When Is The Best Time To Take A Pregnancy Test

Image: iStock

Trying to conceive or had unprotected sex? Then the one question you will have if you have a missed or delayed period is, “Am I pregnant?” You might be eager to buy that home pregnancy kit and take the test right away. But a home pregnancy test can be tricky if you do not do it properly.

MomJunction helps you know the best time to take the pregnancy test, and what the different lines on the kit indicate.

What Is A Pregnancy Test?

Pregnancy tests are designed to show if your urine contains a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). This hormone is released right after the fertilized egg implants on the uterine lining and keeps doubling every two to three days (1).

You can take the pregnancy test at home or visit an OB-GYN. Home pregnancy test kits are sold in drug stores. If you take the test at home, make sure to follow all the instructions correctly.

However, if you are seeing an OB-GYN, she will test your blood sample. Blood tests are more accurate than the urine tests.

When Is The Best Time To Take A Pregnancy Test?

Still wondering when to take a pregnancy test? You can take a pregnancy test as soon as you miss your monthly menstrual cycle. Sometimes, it also works a few days before the period due date. As mentioned above, the pregnancy kit detects the hCG hormone produced during pregnancy. Your body may be producing this hormone even before your period due date.

However, it is too early to take the test on the days before the missed period. It may give you an inaccurate result. Even if it shows a positive result, it may not develop into a pregnancy because of spontaneous miscarriage.

Therefore, wait until the first day of your missed period (2).

[Read: Pregnancy Symptoms Before Missed Period]

When Are Pregnancy Tests Accurate?

Home pregnancy tests hold an accuracy rate of 99% when used on the first day of the missed period and after. The best time of the day to take a pregnancy test is in the morning when the urine is more concentrated.

The result may not be correct if you take the test too early in the menstrual month, do not use it properly or if the kit has passed the expiry date.

The accuracy of the home test depends on the following factors:

  • How you follow the instructions
  • How soon can you take a pregnancy test
  • When you ovulate and how long it takes to implant
  • You cannot take it too early, but it is never too late to take a pregnancy test. It will be accurate even after several days of conception.

[Read: Dollar Store Pregnancy Test]

When Is The Best Time To Test Pregnancy (Early Symptoms):

Instead of worrying about whether or not you are pregnant, you can check for some signs of pregnancy before you go for the home test (3). Some of the early signs of pregnancy are:

  • Spotting or light bleeding that happens when the embryo implants itself in the uterus.
  • Cramping or a strange feeling of pull in the tummy.
  • Tenderness or swelling of your breasts. You will feel the discomfort and soreness when you touch them, or while wearing a bra.
  • A feeling of tiredness. You will get exhaustive without any apparent reason.
  • A heightened sense of smell.
  • A sudden change in dietary habits. You may either be interested in trying foods you were not fond of earlier or may not want to eat something that you have always loved eating.
  • Awful taste in the mouth.You may notice the above signs and symptoms in the first seven to ten days after ovulation. If you are not sure when you ovulated but can still notice some or all of the symptoms, then take the pregnancy test sooner than later.

[Read: Ways to Confirm Pregnancy Without Doing a Test]

But before taking the test, you should know about the various types of pregnancy tests that are available and how early can pregnancy be detected.

Urine Test

They can be done in the comfort of your home or office and with your choice of when to test. They are the most convenient and private test kits. You can take the test a week after you have missed your periods if you are sexually active.

The home test kits come with instructions which you have to follow for the most accurate results. Once you have taken the test, you can discuss the same with your doctor, depending on the results. Your doctor will perform more sensitive tests to check the status of your pregnancy.

How long will the test take to work?

You can read the result between five and ten minutes. Any lines that you notice after ten minutes could be misleading, and you can ignore them. Also, reading sooner than five minutes would give an inaccurate result.

Image – Positive and negative pregnancy test result

Image: Shutterstock

How does a positive pregnancy test look like?

If the test result is positive, you will notice a second line along with the control line that is already present in the test. This second line will appear after the urine sample passes through the strip.

A few tests will have two individual windows, and if it is a positive result, the lines appear in both the windows. Some other kits have a cross design to show positive pregnancy result.

In some cases, you may not be pregnant but still, show a positive result. This is referred to as a false-positive result, which will happen due to following reasons:

  • Your urine may contain blood or protein.
  • You are on medications such as anticonvulsants, tranquilizers, and hypnotics.
  • hCG may be released from pituitary at your LH (luteinizing hormone) peak time.
  • High proportions of early pregnancies would be miscarried even before the next period. Taking a test very early can detect a false pregnancy.
  • There would be elevated levels of hCG hormone in women at their perimenopausal stage.
  • Those undergoing treatment for infertility may show the false positive result if they test within ten days of the last hCG treatment.

How does a negative pregnancy test look like?

If the test result is negative, the kit displays only the control line and nothing else. You can retest about a week later to double-check.

In some cases, you may be pregnant even after you get a negative result. This is referred to as a false-negative result, which will happen due to following reasons:

  • The test kit passed its expiry date.
  • You have not followed the instructions correctly.
  • If the urine sample has been sitting for a long time, i.e., 30 minutes or more, it can give a false negative result.
  • You test at a very early stage when enough hCG is not produced.
  • Your urine is highly diluted if you have taken large amounts of fluids just before the test.
  • If you are on any medications such as antihistamines and diuretics.

[Read: What Is False Negative Pregnancy Test]

What does a faint line on a pregnancy test indicate?

Sometimes, the test result shows a faint line, which indicates a low count of hCG hormone in the urine sample. The reason for the line to be fainter is because the concentration of the hormone is very low in the early pregnancy. On the other hand, the line may be darker if your pregnancy has progressed enough for a higher concentration of the hormone.

Blood Tests To Confirm Pregnancy:

The blood test is done at a medical center or in your doctor’s clinic. However, they are less chosen than the urine tests (4).

The good thing is they will be able to detect the status of your pregnancy earlier than a urine test; that is as early as six to eight days after your ovulation. However, they take a longer time to produce the results.

You doctor will opt for one of the two types of blood tests:

Qualitative hCG test: It will check your blood sample for any traces of hCG, and thereby your pregnancy status. Your doctor may recommend this test ten days after a missed period. However, the qualitative hCG test can detect your levels of hCG even earlier.

Quantitative hCG test (beta-hCG): It measures the exact amount of hCG in the blood sample and can detect the very low levels of the hormone in the early stages of pregnancy. It measures the concentration and thus tracks any pregnancy complications.

The test is also used in combination with other tests to rule out the possibility of an ectopic or tubal pregnancy, and to monitor your body system after a miscarriage when hCG levels fall rapidly.

A home pregnancy test is the most convenient way to find out if you are pregnant. You can test in privacy and get the result within minutes. However, it can go wrong sometimes. On the contrary, blood tests are accurate but are tedious. You need to take an appointment and visit a doctor, give your blood samples and then wait for the outcome. Therefore, it is for you to decide which one is the best for you.

[Read: Faint Line On Pregnancy Test]

Now when you are well acquainted with testing for pregnancy, do tell us which test do you prefer? Share your opinion with us in the below comment section.

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Dr. Asmita Kaundal

Dr. Kaundal has 10 years of experience as an obstetrician and gynecologist and is currently working as a consultant IVF at Matritava Advanced IVF and Training Centre, New Delhi. She has previously worked at Lady Hardinge Medical College, MKW and IMB IVF centre, Apollo Cradle Royale and AIIMS, New Delhi. She was a research officer at WHO Collabrating center at... more

Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She has been into health and wellness writing since 2010. She received her graduate degree in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig... more