When to Take a Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy Tests Quickly Clarify Whether the Pitter Patter of Little Feet Are in Your Future

Finding out you’re pregnant may cause great excitement, bring on a fit of anxiety or maybe both. Whether you’re looking forward to midnight chats with a new baby or dreading the dozens of diapers you’ll change each week, you probably want to know whether you’re pregnant as soon as possible. Fortunately, in most cases you can find out in the comfort of your own home.

How Pregnancy Tests Work

Positive result of pregnancy test

How Long After Conception Can You Test for Pregnancy?

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You might already know that a home pregnancy test means testing your urine with a stick, but what actually causes that extra line to appear might be a bit of a mystery. Once the embryo attaches to the uterine lining, the placenta starts rapidly producing human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG in the first few days of pregnancy. Pregnancy tests are designed to check for hCG in your blood or urine. That’s a couple big words for one little hormone that triggers the big fat positive on a pregnancy test.

Knowing When to Test

Most doctors recommend waiting to test until after the first day of your missed period for the most accurate result, but any mom who has been pregnant or is trying to get pregnant knows that waiting is hard to do. While a missed period is usually the first sign of pregnancy, there are a few early symptoms that might pop up first. If your favorite meal of scrambled eggs and bacon makes your stomach turn, it might be time to test. Nausea doesn't normally show up until between two to eight weeks after a baby is conceived, but some women have reported it as their first pregnancy symptom. Swollen or tender breasts are another early sign of pregnancy and even though most working women or moms of little ones feel like they’re in a constant state of tiredness, feeling extra tired is another early sign that might make you head to your local drugstore for a pregnancy test.

Home Pregnancy Tests

Positive result of pregnancy test

How to Read a Pregnancy Test

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Buying a home pregnancy test can seem a bit like buying a new crockpot. So many brands available with so many different bells and whistles, but in the end, they all get the job done. The price of a pregnancy test ranges from around $8 to $20. Depending on the brand, a plus sign, two lines or even the word “pregnant” mean you better start stocking up on burp rags and binkies. If you just can’t manage to wait until after you miss a period, buy an early detection pregnancy test. These tests pick up smaller amounts of hCG, which means you can test before your missed period, even up to six days before. Just remember, the further you are from conception, the more accurate your result.

Tests at the Doctor’s Office

A home pregnancy test is fairly simple and accurate, but if you’re more comfortable leaving it to the professionals, you can head to your doctor. Most doctors check for pregnancy with a urine test, but can also run a blood test. You can detect pregnancy through a blood test a bit earlier than a urine test, but it is more expensive depending on your insurance and it takes longer to get results.


As long as you follow the directions, most home pregnancy tests are around 99 percent accurate. The longer you can wait to test, the more accurate your result. As tempting as it is to use the convenient pregnancy test that has sat in your cupboard for a few years, an expired or old test may not be accurate. Other tips to keep in mind for more accurate results are to test first thing in the morning when your urine is most concentrated and avoid chugging a ton of fluids right before the test, which dilutes your urine.

Following Up

If you get a positive result, it’s most likely accurate, but a few factors could give you a false positive, so it’s important to always follow up with your doctor after a positive test. If you get a negative result, check again in a few days. If you continue to get a negative result but are still experiencing pregnancy symptoms, contact your doctor.