The Best Time to Take a Pregnancy Test
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait...
If you are trying for a baby, waiting to take that all-important test every month can be
extremely torturous. Test too early and you may risk a false negative despite the recent improvements in
pregnancy testing kits.
The best time to take a
pregnancy test is officially after you have missed a period in order to achieve the most reliable result. For
many women, the menstrual cycle varies from month to month and the easiest way to work out when to expect your
period is by monitoring your cycle length and pattern over a number of months.
By taking a pregnancy
test after your longest expected cycle, you are more likely to be provided with an accurate result. The waiting
can be agony, especially if you are displaying the symptoms of pregnancy such as tiredness, nausea, headaches
and tender breasts. This has resulted in many women choosing newer, more sensitive pregnancy testing kits to
achieve an earlier response.
Although you will want
to know immediately whether you are expecting or not, one of the best ways to get a trustworthy answer from an
early pregnancy test is to understand the way in which they work, which will in turn enable you to use them more
Pregnancy testing kits
are designed to detect the hormone hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotrphin) in a woman's urine. This hormone is passed
from the developing foetus into the blood of the mother-to-be once the implantation in the womb lining has taken
place. Therefore you will only get a positive result once implantation, not just fertilisation, has
If you take an early
pregnancy test too quickly, you must bear in mind that you may get a false negative, as implantation may not
have yet taken place. In this case wait three or four days and take the test again.
It is worth remembering
that the length of time between fertilisation and implantation varies from woman to woman and between
pregnancies, but on average it is around six to 12 days after ovulation. This means the earliest day you can
test and expect a positive result is seven days after you have ovulated.
Levels of hCG increase
quickly throughout the first trimester - indeed the concentration of the hormone doubles daily. This is why
results are more precise the further along in your pregnancy you are.
In the past, women have
had little choice but to wait to see if they were having a baby. This is because the older tests could only
identify hCG at a higher level several weeks after implantation had happened. However, a newer range of early
pregnancy tests are more sensitive and will detect considerably lower levels of the hormone so can give you a
positive conclusion earlier on.
As there are many
different pregnancy-testing kits available on the market, so are there varied sensitivity levels within the
tests themselves. Each one differs in the amount of hCG that needs to be present before a positive result is
If you are looking to
test earlier, look for a kit with a high sensitivity level. A number you will find on the packaging denotes the
level of sensitivity, ranging from 20ml/U to 150ml/U. The rule is that the lower the number, the greater the
sensitivity and subsequently the chances of getting an exact result more quickly.
Shop bought tests are
between 97 and 99% accurate when used properly. Always read the instructions on the box and follow them
carefully. By testing first thing in the morning, your hCG level would have accumulated overnight if you were
pregnant and would be easier to detect.
Try not to drink too
many fluids prior to testing so as not to dilute your hormone level and always check the result after the
recommended time. Regardless of whether you have taken the test early or not, you should consider taking a
further test three or four days later simply to confirm the result.
By following these
simple steps you will be ensure that you get the most accurate answer when using an early pregnancy
An early pregnancy
test can be taken from
the doctor, although home tests are also available from the chemist.