The Best Time to Take a Pregnancy Test

Happy Baby 

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 effectively.

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 occurred.

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 achieved.

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 test.

An early pregnancy test can be taken from the doctor, although home tests are also available from the chemist.




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