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How Soon Can You Take a Pregnancy Test? 4 Stories from Women with the Same Dilemma

Want to get pregnant?

One of the biggest dilemmas women have in regard to pregnancy is knowing how soon can you take pregnancy test. Many of them choose to take a home pregnancy test a few days after their period is due to come. Some wait several weeks until they finally take the test. Others choose blood tests instead, since they’re more reliable and don’t have an error margin.

If you experience symptoms that indicate a potential pregnancy, then it’s time to take a test. The question is, how soon can you take a pregnancy test to ensure that the result will be accurate? Your situation may be different from others – perhaps you’ve just experienced implantation bleeding. Or, your period is nearly two weeks late already, but you don’t have any pregnancy symptoms.

Want to get pregnant?

One of the biggest dilemmas women have in regard to pregnancy is knowing how soon can you take pregnancy test. Many of them choose to take a home pregnancy test a few days after their period is due to come. Some wait several weeks until they finally take the test. Others choose blood tests instead, since they’re more reliable and don’t have an error margin.

If you experience symptoms that indicate a potential pregnancy, then it’s time to take a test. The question is, how soon can you take a pregnancy test to ensure that the result will be accurate? Your situation may be different from others – perhaps you’ve just experienced implantation bleeding. Or, your period is nearly two weeks late already, but you don’t have any pregnancy symptoms.

Here are 4 stories from our readers – see what the expert has to say about them!

1. I’m not pregnant, nor do I lead a sexually-active life. However, there’s something I don’t understand about pregnancy tests, and I’d like someone qualified and knowledgeable to clarify it for me. How soon can a pregnancy test detect pregnancy? Some of my friends have said their pregnancy tests turned out to be positive the day after their period was supposed to arrive. Others have said they waited about 2-3 days after implantation bleeding to take a home pregnancy test, but it turned out negative although they were actually pregnant. Is there something they did wrong? Did they take the tests too soon? How it comes that some got positive results after such a short time?
I’ve been asking around about this, but no one could give me a good answer. Your input will be greatly appreciated!

Expert Answers:

Thank you for contacting us!

I’m sure this may seem a dilemma, but the answer is a lot simpler than you can imagine in actuality. There are two factors that influence the results of a pregnancy test: the levels of HCG in the body at the moment when you take the test, and the sensitivity of the test. Once the implantation process concludes, the body starts producing increasing amounts of HCG. The levels double every 48-60 hours. During the first 4-5 days after implantation, the levels of HCG reach 250mIU/ml in the blood. After another 1-2 days, the levels of HCG in the urine reach the same value. If there is not enough HCG in the body, the pregnancy test won’t detect – and hence it will turn our negative. Implantation starts on the sixth day after fertilization, and usually lasts another 6 days. If you take a pregnancy test too soon (e.g. during implantation, or sooner than 4-5 days after implantation), the results will be negative.

The second factor is the sensitivity of the test. Some tests have a sensitivity of 20mIU/ml – this means they can detect lower levels of HCG in the body, so even if you take it sooner (1-2 days after implantation), the test may still turn out positive. Other tests have a sensitivity of 40mIU/ml, which means you have to wait long enough for the HCG levels in the urine to reach at least 40mIU/ml. If you take the test too soon, the result may be a false negative. It’s recommended to wait at least 7-9 days after implantation to take a pregnancy test with a sensitivity of 40mIU/ml.

That’s why some of your friends got positive results, while others got false negatives. Perhaps the levels of HCG were insufficient for the test to detect the hormone, or maybe the test they used was not sensitive enough.

2. Is it possible to be pregnant although I still have my period? I have had sex with my fiancé a few weeks ago, and I’ve been experiencing plenty of pregnancy symptoms, from constipation to food aversions (I used to love cinnamon rolls, they were my favorite breakfast choice, but now even the smell makes me sick to the stomach). The most notable one is an increase in my normal discharge. I’m the type of woman with plenty of discharge, and I never really minded it. But now it’s literally uncontrollable. It comes out in small gushes, and sometimes wets my underwear entirely. It’s clear, runny, and doesn’t smell. It’s so annoying that I have to use the bathroom every half an hour to keep myself clean, otherwise things get really smelly down there.
I’m nauseated in the mornings, and I have a bowel movement about once per week (and I used to have one every two days or so). How soon can you take pregnancy test to make sure it will be accurate? How soon will pregnancy test show if I’m pregnant or not?

Expert Answers:

This is by far one of the most common questions women ask me, after “how soon do pregnancy tests work.” Yes, it’s entirely possible to have still your period even if you’re pregnant, especially during the first month. Normally, your uterus grows a thick blood-rich lining in preparation for the embedment of the egg every month, but since no egg actually attaches to the uterus, the tissue is shed along with blood, resulting in your period. Once the fertilized ovum (egg) attaches to the endometrium (inner wall of the uterus), the tissue is no longer shed, and hence your period stops. However, if the hormones that control your period are still high in your body, you may experience a lighter bleeding that resembles your period.

