How Accurate Is a Pregnancy Test after IVF?

A blood test is used to measure a woman's production of the HCG hormone during pregnancy.
Home pregnancy test showing positive and negative results.
An ultrasound can be done to confirm pregnancy when an IVF may have hindered a pregnancy test.
Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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The accuracy of a pregnancy test after in vitro fertilization (IVF) will depend on the type of hormonal supplements and medications given during the course of treatment. Many women will receive injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (Hcg) to help sustain any resulting pregnancy, and this could cause pregnancy test results to be inaccurate. This is because Hcg is the same hormone produced by a developing embryo and is the one detected by most pregnancy tests to give a positive result. Artificial injections of Hcg could lead to a false positive.

In women who receive Hcg during the course of treatment, a pregnancy test after IVF may not be accurate if they are not actually pregnant. A home pregnancy test could pick up on the artificial hormones and give a positive result even in women who are not pregnant. Women who are in fact pregnant, though, will receive an accurate result. As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to wait 24 hours after every 1,000 units of Hcg given during treatment. After this time, a pregnancy test should be accurate, although every woman should discuss testing protocol with her doctor.

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Women who do not receive Hcg during treatments may yield the same accuracy levels as any other woman when taking a pregnancy test after IVF. Most home pregnancy tests are about 99% accurate when taken one day after a missed menstrual period. When taken earlier, it is possible to get a false negative result because Hcg may not be present in high enough quantities for a standard test to detect at that time. Each type and brand of test may have its own sensitivity rating, so women are encouraged to research the kind they will be using.

No pregnancy test should be read after ten minutes has passed. Although rare, false positives have been known to appear once the testing period has lapsed. Any lines appearing after ten minutes are called evaporation lines, and they are the result of moisture evaporating off the test strip where a positive result would have appeared.

Most of the time women will be advised to take a pregnancy test after IVF in a doctor’s office or fertility clinic to ensure the most accurate results. Improperly taken tests could affect the outcome. Under the controlled atmosphere of a clinic, results may be more accurate. Blood tests which test the exact level of Hcg in the a woman’s system are the most accurate and are right nearly 100% of the time.

If a pregnancy test after IVF is negative, but no menstrual period comes after several weeks, a second test may be given. False negatives are fairly common when using urine tests and are usually the result of testing too early. An ultrasound may also be performed to attempt to detect a potential pregnancy, or to determine what other factors may be preventing the onset of a period.

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Discuss this Article

anon931194
Post 5

I had my IVF in January and the embryo transfer about two weeks ago. Both the urine test and hcg were negative, but my period is five days late. I am just going crazy.

The treatment was so hard and the two weeks waiting time as well. What should I do now? I have a friend who had three IVF treatments and none of them worked out. Her period came on the exact day when it had to come. I don't really know what to do. I am on the 15th day after the transfer. Should I go for an ultrasound scan?

anon358737
Post 4

I transferred two frozen embryos, both grade 4AA on 11/5. Today is seven days post transfer and I tested negative with the First Response Home Pregnancy Test. Was I testing too soon?

burcinc
Post 3

@anamur-- Home pregnancy tests are not very accurate in general, and they are even less accurate after an IVF.

What determines pregnancy is rising Hcg levels and a home pregnancy test doesn't measure that. It simply says whether there is Hcg in the system or not. If the Hcg is constant, it tells you you're pregnant even though you're not. If Hcg is too low but rising, it tells you you're not pregnant even though you are. Where is the accuracy in that? Blood tests and ultrasound are the only accurate ways of determining pregnancy.

donasmrs
Post 2

@anamur-- You can do a home pregnancy test after an IVF transfer, while you wait for the official blood test. But wait for at least a week after the IVF to do it. If you test before this, the results will probably not be accurate.

Did you have a three day transfer or a five day one? I had a three day one and my doctor specifically told me not to do any tests at home for the next six days after my IVF. She said that the ovulation shot I received before the IVF is still in my system and I might get a false positive. The ovulation shot has the pregnancy hormone like the article said.

If you can manage and wait for the official test, that's probably best. I know a few people who got inaccurate results with home pregnancy tests during the two week wait. To say the least, they were devastated when they got the blood test results. It's not worth the worry and anxiety, two weeks is not that long.

serenesurface
Post 1

I just had an IVF transfer and I have to wait two weeks for my beta hCG blood test at the doctor's office. Should I do a home pregnancy test before it's time for the blood test?

A part of me says to wait but another part is impatient and I'm considering doing a home pregnancy test next week just out of curiosity.

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