1. Getting pregnant
  2. Trying to conceive
  3. Pregnancy tests

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When to Take a Pregnancy Test: What You Need to Know

Choosing when to take a pregnancy test is an important decision. Whether you’re hoping for a big fat positive or a big fat negative, taking an early test can quickly confirm your hopes or relieve your concerns.

How soon can you take a pregnancy test after sex?

Although you might be eager to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible, it’s best to wait until your period is a week late to get the most accurate result. If you can’t wait until your period, let at least one to two weeks pass after you have sex before taking a pregnancy test

It’s important to wait, because your body needs to develop enough of the pregnancy hormone hCG that a pregnancy test can detect it. In most cases, home pregnancy tests can detect levels of hCG around 10 days after successful implantation of an egg (which doesn’t happen immediately after sex). If you take the test too early, you might get a negative result (even if you are pregnant). 

When is the best time to take a pregnancy test: morning or night?

If you want to know how early you can take a pregnancy test, you might also wonder when the best time to take a pregnancy test is. Is it best to take it in the morning or at night? To get an accurate result, most experts recommend taking a pregnancy test in the morning. Why? While you’re sleeping, hCG becomes more concentrated in your urine. Unless you wake up in the middle of the night to pee, first thing in the morning is the best time for early detection of pregnancy. 

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This doesn’t mean you can’t take a pregnancy test later in the day. It just means that you’re more likely to get a false-negative, especially if you’ve been drinking a lot of water. It’s easy to forget in the morning, so it might be helpful to leave yourself a note the night before. You can close the lid of the toilet and leave a note there to remind yourself. 

What if you have an unconventional sleep schedule and can’t test your urine first thing in the morning? You can increase the level of hCG in your urine by not using the bathroom for at least four hours. 

Before taking a pregnancy test, don’t drink more water than you normally would. Drinking a lot of water can dilute your urine and affect the result of your test. 

If you got a negative result but still think you might be pregnant, take the test again after several days. False positives and false negatives are rare, but they do happen. Repeating a test can also be a good idea.

When is it too early to take a pregnancy test?

Taking a pregnancy test sooner than eight days past your ovulation (DPO) might result in a false negative. This is because fertilized eggs don’t start producing the pregnancy hormone that tests detect — hCG — until after implantation is complete. 

About 85 percent of the time, implantation occurs 6–10 days after ovulation. After implantation, your hCG levels will start doubling every 48 hours. At this point, pregnancy tests will be able to measure your hCG levels, ensuring a positive result if you’re pregnant. 

When to take a blood pregnancy test

Maybe you’ve taken a home pregnancy test, but now your health care provider is suggesting you take a blood test. What exactly is and when should you take a blood pregnancy test? 

Home pregnancy tests measure the levels of hCG in your urine. A blood pregnancy test measures the hCG levels in your blood. Health care providers suggest taking a blood test because they’re more sensitive and can offer more information than a home urine test. 

The best time to take a blood pregnancy test is if your period is several days late. If your home pregnancy tests are negative, but you’re experiencing all the symptoms of pregnancy, it’s a good idea to take a blood test. 

The most accurate blood tests are quantitative blood pregnancy tests, because they determine the exact amount of hCG in your blood. This is important because it can tell your health care provider if you’re pregnant or if you need to do another test in a few days.

Health care providers also recommend blood tests if you’ve experienced an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage in the past. This ensures your health care provider will be able to observe your hCG levels more closely in the first weeks of your pregnancy. 

You might wonder when to take a pregnancy test to get accurate results. Whether you’re hoping for a positive or a negative, taking a test the week after your missed period is probably the best way to find out. If you’re in a hurry, you can try taking a test at least one to two weeks after sex, but the results may not be as accurate. 

For best results, take the pregnancy test in the morning. First-morning urine exhibits the highest concentration of hCG. Taking your pregnancy test sooner than eight days past ovulation might result in a false negative. Blood tests are more sensitive and can offer more information than a home urine test.

UCSF Health. “Conception: How It Works.” Ucsfhealth.org, UCSF Health, 31 Oct. 2019, www.ucsfhealth.org/education/conception_how_it_works/.

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Pregnancy.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 29 Apr. 2019, www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/InVitroDiagnostics/HomeUseTests/ucm126067.htm.

“Doing a Pregnancy Test.” NHS Choices, NHS, 1 Oct. 2018, www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-test/.

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