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The Language of Infertility: HPT, CBU, POAS, and other fun acronyms about pregnancy testing at home

Home pregnancy tests! Peeing on all the sticks! This is a game that almost every infertility-plagued woman has played.

Whether you started with the Clear Blue 3 days before your period was due or the Dollar Store sourced cheapies to track your trigger shot out, sometimes a little science review can give you some clarity on what is actually happening inside that stick.

All the tests work by the same mechanism- tracking for the presence of ANY human chorionic gonadotropin. That’s the hormone that an embryo secretes upon implantation, and the ONLY WAY (except for a certain special kind of tumor) HCG will end up in your urine (please don’t google “HCG secreting tumor”, you’ve got enough stress in your life already!). The differences in the tests are really related to how sensitive they are and how they translate the positive/negative signals to you, the reader.

Certain tests have lower HCG thresholds than others, meaning you could (theoretically) get a positive reading sooner but all the tests will tell you to wait until 2-3 days after your expected menstrual cycle before you can get a really reliable result.

Some tests will have you look for multiple lines, others for a +, and even others for a smiley face to indicate a positive result. Reality is, you’re a smart lady and you’re going to figure out how to read a real positive (and you’re going to do a handful of these tests), so I don’t think this method is necessarily worth the extra cost.

Another factor to consider is whether you want to hold the test in your hand and use it while you pee or whether you want to pee in a cup and then use a dropper to put some urine onto a test cassette. Personal preference is definitely a factor, but I think cost is a big determining factor here (the cassettes are way cheaper).

Clear Blue Ultras (CBUs) are a favorite among the Fertility-Challenged because they are a tool that can be used to jump out of the purgatory of the TWW (2 week wait) and into the POAS (pee on a stick!) phase.

  • Pros: You can start 3-4 days before your expected period (assuming you have a regular cycle) and the test comes in a holder you can use while you’re urinating so a faster overall process.

  • Cons: $$$

Wondfo brand cassettes are another really popular option, especially for watching the trigger shot wear off (when you’ve done an IUI or IVF transfer) or watching that line darken as you go longer and longer without your period starting.

  • Pros: Cheap! You can buy a BUNCH of tests for the same price as a CBU, which works great for the multi-testers among us!

  • Cons: It’s a multi-step process that requires you to pee in a cup then use the little plastic dropper to get just a few drops of urine onto the test cassette (medical secret? We use the plastic cassettes in clinics when we are running pregnancy tests).

Ultimately, you just need to remember the science is the same so what you’re really paying for is:

A) A theoretically earlier response (you’ll still want to test after your period is due)

B) A simpler process (hold the test in a stream of urine or the 2-step pee-then-transfer system)

C) A smiley face or a “+” which are apparently more readable than the 1 vs 2 pink lines

Are you ready to kick off your fertility journey?

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