Pregnancy Tests: When To Take One, Types & Accuracy

Taking a pregnancy test can be an essential step when you suspect you might be pregnant. Knowing the right time to take the test can make a significant difference in its accuracy.

In general, it’s advised to wait until after your period is late to take a pregnancy test, as this is when they work the best. Implantation of a fertilized egg and the subsequent production of the pregnancy hormone, HCG, must occur before the test can provide an accurate result.

When Should You Take a Pregnancy Test

How Soon Can You Take a Pregnancy Test?

Knowing when to take a pregnancy test is crucial for accurate results. Early detection pregnancy tests can detect the presence of the hormone called HCG. This hormone appears in your urine as early as 7 to 9 days after ovulation. 

However, for the most reliable results, it’s best to wait until ten (10) days after conception. Early testing can yield positive results, but the accuracy may be around 75%.

How Soon Can You Take a Pregnancy Test

If you have inconsistent periods or don’t get them at all, taking a pregnancy test 3 weeks after having sex is the most reliable option. This approach is relevant regardless of your menstrual cycle.

How Pregnancy Tests Work

Pregnancy tests, whether at home or professional, detect the presence of the hormone human chorionic (HCG) in your urine. Your body only produces HCG when you’re pregnant, indicating a positive result.

How Pregnancy Tests Work

HCG is released when a fertilized egg attaches to your uterus lining. The level of this hormone in your body increases as pregnancy progresses, improving the accuracy of tests. While some tests detect HCG as early as eight days after conception, they’re typically more reliable after your missed period. Waiting reduces the chances of false readings.

Keep in mind that no test is 100% accurate. Consult a healthcare professional for confirmation, especially if you’re uncertain or have conflicting results.

Consult a healthcare professional for confirmation

Five Signs You May Be Pregnant

Even before a pregnancy test, there are signs and symptoms that could suggest pregnancy. They can develop as early as a week after conception and vary from woman to woman. Understanding these signs is vital, as early knowledge can impact decisions about prenatal care, lifestyle choices, and the timing of the pregnancy test itself.

Missed period: 

A missed period is often the first sign that you may be pregnant. If your period is late, it could indicate a possible pregnancy. 

Missed period

However, a missed period itself can have other explanations, such as stress, weight change, or hormonal imbalance. 

Breast tenderness: 

Early in pregnancy, your breasts may become more sensitive or tender to touch. This can be a sign that your body is preparing for pregnancy.

Breast tenderness

It’s critical to note that breast tenderness can be associated with PMS and certain menstrual cycle phases. However, if combined with other pregnancy signs and a missed period, it could signal pregnancy, and a pregnancy test might be warranted.

Nausea and vomiting: 

Morning sickness is a common symptom of early pregnancy. You may experience nausea, vomiting, or both.

Nausea and vomiting

For some women, these symptoms can start as early as two weeks after conception, and despite the term, they can occur at any time of the day.


Increased tiredness and fatigue are expected during the first trimester of pregnancy. Your body is working hard to support the developing embryo. The rise in hormones like progesterone following conception can make you feel unusually tired or exhausted, even early in the pregnancy.


Frequent urination: 

Early in pregnancy, hormonal changes can cause you to need to urinate more often. Hormonal changes in a woman’s body after conception can lead to increased blood flow to the kidneys, causing the bladder to fill more frequently. 

Frequent urination can, however, be a sign of other health issues like urinary tract infections or diabetes.

Frequent urination

If you’ve noticed these changes alongside other potential signs of pregnancy and a missed period, a pregnancy test is advisable.

Understanding the Results

When taking a pregnancy test, it is crucial to read and understand the results accurately. If the test shows a positive result, it means that you are pregnant. 

On the other hand, a negative result indicates that you are not pregnant. However, it is essential to be aware that false-positive and false-negative results may occur.

Understanding the Results

False-positive Result

A false-positive result is when the test incorrectly indicates that you’re pregnant. 

This can happen due to various reasons, such as using specific medications or having a recent miscarriage. 

False-negative Result

On the contrary, a false-negative result is when the test fails to detect a pregnancy when you are indeed pregnant. 

False-negative Result

It often occurs when taking the test too early or unable to follow the instructions correctly.

Testing Advice

To ensure an accurate reading, consider testing in the morning, as your HCG levels are at their highest. Catching a “midstream sample” is also vital for the most accurate result. This means peeing a little into the toilet before peeing on the test.

Sensitivity and accuracy vary between pregnancy tests, so choose a test with high sensitivity for early detection.

Testing Advice

Importance of Following Test Directions

It’s crucial to follow the instructions on at-home pregnancy tests carefully for the most accurate results. Testing too early, taking fertility drugs, or using certain medications may affect test accuracy.

Since the test detects the presence of human chorionic (HCG) hormone in your urine, which your body only produces when pregnant, it’s crucial to follow the directions provided. 

