How Soon Can You Take A Pregnancy Test

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
April 18, 2020

Happy couple smiling after find out positive pregnancy test

There are many events in life that can lead to needing to take a pregnancy test. Perhaps you’re in the process of trying to conceive, and you want to check if the time has come. Alternatively, you may be noticing changes in your body, and you have reason to believe that pregnancy may be the cause. Either way, you’ll likely obtain some form of pregnancy test and want to take it.

You certainly can take a pregnancy test at any time, but you may not be getting the timing right to yield accurate results. Testing too early can mean you get a false negative, but the urge to know so you can prepare yourself promptly can be too much to bear. So how soon can you take a pregnancy test after your suspected conception?

Looking For Two Weeks Past Ovulation

Pregnant Test

For those that are actively trying to conceive, it’s likely that you’re already aware of your menstrual cycle and when ovulation—the time when the body is ready to conceive—happens. For others that don’t track this information, it can be tricky to know when exactly this date is. However, it’s an integral part of knowing when to take a pregnancy test.

Ovulation occurs in the middle of your menstruation cycle, generally right between periods. For those with twenty-eight-day cycles, two weeks past ovulation is when your period would usually start, so that date is often the time when pregnancy tests are capable of accurately reading whether or not you’ve conceived. 

If you don’t know your exact conception timeframe, you can also keep track of when your period should start based on your regular cycle. If you don’t track your cycle, then you can check around the range when you think you should begin menstruating. 

For those with different length cycles than the average, you can still use the first projected day of your period as a guideline for when a pregnancy test can accurately read your results.

Why Do You Need To Wait For This Time?

Person Wearing White Dress

When you want to conceive a child successfully, your body needs to be in the process of ovulation, where the uterus has prepared an egg for fertilization. If you have sex during this time, then it’s possible that sperm can fertilize the egg, beginning a pregnancy. However, this event isn’t enough for new pregnancy tests to accurately tell if you’ve conceived a child or not. 

This result is because of how these tests tell that you’ve become pregnant. Whether it be urine or a blood sample testing method, they usually depend on the presence of the HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone, which starts to build up as the body begins to enter pregnancy mode. 

However, even though HCG starts to form once the embryo attaches to the uterine lining, that doesn’t mean it’s fully detectable. The amount of HCG that triggers a pregnancy test will usually have built up around the date of your missed period. If you test too early, it’s possible to get a false negative result, only because you don’t have enough of the hormone in your body yet.

When Is It Best To Test?

Aside from waiting for two weeks to pass from your ovulation date, it’s best to take an at-home, urine-based pregnancy test early in the morning and during your first bathroom visit for the day. If this isn’t possible, you can also hold off on using the restroom for several hours. Doing so will allow the test to have an appropriate concentration of HCG hormone in your body to provide a better result.

Is It Possible To Get Results Sooner?

Newer advancements in HCG detection have made the answer to “how soon can you take a pregnancy test?” become a little less clear than it was before. Some at home urine tests make it possible to detect the HCG hormone levels as early as seven to ten days past ovulation. These results are possible because the tests are more sensitive than others, and will give a positive outcome with lower levels of HCG present.

Additionally, there are also blood-based pregnancy tests, which make it possible to determine if you’re pregnant by reading the HCG levels in your blood. Depending on the test you take, you can have a simple yes or no answer about your pregnancy, or you can learn about the specific levels of HCG in your body, which can help to track the state of your pregnancy. However, they are more expensive than at home options.

It’s also essential to note that, even though these tests can detect pregnancy earlier than two weeks, you’ll have much more certain results if you test at the correct time. No matter whether you receive a positive or negative reading from an initial test, it still helps to check again around the time of your missed period and even once more a week after.

Taking this approach may involve more work. However, it helps to ensure that you get accurate results. It’s much better to be cautious than to risk getting a false negative effect and not having appropriate time to prepare for the child that will start to grow and ultimately enter the world.

What Are Signs That I Should Take A Pregnancy Test?

Even if you know when the correct time is to take a pregnancy test within your menstrual cycle, that doesn’t mean that there’s always a reason to suspect that you may need to use one. Some signs to look out for include:

  • A missed period. One of the most apparent signs of possible pregnancy is missing your period, though this can be hard to recognize if you don’t regularly track your cycle. When in doubt, you should consider taking a pregnancy test if more than a month has passed since your last period. Even so, changes in diet, exercise, and stress levels can also impact your cycle.
  • Unusual blood flow. As the egg starts to become implanted in the uterine lining, it’s possible for light bleeding or spotting to occur during the early weeks after conception. While a small amount of bleeding is reasonable, you should consult your doctor if you have a positive pregnancy result and ongoing blood.
  • Cramps. Many people experience cramps during their period, and some even start to feel it beforehand. However, implantation can produce similar discomfort, but menstrual bleeding doesn’t follow. This combination can be a potential sign of needing to take a pregnancy test.
  • Discomfort in your breasts. Among the other hormones your body produces during pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone are two of them. These two chemicals help make the changes your body needs to support an infant’s growth. They can also impact your breasts, making them feel more tender and sore. If this isn’t a usual pre-menstruation symptom for you, it can indicate pregnancy.

Aside from these significant indicators, symptoms like nausea, exhaustion, frequent urination and aversion to food can also indicate a possible pregnancy. If you experience any combination of these symptoms, it may be best to take a pregnancy test, especially if you’re sexually active. Even with contraception in use, it’s still possible to become pregnant.

What Should You Do Based On Your Results?

Even once you’ve taken a pregnancy test, that’s only the beginning of the process. If you’ve received a negative result, wait a few days and take another test, just in case. It’s possible that you’ve misread your ovulation date or that your body doesn’t have enough HCG hormone to trigger a positive result. It’s safe to assume that once your period starts, you aren’t pregnant.

However, if you get a positive test result from an at-home test, you should have a different approach. While it can still be helpful to take another test after a few days to confirm the results, even at home pregnancy tests are highly accurate, and you should start to make plans for prenatal care, whether you intend to go through your doctor or you want to use the services of a midwife. 

Seeking professional medical help can also allow you to confirm that your at-home test results are accurate. Either way, starting to make preparations as early as possible can help prevent any potential medical issues for you or your baby along the way. A lot can happen during pregnancy, and after childbirth, so the more prepared you are, the smoother things will go. 

Wrapping Up

Pregnant Woman With Husband

Looking over everything, knowing how soon you can take a pregnancy test is merely one part of a much larger picture when it comes to your health and the growth of your child. Even if you don’t intend to become pregnant, it can still help to know roughly when your menstruation cycle occurs, both for knowing when to test and for better understanding your body.

We hope that you’ve found the help you need in the article!

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