. I know you want to stare at it and make sure it won’t change. But, it can! As the test starts to dry up, mothers are known to see evaporation lines, from where a second positive line might have shown up if it was a positive result. Once 10 minutes have passed, set the test down and walk away. Reading a test too long after taking it can give you the wrong results.
  • Prescribed fertility drugs. Some women have trouble getting pregnant. In fact, 1 out of 8 women faces infertility issues. It is possible that you need assistance with fertility medications to help the conception process. If you are using these medications to get pregnant, your doctor may advise you to not to take a pregnancy test at home. Some tests stimulate egg production using certain levels of HCG. So, it is best to wait to test until your doctor performs a blood test.

Conclusion

Alcohol will not affect your pregnancy test; neither will illegal drugs. It is important to remember that, even though they won’t change the results, they shouldn’t be consumed during pregnancy. There are negative consequences for your unborn baby if you drink alcohol while pregnant. Always talk to your doctor about your concerns! Thankfully, a glass or two of wine before taking a pregnancy test won’t make your results wrong!

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