Pregnancy Guide: How Soon to Test for Pregnancy
The joy of knowing you are about to become a mother is comparable to none other. A woman who’s eager to conceive will go to any length to know if she’s already pregnant, with some even considering having a pregnancy test a few days after sex. But how soon should you do a pregnancy test? This article tells you how soon to test for pregnancy.
What Is a Pregnancy Test?
A pregnancy test is the analysis of a woman’s blood or other bodily fluids like urine for the presence of a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is produced by her body when a fertilized egg is attached to the uterus. This test is usually done at the hospital or home. If you wish to test yourself at home, you need to get a home pregnancy test kit from a licensed drug store.
You don’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase a home pregnancy test kit at your local drug store. This kit is affordable and easy to use. It also comes with the manufacturer’s instructions to help you do the test successfully.
Home pregnancy test kits come with a device known as a dipstick, which you hold in your urine stream for about 10 seconds to check the level of HCG in your urine.
Other home pregnancy test kits come with a collection cup to help you collect your urine sample. You just urinate into your collection cup and insert the dipstick into it for about 10 seconds.
Remove the dipstick from the cup or your urine stream and wait for a few minutes to get the results. How the results will appear and the amount of time they’ll take to appear depends on the brand of your home pregnancy test kit.
Most dipsticks come with a display that shows the results in the form of either a plus or minus sign. Others display the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant”, or a single or double line. But this information is indicated in the user’s manual.
You should test for pregnancy in the morning immediately when you wake up because the morning urine usually has the highest level of HCG. If the results show negative, you shouldn’t rule out the possibility of being pregnant. Wait for a few days and do another test. Don’t use the same home pregnancy test kit twice.
If the results are positive, visit your doctor immediately for a more conclusive pregnancy test and advice on how to take care of your pregnancy. Your doctor may perform a physical test or a blood test to confirm the pregnancy.
If none of these tests offer you satisfactory results, your doctor will do an ultrasound scan, which uses sound waves to construct an image of the fetus in your womb.
2 Common Types of Pregnancy Tests
There are two main types of pregnancy tests: a blood test and a urine test. While a urine test can be done at home, a blood test is a bit complicated and therefore it should be done by a professional healthcare provider.
1. Blood Test
As mentioned above, a blood test is offered at the doctor’s office. However, it’s not as common as a urine test. It becomes necessary when a urine test fails to give you satisfactory answers. A blood pregnancy test can detect pregnancy at a much earlier stage than other tests.
However, this pregnancy test takes longer than a home test to provide results. There are two main categories of a blood pregnancy test: qualitative HCG test and quantitative HCG test. A qualitative HCG test analyzes your blood to check the presence of the HCG hormone. It only gives a “yes” or “no” answer.
This test can detect pregnancy by the 10th day after conception. Sometimes it can even detect the presence of HCG in your blood much earlier. Also known as the beta HCG test, a quantitative HCG test checks the amount of HCG present. This test can detect even the lowest amount of HCG in your blood.
Sometimes doctors combine a quantitative HCG test with other pregnancy tests to detect an ectopic pregnancy or after a miscarriage when the level of HCG in your blood drops drastically.
2. Urine Test
As noted above, you can easily do a urine pregnancy test at home. But it’s also offered at the doctor’s office. The benefit of doing a urine pregnancy test at home is that it accords you the kind of privacy and convenience you desire. It also offers results quickly and it’s easy to do. You just need to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.
How Accurate Is a Pregnancy Test?
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The two main types of pregnancy tests discussed above are very accurate. Studies show that a urine pregnancy test is about 99 percent accurate, while a blood test is even more accurate.
However, the accuracy of your home urine pregnancy test largely depends on your ability to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the pregnancy test kit and your ovulation cycle, and when the fertilized egg implants.
It will also depend on how soon you take the test after conception and the sensitivity of your pregnancy test. Overall, your first pregnancy test results should be 99 percent accurate if you do it right. It’s also important to note that a pregnancy test doesn’t require any special preparations.
Also, there are no known risks to doing a urine pregnancy test at home. However, there is a risk to doing a blood test because it involves plucking your skin and drawing a few drops of blood. The spot where your doctor puts the needle to draw blood may experience pain and bruise.
How Soon to Test for Pregnancy
You can do a successful pregnancy test from the day you miss your monthly period. But if you aren’t sure when the next monthly period will occur, you can do the test 21 days after having unprotected sex. However, the more complex pregnancy tests like blood pregnancy tests can give you accurate results even before you miss your monthly period.
Please note that while many experts recommend doing your urine pregnancy test first thing in the morning, nothing is barring you from testing a sample of your urine taken at any time after conception.
Although the proof of pregnancy is mainly in the test results, you can also look for other signs of pregnancy. These signs are useful when you don’t have the time or money to do a pregnancy test.
Apart from waiting to see if your monthly period will appear, you can also check your breasts for signs of tenderness and swelling.
Other signs of pregnancy include nausea (with or without vomiting), increased urination, fatigue, moodiness, bloating, light spotting, cramping, constipation, food aversions, and nasal congestion. These signs should prompt you to have a pregnancy test, especially if you recently had unprotected sex.