When Should I Do a Pregnancy Test for Best Accuracy?

Do you think you might be pregnant? Are you experiencing certain symptoms that make you wonder? If this is the case, taking a pregnancy test is probably your first step, and receiving accurate results from the test is crucial. You can take practical action to ensure maximum accuracy. Here are a few tips on when you should do your pregnancy test and – depending on the results – next steps you can take.

When Should I Do a Pregnancy Test?

Pregnancy tests are designed to detect a very specific hormone. This hormone, called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), is found in a woman’s urine or bloodstream directly after a fertilized egg fastens itself to the uterus wall. This hormone begins producing exponentially and is detectable roughly one week after fertilization. Therefore, the best time to do a pregnancy test is about 7-10 days after having sex, or soon after your first missed period. Take the test first thing in the morning when you wake up, as hCG levels will be most concentrated in your urine.

Don’t panic, however. Your window to get an accurate result does not end in 7 days. In fact, a woman’s hCG levels substantially rise in the days after the first week of fertilization, “doubling every 2 to 3 days.” In other words, you have time!

What Types of Pregnancy Tests Can I Choose From?

As mentioned, hCG can be detected in urine or the bloodstream. Urine tests are noninvasive, and easy to administer wherever you feel is comfortable and private. Blood tests are done at a doctor’s office, typically after first confirming a suspected pregnancy with a urine test, and come in two general categories: qualitative hCG tests and quantitative hCG tests. Qualitative blood tests respond if hCG is present in the bloodstream at all. Quantitative tests determine the amount of hCG present. In general, qualitative hCG tests are utilized to further confirm the pregnancy so you can start thinking about next steps.

What are My Results?

At-home urine pregnancy tests show results in about 2-5 minutes. Clinician-administered blood tests require some time for results. Regardless of the test you choose, you can expect to receive a “positive” or “negative.”

If your test returns positive, you are most likely pregnant. Positive results mean there are many options ahead, one of which will be the right choice for you. Likewise, negative results indicate that you are most likely not pregnant. This result may produce mixed or complicated emotions, even if your suspected pregnancy was unplanned. Consider confiding in a trusted friend or your partner to express your feelings and find the support you need.

What are My Next Steps?

After receiving a positive test result, you will most likely wish to receive an ultrasound to confirm the viability of the pregnancy. At-home pregnancy tests are not 100% accurate, regardless of the time you administer them, and they cannot tell you if the pregnancy is ectopic (growing outside the uterus).

After your pregnancy is confirmed, three options are available to you: abortion, adoption, or parenting. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your options and want to cut through the noise to make a confident decision you want, consider finding someone to listen to your story and advocate for you.

Avail NYC

Avail NYC is here to support you. We are an advocacy center for women and men making a decision about an unexpected pregnancy. Avail offers self-administered pregnancy tests, and we can refer you for a free or low-cost ultrasound. More importantly, Avail’s compassionate client advocates are here to empower you with emotional support and practical resources and referrals as you make a decision about how to proceed. We are a confidential, non-biased environment. Contact us today to begin a conversation.

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.