Importance of Following Test Directions

Reading and understanding the directions before starting can help prevent errors. Always check the expiration date, as using an expired test can lead to inaccurate or inconclusive results.

Pregnancy tests differ in terms of sensitivity and testing procedures. Some may require you to hold the test stick in your urine stream, while others require dipping it in a collected sample. 

keep it for the specified amount of time

Regardless, make sure you keep it for the specified amount of time, as not doing so can affect the test’s accuracy.

Cases In Which Tests May be Misleading

Sometimes, certain factors can lead to misleading pregnancy test results. It’s essential to be aware of these situations to avoid confusion.

Ectopic Pregnancy

A false positive result could also occur due to an ectopic pregnancy. This is a dangerous situation where the embryo implants outside the uterus. 

Ectopic Pregnancy

It requires immediate medical attention.


In rare cases, a miscarriage can cause a misleading test result. 


If the test detects remaining HCG from a recent miscarriage, it may give a false positive.

Medications and Fertility Drugs

Medications and fertility drugs can interfere with the accuracy of a test. 

Medications and Fertility Drugs

Some medications, like HCG injections, may cause a false positive result, making you believe you’re pregnant when you’re not.

Fertility Treatments

Fertility treatments can also affect the outcome of a pregnancy test. If you’re undergoing fertility treatments, it’s crucial to discuss the potential impact on test results with your healthcare provider. 

Keep these factors in mind when interpreting your test results, and consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns.

Fertility Treatments

Medical Confirmations and Alternatives

If you suspect you’re pregnant, it’s essential to seek medical confirmation. A doctor can perform a blood test or ultrasound to verify your pregnancy. 

Blood Tests

In addition to urine tests, blood tests can also be used to measure HCG levels. Typically performed by healthcare providers, blood tests can detect pregnancy earlier than at-home urine tests.

Blood Tests

Blood tests measure the levels of HCG, a hormone produced during pregnancy. You have two main types of blood tests: one that provides a simple yes or no answer and another that measures HCG levels more accurately.

levels of HCG

After your initial blood test, you may be referred to a midwife or specialized prenatal care provider for further guidance.


While a home pregnancy test can also provide an early indication of pregnancy, it’s less reliable than medical tests. An ultrasound can offer a visual confirmation and provide more information about your pregnancy’s progression. Note that ultrasound can confirm pregnancy at around six weeks gestation as a confirmation of the baby’s development.


Rely on your doctor’s expertise and accurate medical tests for the best insight into your pregnancy status. Following their advice will ensure you receive the proper prenatal care for a healthy pregnancy journey.

Dealing with Pregnancy Test Anxiety

Experiencing anxiety around pregnancy tests is common. To alleviate this, it’s crucial to know the right timing for taking a test. Waiting for the appropriate time can minimize the chance of false results and increase accuracy.

Dealing with Pregnancy Test Anxiety

Plan on taking the test when you feel most emotionally prepared. It may help to practice deep breathing or mindfulness techniques before testing.

It’s essential to have a support system during this time. Talk to your partner, friends, or family members about your concerns. They can help provide reassurance and understanding as you go through this process.

pregnancy tests

Remember that false results can occur, especially if taken too early. If you suspect an incorrect result, consider waiting a few days and testing again.

Choosing the best timing for testing and being aware of your options will help you better handle the anxiety surrounding pregnancy tests.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days after a missed period should I test?

After a missed period, it’s a good idea to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible. 

How many days after a missed period should I test

Tests can often show if you are pregnant from the first day of your missed period.

When is the optimal time to take a pregnancy test?

It’s recommended to take a pregnancy test in the morning.

When is the optimal time to take a pregnancy test

The hormone levels are higher in the first urine of the day, which may provide more accurate results.

How soon can a pregnancy test show accurate results?

Most pregnancy test kits detect pregnancy as early as ten (10) days after conception. 

How soon can a pregnancy test show accurate results

Waiting until your period is late before using the pregnancy test kit provides the most accurate result.

What precautions should be taken before using a pregnancy test?

Before using a pregnancy test, read the instruction leaflet carefully to ensure proper usage. 

What precautions should be taken before using a pregnancy test

Avoid drinking too much liquid before the test, as it may affect the results.

Which is more reliable? Home Test Kits or Clinical Testing?

Blood tests are more sensitive to hormonal levels and can detect pregnancy earlier than home test kits. 

Which is more reliable - Home Test Kits or Clinical Testing

However, home tests can be 99% accurate when used correctly.

What are the early signs of pregnancy to look for before testing?

Early signs of pregnancy include a missed period, fatigue, breast tenderness, increased urination, and food cravings or aversions. 

What are the early signs of pregnancy to look for before testing

Keep in mind that symptoms may vary from person to person.