When you're trying to get pregnant or think you might be, it's easy to spend a lot of money on pregnancy tests because you just really want to know. So should you go with pricier tests with the digital displays, or try to save by going with store brands or, if you're really thrifty, the ones that sell for a buck at the dollar store?
Is one really better than the other?
In a word, no. In the United States, pregnancy tests are regulated by the FDA, so tests sold by reputable retailers in America are legit. They all pretty much work the same way, even the super cheap ones.
So whether you're paying $24 for a box of stick-style tests or $4 for 4 cassette-style tests, your results are likely to be the same, but the way you get to that pink line is going to be a bit different. The lower end tests are potentially messier.
Stick versus cassette
When we think of pregnancy tests most of us think of the stick-style, mid-stream tests we see advertised on TV. You hold the test strip side of the stick in your urine stream while peeing, and you're done.
The lower cost cassette-style tests require a bit more work. Instead of peeing on them, you have to collect your urine (cups for this purpose are not included in the kits) and then use a small plastic pipette included in the kit to drop your urine onto the test strip.
The FDA notes that tests vary in their ability to detect low levels of hCG, the pregnancy hormone, and that while "there are some tests for sale that are sensitive enough to show you are pregnant before you miss your period, for the most reliable results, test 1-2 weeks after you miss your period."
Check the package of the test to see how many units of hCG it can detect. The lower the number, the more sensitive the test.
Some stick-style tests that promise early results can pick up less than 25 mIU/hCG, but many other top brands pick up 50 mIU/hCG, the same level as the dollar store tests and many generic store brands.
When it comes to pregnancy tests, price tags are not always a good indicator of sensitivity. Rest assured, a positive on the cheap tests means as much as a positive on the pricey ones.