Timeline of getting pregnant
Many mothers-to-be are often wondering, how soon can I take a pregnancy test? You cannot detect pregnancy at week one since the hormonal changes detected by the at-home pregnancy tests haven't started happening in your body yet.
While your physician starts counting the days or weeks of the pregnancy from the first day of your most recent period, it does not mean you are pregnant during the first two weeks. Rather, your body is just preparing to release the egg from the ovaries in a process called ovulation.
To understand how pregnancy is detected, it's important to be familiar with the timeline. Day 1 is the first day of your last menstrual cycle. Depending on the length of your cycle, you will ovulate 14 days from the day your period started.
In ovulation, an egg is released from the ovary. The sperm fertilizes the egg. On the fifth or sixth day following ovulation, the fertilized egg is implanted or burrowed in the womb.
Once implantation has occurred, a woman's body starts producing a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). HCG is the hormone a pregnancy test will detect. Typically, the body produces detectable levels of hCG around eight days following implantation.
However, this doesn't mean you can detect pregnancy eight days after ovulation since the time for implantation varies among individuals. Keep in mind that hCG is only produced once implantation has occurred. Therefore, the detection of pregnancy depends on the time of implantation rather than ovulation.
When to take a pregnancy test
How soon can I take a pregnancy test? If you're wondering this, the best time to take a pregnancy test is on the day you expect to get your period. By then, enough time would have passed for ovulation and implantation to occur.
It's best to take the test in the morning since you'll have concentrated urine. If the urine is concentrated, the pregnancy test can detect hCG levels more accurately.
Don't drink a lot of water or other fluids before you take an at-home pregnancy test. Some people load up on fluids because they think it will increase their urine volume. However, a high concentration of fluids can dilute your urine, making it hard for the pregnancy test to detect hCG levels.
Can pregnancy tests be wrong?
At-home pregnancy tests are generally 99% accurate. It means they can detect the presence of hCG in 99% of the women. However, this is only true if you take the test at the right time and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
While it may sound simple, it's a bit tricky. For one, you need to make sure you're not taking the test too early in the pregnancy. If you take it during the first week, implantation might not have occurred. Without implantation, hCG production has not started. Therefore, the pregnancy test will come out negative even though you're pregnant.
Besides timing, the procedure also impacts the accuracy of the pregnancy test. Most at-home pregnancy tests need a concentrated amount of urine to detect hCG levels. That's why it's recommended to take the test in the morning. All tests have a certain hCG concentration they're designed to detect. Thus, a test could give a false negative if your urine isn't concentrated enough. A false negative means you're pregnant, but the test shows you're not.
You may also have a false positive, which means the test shows you're pregnant, but you're not. For example, it could happen in the case of a chemical pregnancy. In such a pregnancy, the egg implants in the womb for a short period, but the pregnancy is not sustained by the body. Since the egg did implant, hCG production will begin. If you take the test before your period, you'll get a positive result. But since the body could not sustain the pregnancy, you'll get your period on time.
In rare cases, hCG production could also be the result of a tumor. The pregnancy test may detect hCG produced by the tumor, showing a false positive.
Common pregnancy symptoms
For most women, a missed period is the first sign of pregnancy. After the sperm has fertilized the egg, the body produces particular hormones to stop ovulation and uterine shedding.
During your period, the lining of the uterus sheds since there's no egg to implant. Once an egg is available, this lining is needed to sustain the pregnancy. Therefore, the body stops shedding, and you don't get your period during your pregnancy.
However, a missed period doesn't automatically indicate pregnancy. You may miss your period due to dieting, exercising too much, stress, and other factors. That's why it's important to look for other symptoms of pregnancy.
If you're going to the bathroom more than usual, it could be a sign of pregnancy. The blood supply in your body increases during pregnancy. As a result, your kidneys work harder to filter blood, removing the waste from it. Your body removes this waste through the urine. That's why you have to go pee more often.
Don't be fooled by the name. Morning sickness can continue till noon or even night. For some women, it starts early in the pregnancy, while others experience morning sickness in the later months. You may vomit excessively or just feel nauseous. The effects can differ among women.
As the hormone levels increase in the body, your breasts may become sore to touch. The nipples can also grow in size and get darker. You'll also notice an increase in your breast size.
During pregnancy, your body produces high levels of progesterone. The hormone is one of the reasons you may feel tired during pregnancy. For most women, the tiredness is lower in the second trimester. However, you may feel extremely tired in the third trimester again.
Besides these common signs, you may also experience dizziness and headaches. Some women also have a metallic taste in their mouths.
You'll also notice your relationship with food changing. Some foods may start seeming unpleasant while others seem amazing. You may have cravings for certain foods or stop liking foods that you previously loved eating.
If you have these symptoms, take an at-home pregnancy test. If the test is positive, consult a physician for further guidance.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Cleveland Clinic: "Pregnancy: Am I Pregnant," "Pregnancy Tests."
NHS: "You and your pregnancy at 1 to 3 weeks."
UTSouthwestern Medical Center: "How early can home pregnancy tests show positive results?"
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