How Soon Can I Take A Pregnancy Test?
Determining when you can take a pregnancy test will depend upon what type of test you take and whether or not it is sensitive enough to read the levels in your body. With so many different tests out there on the market today, you will find that each one has a different sensitivity level.
What Does It Test For?
A pregnancy test checks for your hCG levels, or human chorionic gonadotropin, in your urine. This hormone is also known as the pregnancy hormone because your body will only produce this special hormone once you are pregnant; that is – once the fertilized egg implants in your uterus. This hormone will continue to increase throughout your entire pregnancy by doubling itself every two to three days. If the egg has not been fertilized, or if it has been fertilized but has not yet implanted into your uterus, there will be no hCG present in your system so a home pregnancy test taken too soon will be negative.
Just as every woman is different, so is each pregnancy. It could take as much as ten days after ovulation for the egg to fertilize and implant itself in your uterus, or it could take as a little as seven or eight days. If your home pregnancy test is sensitive enough, it may be able to detect pregnancy within two to three days after implantation, although in most cases it takes as much as a week for enough hCG to be present.
Some pregnancy tests are very sensitive and can read a very scant amount of hCG early on, while others are not that sensitive and usually will not read as being positive for a few days after your missed period.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, although most home pregnancy tests claim to be 99 percent accurate starting from the first day of your missed period, recent research indicates that the majority of these tests are not always able to detect a pregnancy that early. Moreover, even if they did, those results may be so faint that it is easy to read the results incorrectly. It is therefore best to wait at least one week after your missed period, in order to get a more accurate reading.
However not every home pregnancy tests is the same. When buying a home pregnancy test, keep in mind that the more sensitive it is, the smaller amount of hCG it will detect. This means that you can use this type of ultra-sensitive test earlier than others. For example, a home pregnancy test that has a sensitivity level of 20 mIU/ml hCG, means that it can test accurately as early as six to eight days after conception. Just remember that the day you had sex is not the same as the day you conceived, as conception can occur a few days after having sex. Women who are pregnant will typically have hCG amounts between 10 and 50 mIU in the week after conception.
In spite of this, there have been reports of faint positives on some of the more sensitive tests at 5 to 6 days passed ovulation. In addition, some women may have very low hCG output, so even on the day of your missed period you still might see a negative. Keep testing if your period does not start soon.
If you are still unsure of your home pregnancy test or suspect that it is wrong, you can go to your doctor where he or she can determine whether you are pregnant. Your doctor will conduct one of two blood tests: either a quantitative blood test or a qualitative hCG blood test.
The quantitative blood test, also referred to as the beta hCG test, calculates the exact amount of hCG in the blood, no matter how tiny those amounts are.
The qualitative hCG blood test only works by noticing whether or not the pregnancy hormone is present in your blood. This is similar to a home urine test in that it only provides a straight yes or no answer.
Another way to determine whether you are pregnant is to monitor your basal body temperature. If your temperature stays high for over ten days, your chances of being pregnancy are great and you should take either a home pregnancy test or go to your doctor to get a pregnancy blood test.