For women trying to get pregnant, nothing is more tempting than running to the store and buying a pregnancy test the moment you start experiencing the earliest signs of pregnancy. Even if you haven’t missed your period yet, symptoms like nausea, headaches, and mood swings might spark both hope and temptation to find out if you’re pregnant or not right away. As a Reproductive Endocrinologist, I’m here to tell you to resist that urge and wait a bit before taking a pregnancy test at home. Taking your test too early can give you a false positive or a false negative result, both of which can be disappointing and confusing and contribute to your stress levels as you try to conceive.
When Can You Take a Pregnancy Test?
Technically, you can take a pregnancy test whenever you want, but that doesn’t mean that you should. If you start experiencing the early signs of pregnancy (like nausea and fatigue) it will probably be extremely tempting to take a pregnancy test before you’ve even missed your period. But taking the test too early can give you a false result – which can be devastating, especially for those who are having difficulty conceiving.
What Causes Inaccurate Tests?
At-home pregnancy tests are designed to detect the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your urine, which is produced by the body when you are pregnant. Your body begins producing hCG as soon as an egg is fertilized. In some cases, a chemical pregnancy can occur, where the egg is fertilized but then doesn’t fully implant, and is shed with the lining of the uterus. This can give you a false positive result on a pregnancy test, as the pregnancy is not viable. Taking a pregnancy test too early can also give you a false negative, because even if you are pregnant, your hCG levels may not be high enough to be detected by the test. Many women get trapped in a cycle of testing and testing over and over again, whether their results were positive or negative. The best way to get an accurate test is simple – follow the directions!
When You Should Take a Pregnancy Test
For the most accurate results, wait to take a pregnancy test until after you have missed your period. The longer you wait, the better, and waiting until you’ve missed your period is the best way to avoid disappointment. hCG does not usually become detectable in the body until seven to twelve days after successful implantation of an egg, so taking your test too early can easily lead to confusion and disappointment. Early testing may even leave you with results that are difficult to decipher, which no one wants to deal with.
Which Type of Pregnancy Test is Best?
Although there are some at-home pregnancy tests on the market that are designed for early testing, be wary. They may be perfectly fine, but as I mentioned earlier, testing too early can bring you an inaccurate result, no matter the quality of the test you take. If you test after your missed period (like you should!) most tests currently on the market are highly reliable. You should also consider the ease of use of the test and the price, and don’t forget the way the test displays your results. If you’re worried about the results being unclear or difficult to read, it might be best to go with a test that says “yes” or “pregnant” when the result is positive.
If you want your pregnancy test to be as accurate as possible, wait to take it until after you have missed your period. It might be difficult to wait, but waiting is the best way to avoid confusion and disappointment about your results. Do you want to learn more about pregnancy tests, pregnancy, and fertility in general? Please reach out to me and we can chat. I’d love to talk to you about any fertility issues you may be facing, and provide advice and tips to guide you along your journey.