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Best Time to Take a Pregnancy Test

Taking a pregnancy test is a cornerstone of family planning. Whether you’re at a place where your hoping to get pregnant or one where you’re hoping a baby isn’t going to be part of your near future, the pregnancy test can be a source of anticipation, anxiety, celebration and relief.

When Is the Best Time to Take a Pregnancy Test?

Though it can be clouded by an eager heart and mind, the most important goal of taking a pregnancy test should be to get the most accurate results possible. That means timing is key.

Generally, the best time to take a pregnancy test is the first day your period is missed or late. There are other options, which are discussed in detail below, that may get you a result more quickly.

How soon can you take a pregnancy test?

You may technically take a pregnancy test whenever your wish, but the accuracy of your results will be compromised. If you experience early signs of pregnancy you may be tempted to take a pregnancy test before your missed period. However, a negative result before then could be wrong. If you go this route, be sure to retest after enough time has passed.

When To Take A Home Pregnancy Test

Taking a home pregnancy test is the most common solution women turn to to answer the question, “Am I pregnant?” You’re most likely to get an accurate result with a home pregnancy test if you take it the first day of your late or missed menstrual cycle.

When to take a pregnancy blood test

Pregnancy blood tests are available through your doctor and offer a more accurate result, sooner. Pregnancy tests work by detecting levels of hCG, a pregnancy hormone, present in a woman’s body. Home pregnancy tests in which you “pee on a stick” can detect hCG levels at a concentration of roughly 50 units, whereas blood tests can detect hCG at a concentration of just five units. Blood pregnancy tests can begin detecting pregnancy approximately 8–10 days post-ovulation.

Why take a pregnancy blood test?

Most women do not need to take a pregnancy blood test as urine tests after a missed period are quite accurate. Your doctor will then confirm the pregnancy with a transvaginal ultrasound about eight weeks after your last period.

However, for women at risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, early pregnancy tests results can make a difference. Early results give doctors of patients with this kind of medical history more time to ensure that the pregnancy is starting out as it should.

Peace of mind is another driver toward pregnancy blood tests. For women who receive a positive pregnancy result at home, it is not often necessary. But for those experiencing symptoms and/or who feel untrusting of a negative at-home result may want their results confirmed by the more accurate blood test.

Can you take a pregnancy test at any time of the day?

Urine pregnancy tests are most accurate in the morning. This is even more so if you decide to take the test when you’re not yet late or only a day or two late with your period. Pregnancy tests can be accurate at any time of the day, but the chances of getting a false negative are higher if you take the test anytime but the morning or drink a lot of water before taking the test.

Why is morning urine best for taking a pregnancy test?

Urine is generally more concentrated when you wake up since the morning follows the longest period of the day without water and going to the bathroom. Since urine pregnancy tests work by detecting levels of hCG present in the urine, a more concentrated sample equates to a more accurate result.

When is the best time to take a pregnancy test if you’re on birth control?

If you’re on birth control and think you may be pregnant you should take a test after your missed period for the most accurate results. Most women on birth control have a better hold on the cycle of their schedule, making it easier to know exactly when a missed period will occur.

Nausea and vomiting are early signs of pregnancy. Even if you are on birth control, you should pay close attention to these early warning signs and take a pregnancy test if you think you may be pregnant.

When is the best time to take a pregnancy test if you have irregular periods?

If you have an idea of when you may have conceived, the best way for women who have regular periods to determine when to take a pregnancy test is to calculate two weeks after that date. This would represent what would be a late period in a normal cycle.

Women with irregular periods should also listen to their bodies for early signs of pregnancy if you think you may be pregnant or are hoping to become pregnant. These symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and breast tenderness. If you feel these symptoms and get negative result, but the symptoms persist, consider taking another test a week later to confirm the result as it may have been too early to detect pregnancy the first time around.

When is the best time to take a pregnancy test after ovulation?

You are likely to get accurate pregnancy test results 10 days after ovulation (conception). It is best to wait until a few days into your missed period as it’s often difficult to determine the exact date of ovulation.

When is the best time to take a pregnancy test after missed period?

If you’re well acquainted with your cycle and experience regular periods, taking a pregnancy test the first day of your missed period can yield an accurate result. If your cycle is less known or reliable, waiting a few days into your missed period will up your chances of an accurate home pregnancy test result.

After how many days can pregnancy be confirmed by a urine test?

Pregnancy can be confirmed by a urine test about 10 days after conception. This coincides with the first day of your missed period.

How can I increase my chances of getting an accurate reading?

One way to increase your chances of getting an accurate pregnancy test reading is to take it at the right time. Pregnancy cannot be detected until 10 days or so after conception, which coincides with the first day of your missed period. Testing before this date will often yield a negative result even if you are pregnant. If you’re on the cusp of this timing, you may also see a faint line on the pregnancy test, which indicates a low level of hCG—wait a couple of days and retest to be sure.

Another way to increase accuracy is to take the test in the morning when urine is more concentrated, making it easier to detect the pregnancy hormone hCG, which is what the test is measuring. Finally, and this may sound obvious, be sure the pregnancy test isn’t expired. Pregnancy tests rely on chemical reactions to get results. If the test you are using is expired, those reactions can be compromised as well as your results.

What causes a false negative pregnancy test?

False negative pregnancy tests are most caused by timing. If you take a test too early, there will not be enough hCG built up in the body to detect.

What causes a false positive pregnancy test?

There are three common causes of false positive pregnancy test results:

Chemical pregnancy

A false positive pregnancy test is usually caused by something called a chemical pregnancy, which results in a very early and often undetectable miscarriage. If you have a heavier period that comes late, this may indicate a chemical pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage.

Medications

Injections of hCG are often used to stimulate ovulation. If you’re using these treatments you may get a false positive pregnancy test result since that’s what the tests use to detect pregnancy. Other medications that can cause a false positive pregnancy test result include: antihistamines, antianxiety medications, diuretics, antipsychotics and Parkinson’s disease medications.

Recent birth or miscarriage

HCG levels spike quickly but dwindle slowly. If you recently had a baby or experienced a miscarriage there may be detectable amounts of the pregnancy hormone left in your body—enough to yield a positive pregnancy test result.

How can you avoid a false positive pregnancy test?

You can avoid a false positive pregnancy test by waiting at least a week after your missed period to take the test.

What type of pregnancy test is best?

While blood tests are more accurate earlier on in pregnancy, at home tests are quite accurate when done at the right time. If you follow directions on timing and testing, you can easily get an accurate result from either.

Could medications interfere with pregnancy test results?

Hormonal fertility medications as well as some other medications—antihistamines, antianxiety medications, diuretics, antipsychotics and Parkinson’s disease medications—can cause a false positive pregnancy test result as they may increase the level of hCG found in the body without you being pregnant.

Can drinking a lot of water affect pregnancy test results?

Being extra hydrated dilutes urine, which is what’s used to determine pregnancy using at-home tests. It will be more difficult to detect hCG levels in more diluted urine. This is why taking a test in the morning, when you’ve likely gone the longest period of the day without water, can yield more accurate results

Can I take a pregnancy test too late?

If you are unsure whether or not you are pregnant, it is never too late to take a pregnancy test. If you’ve received negative results at home that you do not feel satisfied with, consider visiting your doctor for a second opinion.