How Early can I take a Pregnancy Test?

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When you are ready to become pregnant, you want to know as soon as possible. However, technology has not advanced in such a way that we are able to know the moment that we become pregnant as much as we would like.

If you do think that you may be pregnant, you should not take a pregnancy test early because your results may be inaccurate. It is best to wait until the proper time frame in order to know for sure whether you are pregnant or not.

1. How does a pregnancy test work?

Pregnancy tests test for hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin. This hormone is one that is found during pregnancy and if the test finds it in your urine, it will test positive. Unfortunately, the body does not begin making this hormone until after the fertilized egg has attached to the uterine wall or until after implantation.

Since implantation occurs six to twelve days after ovulation, detecting pregnancy before this time is currently not available. The absolute soonest that a pregnancy test can test positive for pregnancy is seven days following ovulation.

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It is possible to test sooner, but the majority of women will receive negative results during this time, even if they are pregnant. You may also find that if you test after the seven days that you still receive a false negative because the levels of hCG are not high enough yet for the test to register.

The most accurate testing will occur at least twelve to fourteen days following ovulation. You can then retest after you miss a period if you still receive a negative result during this time. Research shows that about 90% of women test positive on the first day of their missed period, but the remaining 10% will still test negative even when they are pregnant.

2. Testing at Home

When you use an over the counter pregnancy test at home, you will be testing for hCG that will be found in your urine. There are many types of pregnancy tests and every one of them is different and responds to different levels of hCG.

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If you are planning to test early, look for a test that detects at least 20 mIU of hCG. These tests are found almost anywhere that sells general goods, such as grocery stores, drug stores and even convenience stores.

3. When to Test at Home

Home pregnancy tests are usually the most accurate if you use them about the same time that you have missed a period. If you have tried one earlier than this time frame, it is best to wait and test again after you have passed the time of your expected period.

If you still test negative at this time, wait another 48 to 72 hours and test again; after you become pregnant, you hCG levels continue to rise quickly in a short amount of time. You should also follow the instructions carefully when you are using the test.

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Some at home pregnancy tests suggest that you test first thing in the morning with your “first morning stream”. It is believed that hCG levels may be higher or more concentrated at this time than during the remainder of the day because you have been holding urine in your body for the entire night. This may make the test more accurate and show a positive result sooner.

In general, the closer that you get to your period, the more accurate that the test will be and if you are wanting to test early, be sure to look at the accuracy rating that will be listed on the pregnancy test box.

4. Try to Relax

Waiting to take a pregnancy test can be extremely stressful and you may feel that you should push ahead and take one early. However, you should keep in mind that the longer you wait the more accurate that your test will be. If you are unable to wait, be sure to keep an open mind and be prepared to retest again at a later day.

Doctor with laptop and pregnant woman in doctor's office

Once you do receive a positive result, be sure that you talk to your doctor and begin the process of scheduling your first prenatal appointment. Most doctors will not begin seeing you for a few weeks after you have become pregnant, but you should plan ahead and have the appointment scheduled in advance.

How Early can I take a Pregnancy Test?, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Dr. Karen Leham, MD

Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.