How soon can I take a pregnancy test?

You can take a pregnancy test on the first day of a missed period.
You can take a pregnancy test on the first day of a missed period.

You may take a pregnancy test as soon as you miss a period or if your period is late. You would know the date of your missed period if your periods are regular. If  your periods are irregular, or you do not have periods for some reason, you can do a pregnancy test at least three weeks after having sexual intercourse. It is recommended to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible if you miss your period or if you think you might be pregnant. Knowing about your pregnancy early helps you plan accordingly and seek the necessary care. You must read the instructions in your test kit to know about the accuracy of the test and how and when to perform the test. Some pregnancy tests claim that they can give results a few days before a missed period. The results of testing this early are often less accurate.

Certain pregnancy tests may detect pregnancy hormones as soon as 10 days after unprotected intercourse. These tests have high chances of inaccuracy and giving false-positive or false-negative test results.

How do pregnancy tests work?

Pregnancy tests are a quick and easy means to know whether you are pregnant. Most at-home pregnancy tests work by detecting the levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in your urine. HCG is also known as the pregnancy hormone because the levels of this hormone increase considerably when you get pregnant. This hormone is released when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus (the endometrium). Thus, when you pee or dip the test stick into your urine, it detects whether HCG is present in your urine.

Most pregnancy tests can be taken beginning on the first day of your missed period. Because the HCG concentration increases rapidly (doubling every two to three days), taking a test early may not be accurate enough. Refer to the label instructions in your test kit to know the best time to take the test. It is generally advised to take the test the first thing in the morning because during this time the urine will have the highest concentration of HCG. Drinking a lot of water before the test may dilute the HCG levels in your urine, increasing the chance of a false-negative test result.

How accurate are home pregnancy tests?

Home pregnancy tests are quite accurate and reliable when you use them correctly. Most home pregnancy tests available at drugstores claim that they work 99 out of 100 times. Their accuracy is similar to that of a urine pregnancy test that you get in a doctor’s office or hospital. 

Because these tests work by detecting the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone in your urine, their accuracy might be lower in early pregnancy or when you have just missed your period. If your pregnancy test comes out negative but you feel that you might be pregnant, repeat the test a week after the date you missed your period. You may want to visit your healthcare provider if you are not confident about the result of your pregnancy test.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/15/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

Mayo Clinic


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