OTC tests are more sensitive than ever, meaning that when they pick up on pregnancy hormones in your pee, the result isn’t always a pregnancy.

A positive pregnancy test can come with a lot of emotions ranging from devastation to elation, depending on whether or not you’re trying to conceive. But what can be even more emotional (and confusing)? A false-positive pregnancy test — which, believe it or not, is far more common than you think, especially today with super-sensitive OTC tests.

So, what is a false-positive pregnancy test and why does it happen? Here, eight possible reasons, plus how to get a more accurate reading on your at-home stick.

What Is a False-Positive Pregnancy Test?

First things first: OTC pregnancy tests measure a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in your urine that’s released in spades during pregnancy — especially at the beginning. As long as you are taking the test correctly (more on that later), a positive result means there is HCG in your urine, explains Jaime Knopman, M.D., director of fertility preservation for CCRM New York.

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