Negative pregnancy test but pregnant? Early symptoms, false negatives, mixed-up dates, and the confusing hook effect might be the culprits here.
In the baby books, they say that you can experience pregnancy symptoms from week 6.
In reality, it’s not that simple.
Lots of women “know” that they’re pregnant before they have a positive test result.
They experience early symptoms, or they just have a feeling ‒ it’s hard to put into words something that’s intangible.
It’s frustrating, but it’s very common to have a negative pregnancy test but be pregnant, at different points in your pregnancy or TTC journey.
Here’s what’s going on.
In this article: 📝
- Can I be pregnant and still test negative?
- Why am I testing negative when I’m definitely pregnant?
- I have pregnancy symptoms but negative test, what else could it be?
- Negative pregnancy test and pregnancy loss
- How long can you test negative but be pregnant?
- Negative pregnancy test but pregnant stories
Can I be pregnant and still test negative?
Modern HPTs (home pregnancy tests) are reliable, but, while false positives are extremely rare, false negative pregnancy tests happen all the time, especially in the first few weeks – and even if you’re already experiencing early symptoms.
If you have a negative pregnancy test but you feel pregnant, there are lots of explanations.
Most false negatives happen because it’s tempting to test too early.
HPTs detect hCG, a hormone that your body produces after a fertilized egg implants in your uterine wall and the placenta starts to form.
HCG levels rise exponentially during early pregnancy ‒ the level in your urine should double every 2-3 days ‒ but that does mean that the levels at the beginning are often too low for the test to detect.
You might also have a negative pregnancy test but still be pregnant because your cycle was irregular and you didn’t ovulate when you thought you did.
Even if you’re 100% sure of your dates, make sure you’re using the pregnancy test properly:
- Use the test first thing in the morning, because your first urine of the day has the highest concentration of hCG.
- Wait for as long as you can before you use the test. Even with highly sensitive tests, it’s better to wait until your period is actually late.
- Read the test when the instructions tell you. That line needs time to appear, but waiting too long gives time for an “evaporation line”, which can look like a positive result, to develop.
- Store your pregnancy tests at the right temperature and use them before they expire.
Following all these steps will give you the best chance of avoiding the disappointment of a false negative pregnancy test.
But it is still possible to get a negative pregnancy test when pregnant.
Can you still be pregnant with a negative blood test?
Yes, it’s possible, but it is very rare.
Blood pregnancy tests are one of the most accurate ways to detect pregnancy ‒ about 99% effective, in fact.
And it’s usually because the test wasn’t done properly or it was done too early.
Why am I testing negative when I’m definitely pregnant?
There are lots of reasons why you could be testing negative when you’re sure you’re pregnant.
- You might be using the pregnancy test wrong: It’s easier than you think to get it wrong!
- The test might be past its expiry date: Yep, even pregnancy tests have a “best before” date.
- Ectopic pregnancy: Sometimes, ectopic pregnancies don’t test positive, so it’s important to visit your doctor if you think you might be pregnant, even if the tests aren’t positive.
- The hook effect: A weird phenomenon that happens when your hCG levels are too high to register as positive, which can happen if you’re further along in your pregnancy, if you’re expecting multiples (twins, triplets, and quadruplets), and some fertility meds can cause higher levels of hCG.
I have pregnancy symptoms but negative test, what else could it be?
Annoyingly, early pregnancy symptoms can be pretty similar to PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) symptoms.
So that can make things really confusing.
Pregnancy symptoms and a negative test may also be an early indicator of pregnancy loss (also known as a chemical pregnancy) ‒ sometimes, your body takes a little longer to process what it’s been through.
This can be tough, but it’s also important to mention to your doctor if you think you might have had or be having a chemical pregnancy, just in case.
Negative pregnancy test and pregnancy loss
Early pregnancy loss and miscarriage without symptoms are sadly quite common.
If statistics are taken based on blood tests from just after implantation (so around a week before a traditional HPT would give an accurate result), as many as 30% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage.
However, if you’re trying to conceive and using HPTs around the time your period is due, a negative result does not necessarily mean pregnancy loss.
The only clear indication of miscarriage, which would still have to be confirmed by a doctor, would be to have a positive result followed by an increasingly faint line if you tested again in the following days.
This would indicate that the hCG levels in your body were falling instead of rising.
How long can you test negative but be pregnant?
