If you’re trying for a baby, or you suspect you’re pregnant, you could be wondering how soon you can take a pregnancy test.
Many pregnancy tests sold these days promise early results.
Early pregnancy test results can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Good – because if you get a positive result, it’s exciting to find out sooner rather than later
Bad – because you might test too early for accurate results. This might make you feel down and disappointed.
Read on to find out how early you can take a home pregnancy test and get accurate results.
Home pregnancy tests
Today’s pregnancy tests are very different from the methods women used in days gone by, to try to find out if they were pregnant.
Urine tests weren’t so unusual in the past!
In ancient Egypt, women would urinate on wheat and barley seeds to test for pregnancy.
If the wheat sprouted, the woman was said to be pregnant with a girl. If the barley sprouted, it was a boy. No sprouts at all, then no pregnancy.
Fast forward to the 1970s when home pregnancy tests first became available. Simple. Pee on a stick and it detects the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
The hCG in your urine builds up over time. If you’re pregnant by the time your period is due, the level is high enough to get a positive result on a pregnancy test.
How long does it take for hCG to show up in urine?
Different types and brands of over-the-counter pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy at different times.
This is due to the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced when a fertilized egg implants into the uterus.
It can take 6-12 days from fertilization to implantation, and then another week before the hormone levels are high enough to detect.
This is a general idea of how much hCG hormone is needed to affect test results:
- 5U/L or less = not pregnant
- 5 – 25U/L = possibly in early pregnancy (a week before period is due)
- 25U/L = pregnant.
Early home pregnancy tests claim to be able to detect hCG a week before your next expected period. However, hCG might rise more slowly in one pregnancy than another.
Testing too early can lead to disappointment if you get a negative result but you’re actually pregnant. This is called a false negative.
You can read more about hCG levels in hCG Levels – What Should They Be Each Week?
How do you tell if you’re pregnant without a test?
Every woman is different and experiences pregnancy differently.
Some women can sense they’re pregnant right after conception. Or they might notice symptoms, such as:
- Nausea or morning sickness
- Extreme fatigue or sleepiness
- Tender breasts
- Painful nipples
- Twinges in the lower tummy
- Increased appetite
- Cravings or food aversions.
Check out Pregnancy Symptoms – 16 Early Signs You might Be Pregnant for more information.
The only way to be sure is to do a home pregnancy test or have a blood test through your healthcare provider.
Which pregnancy test detects the earliest?
There are so many brands on the market these days.
You should look for one that tests for low levels of hCG, around 10U/L. There are only a few available that are as sensitive as this.
Bear in mind, timing is important and not everyone’s levels are the same at the same time.
How early can you take a pregnancy test after ovulation?
Ovulation happens when your body releases an egg in preparation for fertilization.
This usually happens mid-cycle. If you have a 28-day cycle, you will ovulate around day 14.
This isn’t always the case. In fact, this study found only 12.4% of participants experience a 28-day cycle. Some women have irregular cycles and ovulate slightly earlier or later.
The latest you can conceive in a cycle is the day after you ovulate. After that day the egg you released dies, so you can no longer get pregnant.
If the egg is fertilized, it takes about a week to travel to the uterus and implant. Then it takes some time for the levels of hCG to rise high enough for a test to pick up.
If you test after ovulation, you’ll need to know when you ovulated. It’s a good idea to count or track your cycle days to get an accurate idea of when you normally ovulate.
It will help you to time the test for when your period is due and avoid a negative result if it’s not accurate.
How early can you take a pregnancy test after implantation bleeding?
If your egg is fertilized by a sperm around ovulation, the embryo implants in the wall of your uterus, and the process of pregnancy begins. Usually, this takes about 8-12 days after ovulation.
Implantation can come with some symptoms such as:
Implantation means your body starts producing hCG. Remember though, it takes times for the levels to be high enough to get a positive result. How long it takes for this to happen can differ for each woman.
Implantation bleeding is often mistaken for the start of the next expected period. So unless you’re hoping to be pregnant, you might not test until your period is missed.
