You can take a pregnancy test as soon as you miss your period, but it is best to wait until at least one week after a missed period for more accurate results. If you are unsure about when your period is due, take a test 21 days after you had unprotected sex.
Ideally, you should not take a pregnancy test until the first day of your next scheduled period. Although you can test sooner, testing too soon means you may not have human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG; the hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy) in your system for the test to detect, which can lead to a false negative result.
Since your hCG levels will double every 2-3 days throughout early pregnancy, you will get more accurate results if you wait a few days to take a test.
If you have a 28-day menstrual cycle, you should wait 29 days after the first day of your previous period or 14 days past ovulation to take a pregnancy test. If you have irregular cycles, try counting back at least 14 days from the last time you had sex.
How do home pregnancy tests work?
Home pregnancy tests come with a strip that can detect human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) present in your urine. This method of testing is very reliable and accurate.
However, negative results may occur if you take the test too early when your hCG levels are too low, and you may have to repeat the test after a few days if you suspect pregnancy.
Early morning urine is the most concentrated, so testing in the morning will give you more accurate results. Diluted urine can give you false negative results.
What tests can confirm pregnancy?
Your body starts producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in large amounts immediately after implantation of the embryo into your uterine wall.
Once implantation is successful, hCG levels begin to double every 48 to 72 hours. Then, hCG is detectable in both your urine and blood:
- Home pregnancy tests (HPTs) are urine tests
- hCG in urine can be detected 21 days following unprotected sex
- Fastest way of testing and can be done in the comfort of your home
- Only available at a doctor's office, and not commonly used as a standard measure, as blood tests are costly
- Will not give you an immediate response like a urine test; may take several hours to a day
- More sensitive than a urine test and can detect pregnancy as early as 9 to 12 days after conception
- Pregnancy blood tests are classified into two types which include:
- Quantitative blood tests or beta hCG tests, which measure the precise quantity of hCG in your blood
- Qualitative hCG blood tests, which show whether the hormone is present in your blood
Can you get a false positive or negative result?
False positive pregnancy tests are quite rare but can occur in the following situations:
- Chemical pregnancy (you had a pregnancy loss too soon after the fertilized egg attached to the womb lining)
- Ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized egg got attached at an abnormal site such as the fallopian tube instead of its normal place in the womb)
- Hormonal irregularities due to conditions such as menopause or certain ovarian diseases
- Taking the test too soon after taking a fertility drug that contains human chorionic gonadotropin
False negatives are far more common and may occur if a test is taken too soon. If there are insufficient amounts of hCG present, the test may be negative. If you still suspect you are pregnant despite the negative result, wait a few days before testing again. If you continue to receive negative test results but your period has not arrived, see a doctor.
What are early signs of pregnancy?
If you are unsure whether you are pregnant, you should monitor yourself for early signs and symptoms of pregnancy, which may include:
- Swollen and tender breasts
- Nausea (with or without vomiting) that may occur at any time of the day
- Increased urination
- Mood changes
- Changes in weight
If you get a positive pregnancy test, your obstetrician can help you plan ahead to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
How Soon Is the Earliest You Can Test for Pregnancy?: https://willowwomenscenter.org/2020/05/26/too-early-to-test-for-pregnancy/
When is the best time to take a pregnancy test? https://health.osu.edu/health/sexual-health/best-time-to-take-pregnancy-test
Pregnancy Tests: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/pregnancy-tests
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