Most of the symptoms you describe sound very much like pregnancy. In general, you should wait around 10 days after your period is due to take a pregnancy test, otherwise the result may not be relevant (false negative). If there is not enough HCG in your urine when you take the test, then the result will be a false negative. The levels of HCG double every 48-60 hours after the implantation process concludes. However, you may choose a test with a greater sensitivity (20mIU/ml) since they can detect pregnancy faster, or opt for blood tests instead, since they’re usually more accurate and can be taken sooner than a home, urine-based test.

If the increased vaginal discharge bothers you, I’ve got some bad news for you: controlling it is not possible. Don’t attempt to wash your vulva too often just to get rid of the mucus – this can actually lead to an infection since you’ll be removing the good bacteria that protect your vagina from infections. Also, most hygiene products are harsh on the skin and may change its pH, resulting in bacterial vaginosis, cottage cheese-like discharge with bad fishy smell, and possibly a burning sensation when you urinate. Change your underwear as frequently as needed to avoid odors, and avoid both tampons and sanitary pads since they’ll mess with your vagina’s pH. Buy only sanitary pads as they have a neutral pH and won’t interfere with the bacterial flora of the vagina. Also, choose loose panties instead of tight, form-fitting ones, use only plain tap water to wash down there, and avoid any perfumes or deodorants.

3. I’m dealing with something I can’t talk about to my family or friends. For the past few days, I’ve been experiencing a sudden increase in my normal vaginal mucus. I usually ovulate around mid-month (the 15th or 16th day of the month). I had sex with my boyfriend on the 9th day of the month, and I think I may be pregnant. I have no confirmation since I haven’t taken a test yet. I’ve read that you should wait around 10 days after fertilization to take a test. Now it’s the 9th day, and tomorrow I’ll be ovulating. I’m afraid this may interfere with the accuracy of the test, especially since there’s a lot of discharge. How soon after ovulation can you take a pregnancy test?

Expert Answers:

Your question is very intelligent, but I have to assure you – ovulation won’t interfere in any way with the test. That’s because, at this point, the levels of HCG in your body should be high enough for the pregnancy test to detect them even if you’re ovulating. During ovulation, the levels of estrogen will naturally increase, like they do when you’re pregnant. Does this impact the result of the test? Definitely not.

The increase in vaginal mucus is normal, and it happens to every pregnant woman. Even though your pregnancy is only at the beginning, the levels of estrogen increase dramatically, resulting in more discharge. The amount will keep increasing as your pregnancy progresses, and you may find your vulva very tacky and slippery, especially when you wipe. You may even need to change your underwear several times a day to avoid wetting your clothes and bad smells, but don’t feel bad – it happens to every woman, and this is a sign that your baby is growing healthily.

Assuming you’re not pregnant, an increase in discharge is normal around the time you’re supposed to ovulate due to estrogen levels increasing. However, the amount will get back to normal in about 2-3 days, so there’s no need to be concerned. Make sure to avoid using soaps or other hygiene products to wash down there, as this will result in bacterial vaginosis.

4. I’m planning to get pregnant for the first time, but I’m a really embarrassed to ask my ob/gyn for advice. So far I haven’t been experiencing any symptoms, but once I do, how soon should I take a pregnancy test? I’ve heard that you shouldn’t wait for too long, but you shouldn’t take the test too soon either, and I’m not sure which route I should go. Could you please let me know how soon do pregnancy tests work? Also, do you think I should take a second or third test to confirm the pregnancy?

Expert Answers:

Congratulations for your initiative to get pregnant! It’s a tough path, but I’m sure you’ll succeed!

As for how soon can you take a pregnancy test, the recommended time frame is 10 days after your missed period. So if your period is due to come on the 3rd day of the month, you should take the test on the 13th day (for example). This is because the levels of HCG in your urine take longer to increase as compared to your blood, and if there’s not enough of this hormone at the time you take the test, the result will be a false negative even if you’re pregnant. However, it’s irrelevant if you take the test after 20 or even one month after your missed period. The levels of HCG double every 2 days or so, which means there will be plenty of it for the test to detect it.

It’s a good idea to take a second or a third test, just to make sure that the first one wasn’t false. It happens, especially if certain factors interfere with the testing. Whether or not the second and third tests are positive, consider a blood test as well – they are more efficient at identifying the HCG in your blood, and there is no risk of getting false results.

Once your pregnancy is confirmed by the blood test, it’s time to start preparing yourself, both physically and emotionally, for the journey you’ve embarked on. You will go through plenty of hormonal changes that will affect your day-to-day life, and your usual routine may be disrupted as well, but don’t feel bad. You’ll need just a few months after giving birth to get back to your normal routine and activities.

You may also want to talk to your ob/gyn about the symptoms you’re going to experience, especially the increase in vaginal discharge (which will be so frustrating that you’ll eventually let it be), constipation (don’t take laxatives, as they may ultimately do more harm than good), and your susceptibility to infections, including bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection (thrush).

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