How early can you take a pregnancy test after sex?
Waiting can be really hard, especially when you’ve ditched the birth control and are eager to know if you’re pregnant.
But the feeling of excitement, followed by the feeling of disappointment, is no fun for anyone.
This is why it’s so important to wait as long as you can to do urine home pregnancy tests. That way, if you’re actually pregnant, you can avoid a negative result because you tested too early.
Some over-the-counter tests promise positive results earlier and earlier after conception.
However, they don’t take into account the fact that implantation can occur at different times.
It’s also possible for the sperm to fertilize the egg and then for a miscarriage to occur.
Some early tests are designed to detect lower levels of hCG (the pregnancy hormone).
This ‘human hormone’ starts to show its presence when the egg is fertilized.
On an early result pregnancy test, a small amount of hCG can trigger a positive result, but the woman might go on to have a miscarriage.
This can cause disappointment or emotional hurt, especially as the woman believed she was pregnant because the test detected hCG too early.
Can you get a positive 7 days before period?
Many of the over-the-counter urine home pregnancy tests will give confirmation within the 5-24U/L hCG range.
That means a week before your next expected period you could get a positive result, but it might be a false positive (chemical pregnancy), due to a faulty product, or because it was able to detect very low levels of hCg before a pregnancy could be confirmed.
The promise of early tests result is alluring. If you really want to get pregnant, you want to know as soon as possible whether it’s happened.
However, getting the positive tests result in the 5 – 24U/L hCG range can be risky.
It can build up your hopes of being pregnant and then bring disappointment later.
How late should my period be before I take a pregnancy test?
As mentioned in this article, the best time to take a pregnancy test is on the first day of your missed period (or even later if you can wait that long).
It’s the best way to get a more accurate result.
While you’re waiting, try to distract yourself. You might want to read our article about what to do on the Two Week Wait
This is the period of time between when you ovulate and your (hopefully missed) period, or your positive test.
The article suggests some light ways to distract yourself during this time.
Can I take a pregnancy test at 4 am?
Maybe you’re a shift worker, or perhaps you just can’t sleep because you think you might be pregnant. Or you might already have an appointment with your doctor but you just can’t wait.
Whatever the reason, you can do a pregnancy test at 4 am, assuming you have a home test ready to go.
The pregnancy test results will depend on whether or not you’re pregnant, and on how much hCG is present in your urine at that time.
Is it better to dip or pee on a pregnancy test?
When you take the test, it’s important to do it in the correct way for the best result.
It’s a good idea to follow the instructions of the test to the letter.
You might be told to dip the test stick in your urine sample or in your urine stream for the recommended amount of time.
If you follow the instructions, the test is least likely to give a false positive and most likely to test your level of hCG accurately.
How soon will a pregnancy test read positive?
If you follow the instructions of your pregnancy test correctly, you will need to read the test results window in the time frame given.
This is usually between 3 and 5 minutes.
It’s not a good idea to read the test before or after the time suggested or the result might not be accurate.
The positive or negative shown in that time frame is the most accurate. Any result seen outside the time frame could be a false one.
Is second morning urine OK for pregnancy test?
Pregnancy tests usually recommend using the first-morning urine for accuracy. These days, however, most are sensitive enough to pick up hCG in your second-morning wee, if it’s present.
It is better to do the test early in the morning when your urine isn’t diluted. This will help to avoid a negative result if you’re actually pregnant.
How early can you tell if you are pregnant?
It’s best to take an over-the-counter home pregnancy test first thing in the morning.
Your urine is more concentrated at this time and the amount of hCG will also be the most concentrated.
This makes it more likely for the hCG to trigger the positive test result.
Some women might be offered a dating ultrasound scan if they have irregular periods and aren’t sure about their dates.
Your doctor is more than likely to offer you a blood test.
For the most accurate pregnancy test result – positive or negative – your healthcare provider will probably wait until after your missed period
Blood tests are more sensitive to hCG and are generally more accurate in assessing hCG levels in your system. Compared with urine test, a blood test is less likely to produce a false-negative result.