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When Should You Take a Pregnancy Test?

When Should You Take a Pregnancy Test?

So, your hours are now passing like days because you have entered the “two-week wait”. If you are like many other women who are trying to conceive, you don’t want to wait one second longer than you have to before you see if you get a big fat positive (BFP). The great thing is that unlike many generations of women before, today’s women don’t have to wait for their missed period before they can take a home pregnancy test. However, knowing the exact time to take the test to ensure accurate results may not be as easy as it may seem.

The Scoop on Home Pregnancy Tests

To best determine when to take a home pregnancy test, you first need to understand how they work. Pregnancy tests for at-home use work by monitoring the urine for a hormone referred to as hCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. This hormone is secreted by the embryo after it has implanted itself onto the uterus’ wall, which usually occurs between 6 and 8 days following conception (or 7 to 10 days after ovulation).

How soon after conception a test can detect your pregnancy will depend on the test’s sensitivity to hCG. This hormone is annotated by mIU and measured using thousandths of International Units. The hCG levels found in a woman’s urine begin very low, but increase rather quickly as the embryo begins to grow. In terms of a pregnancy test, the more sensitive a test is to this hormone, the quicker it can accurately predict a pregnancy.

Here is a good idea of how hCG levels begin: A woman who is newly pregnant will have about 25 mIU of hCG once she reaches her 10th day post ovulation, by 12 days it has risen to 50 mIU and by 14 days past ovulation the level is up at 100 mIU.

High-quality pregnancy tests that claim “early” results are calibrated using a system to detect hCG at levels of 20 mIU/ml. Tests such as these will provide accurate results as soon as seven to 10 days post ovulation; this is long before a missed period.

When your time comes to buy pregnancy tests, you will find that they come in two formats: midstream and test strip. The difference between the two simply comes down to personal preference – some women prefer the midstream tests so they don’t have to collect their urine in a cup. Yet, keep in mind such tests are generally more expensive.

What are the Early Signs of Pregnancy?

One thing to consider before taking a home pregnancy test is what physical signs and symptoms have you been displaying since the assumed conception date. The following is a list of early pregnancy sings:

  • Swollen and/or tender breasts
  • Tiredness and Fatigue
  • Food aversions or cravings
  • Some women may experience implantation bleeding, cramping and/or spotting as the embryo is being implanted into the uterus’ wall.
  • If you notice one or more of these symptoms between 7 and 10 days after ovulation, then you may want to go ahead and take a pregnancy test as soon as possible, rather than waiting.

If you are still unsure of when you should take a pregnancy test, or in cases of extreme menstrual cycle irregularity it is good to check with an obstetrician-gynecologist.

Photo Credit: “Test Results” (CC BY 2.0) by Editor B

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2013.


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