Most mothers-to-be today look at early detection as something that is immensely important. This is especially true for women who begin experiencing symptoms of pregnancy before missing their periods. However, how do you know whether you should wait to take a test or if you can take one before your period while still getting accurate results?
Waiting Until After You’ve Missed a Period is Often Best
Most drug stores today offer a wide variety of pregnancy tests that you can buy over-the-counter. Each might use a different method to help detect pregnancy, ranging from urinating into a cup and then dipping the stick in the urine to putting your urine into a special container with the use of an eyedropper and urinating on the test itself.
Amenorrhea, or missing your period, is often the first sign that you might be pregnant. It’s important to remember that even after you miss your period, it might take several days for your test to show you accurate results. Because of this, you might have to take multiple tests before you have a positive determination that you are pregnant.
Some women choose to have blood pregnancy tests done instead. Blood pregnancy tests measure the concentration of human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, in your body which typically reach high enough levels 10 days after ovulation to be detected.
There are highly sensitive pregnancy tests that can detect pregnancy up to six days before ovulation, which is around eight days before your cycle begins. However, this increases the potential for false negatives. Another possibility is that you might be experiencing a chemical pregnancy, meaning that you will test positive although the pregnancy is going to result in a miscarriage. Of course, negative urine tests aren’t always the best indicator, especially because it’s possible to become pregnant later in your cycle.
Once one to two weeks have passed since your period, or three to four weeks have passed since fertilization, you can confirm that there is a fetus developing with a transvaginal sonogram. Six to seven weeks after your last period is the point at which a heartbeat can be detected and you will be able to see the fetus itself.
Are Home Pregnancy Tests Accurate?
In general, home pregnancy tests claim to be between 97 and 99 percent accurate, however this statistic can vary. Each brand’s sensitivity to hCG is different, and if you aren’t using the test properly, results will be less accurate. It is typically best to take multiple tests from the same brand to get the most accurate results.
Detecting Pregnancy Before You Miss a Period
Women who take pregnancy tests too early often don’t have high enough levels of hCG in their body for accurate detection. The most accurate time at which you could take a pregnancy test is if you take one around the time of your period.
Negative results can sometimes occur because you aren’t actually pregnant, or because you might be ovulating later than you think. Many issues that happen during pregnancy can affect levels of hCG in your urine as well. If you ever have a negative pregnancy test, take another test shortly thereafter. If you still believe that you’re pregnant, it’s best to talk to your doctor.
Blood pregnancy tests are always the most accurate way to determine whether or not you’re pregnant. Results from these tests are available after 24 hours and can be taken as early as eight days after fertilization occurs and hCG is present in your body.