The Best Time to Take a Home Pregnancy Test
Taking a home pregnancy test is usually the first step when you are wondering if you might be expecting. Whether you have been meticulously marking days on the calendar, or have suddenly realized your period should have started and hasn’t, a home pregnancy test will help you determine what to do next!
But is there an ideal time to test for pregnancy? What if you test early and get a negative...will it be accurate? If you are asking these questions, you’re in good company. Even seasoned moms have been known to look up the best time to test for pregnancy. Every pregnancy and body is different, but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.
When is the ideal time to take a pregnancy test?
Ideally, you will wait to take a pregnancy test until after you have missed your period by a few days, or even a week. This might not be a problem if you have been busy or not paying close attention to your cycle.
However, if you are trying to conceive, waiting so long can be tough! Especially if you are paying close attention to your body and looking for signs of pregnancy along the way. Still, if you can wait to test only after you have missed your period, you are much more likely to get an accurate result.
Are “early detection tests” really better at detecting pregnancy?
A home pregnancy test works by detecting the pregnancy hormone, hCG, in the urine. HCG multiplies rapidly in early pregnancy, doubling about every 48 hours in a typical, healthy pregnancy.
Early detection tests are simply more sensitive, making them able to detect lower concentrations of hCG in the urine. This means that some women will be able to see a positive result as early as five days prior to their missed period with an early detection test, such as these tests from Mom Med.
However, because hCG levels can span a wide range of normal numbers in early pregnancy, you may still not get a positive test result until after your missed period. The only way to test for the exact levels of hCG is by having your care provider order a blood test.
What if I have pregnancy symptoms before my missed period...should I test early?
Some women do start to notice early symptoms of pregnancy before their missed period. If you are noticing physical symptoms and think you might be pregnant, it won’t hurt to take an early detection pregnancy test even if you aren’t expecting your period for a couple more days.
Unfortunately, pre-menstrual symptoms and early pregnancy symptoms are often similar. Especially if you are trying to conceive, it is easy to wonder if your regular pre-menstrual symptoms such as tender breasts, nausea, or changes to your appetite are pregnancy symptoms.
If you wish to test before your expected period by a few days, it might be a good idea to have a few extra tests on hand. That way you will be able to test again after a couple of days if symptoms persist.
Does testing in the morning really make a difference?
Yes and no. It is not actually the time of day itself that influences the sensitivity of a pregnancy test. Often, the difference is just that urine is more concentrated in the morning, making hCG level slightly higher as well.
If you are someone who gets up to empty your bladder and drink fluids often in the night, this won’t make as big of a difference in accuracy. Either way, testing in the morning will only make a difference in the very early days of pregnancy. Because hCG multiplies so rapidly, you should be able to take an accurate test at any time of day once you have missed a period.
Does it matter if I use a test strip or a midstream test?
There are two popular types of home pregnancy test available. One is a test strip that has to be dipped into collected urine, and the other is a midstream test that can be held directly under the stream of urine without having to collect it first.
Some women may wonder if one of these types of tests is better for early pregnancy detection, or more accurate in general. Because the test strip performs the same function either way, it does not make a difference which type of test you choose.
As mentioned above, the sensitivity of the test is what matters for earliest possible pregnancy detection, not the form that the test itself takes. Both these pregnancy test strips and these midstream pregnancy tests provide the earliest possible detection of the hCG hormone.
Now you have learned that although some pregnancies will be able to be detected up to five days before the missed period, it is best practice to wait until the day after your missed period. Some pregnancies may even take up to a week after a missed period to be detected!
All bodies, pregnancies, and symptoms will be different. If you have the patience to wait until you have missed your period, you will have a much higher chance of detecting a pregnancy the first time. If you can’t make yourself wait that long, be sure to use early detection tests and have extra tests on hand to try again a couple days later.