Many test positive earlier than that, but in general, most people stop getting negative tests while pregnant at about 21 days after their previous period.
But it’s not always that cut-and-dry ‒ there are still lots of people who are pregnant but test negative for weeks after their first pregnancy symptoms.
It’s all down to hCG levels ‒ too low, and they won’t be picked up by the home pregnancy test.
Too high, and they also won’t register on pregnancy tests.
But the “too high” threshold is pretty high, so chances are, you’ll test positive before you test negative if this is the case.
Can you be 5 weeks pregnant and test negative?
Yes, sometimes, you can be 5 weeks pregnant and still be testing negative.
This is rare, however, so it might be that your calculations are a bit off ‒ or that your ovulation cycle is longer than most.
The fifth week of pregnancy is five weeks after the first day of your last period and three weeks after ovulation.
In other words, you may be about a week late.
Although your hormone levels will be rising, it’s still possible that they’re too low to register on a home pregnancy test.
So you may have to wait a little longer before you get your positive.
Can you be 6 weeks pregnant and test negative?
Yes, there have been cases where a woman has been 6 weeks pregnant with a negative pregnancy test and had a healthy baby about 34 weeks later.
If you’re sure of your dates but still testing negative at home, it’s worth visiting your gynecologist for a blood test or an early ultrasound.
Can you be 7 weeks pregnant and test negative?
Yes, it’s rarer still to be 7 weeks pregnant but still testing negative, but it might be a sign that you’re expecting multiples (with your hCG levels being too high to register on a pregnancy test).
Again, it’s worth checking in with your doctor for a blood pregnancy test or an ultrasound.
Can you be 2 months pregnant and still have a negative test?
By two months, a negative pregnancy test almost always means that your period is late for a different reason.
Although hCG levels rise to a peak and then fall again, they’re usually still climbing until the end of the first trimester.
If it’s unusual for you to be six weeks late, you’re testing negative, and you were also testing negative earlier in your cycle, it’s probably time to make an appointment with your doctor – especially if you have symptoms of note.
Negative pregnancy test but pregnant stories
If you’re not sure whether you’re pregnant or not after a negative pregnancy test, you’re not alone.
There are thousands of women, just like you:
- “I had unprotected sex 21 days ago and I have irregular periods! All my tests BFN! 1-3 periods a year since 2019 from my first period. They last 2-5 weeks long. I didn’t think I was able to get pregnant due to my really really bad irregular periods but I went to the doctor and they said I was healthy and able to still get pregnant. Then recently I haven’t been starting my period when this happens and I swear my body feels different than ever. Never felt this way. No PCOS, no cysts, no disease/infection. I have every symptom in the book and experienced implantation bleeding even around 8 and 9 days. I’m experiencing: nausea, more watery creamy white to pale yellow discharge, dizziness, extreme fatigue, mood swings, mild abdominal pain, heartburn, sore/achy muscles, insomnia, disorientation, and back pains. Update: one day later, I got my BFP!” ‒ Jasmine
- “I took a test every week for 4 weeks and that’s how I happened to catch I was pregnant. I got it right when my hormones were just barely strong enough to register.” ‒ Leti
- “I tried standard supermarket tests and they all came up negative. Splurged and got a Clearblue, got my positive.” ‒ Lauren
- “My sister had to do a blood test ‘cause her pee never tested right.” ‒ Britney
- “Someone I know found out at 19 DPO, as long as Aunt Flo hasn’t shown up, keep positive.” ‒ Rissa
- “I used First Response early ones at first from about 9 DPO and they were all negative. Then on 13 DPO, I got a very faint line on a Clearblue dye one and then positive on digital the next day!” ‒ Jessica
- “I’m currently a week late, with no signs of AF (aka Aunt Flo, your period), and as strange as it may sound, I do feel pregnant. Like I just know that I am. 🤷🏽♀️ Tests are coming back either white as hell or a faint line that only my wife and I can see. If I am, I’d be 4 + 5 now so just gotta try and keep positive.” ‒ Jess
- “I had a positive test, then negative. No AF, at day 65.” ‒ Hope
So there you have it ‒ it is possible to get a negative pregnancy test but be pregnant.
If it’s still within a month or two of your last period (particularly if they’re irregular), keep taking tests and pay a visit to your doctor, just in case.
And if you want to talk to other women who are in the same boat, you’re sure to find your people on Peanut.