Am I Pregnant? How Early Can I Take A Pregnancy Test?

We all know that feeling. Either you’ve missed your period or your contraception failed, and now you’re wondering if you might be pregnant. For those of us who have been trying to conceive, we may feel slight flutters of hope, but if it’s something we are trying to avoid, it is likely fear and trepidation will set in. Off you go to the pharmacy, secretively depositing your pregnancy test kits in your purse until you can sneak away to the bathroom to see what the future may hold.

Pregnancy Test
Many questions can run through your mind every time you take an at home pregnancy test, no matter what the result turns up. Instead of worrying, let’s look at some of the most commonly asked questions about urine home pregnancy tests (HPT) and find out if you are really pregnant.

  1. When is the earliest I can take an at home pregnancy test?
  2. How soon after unprotected sex can I do a pregnancy test?
  3. How much can I trust an at home pregnancy test?
  4. Can drinking too much water affect the results of the test?
  5. How common is it to get a false negative on a pregnancy test?
  6. What does it mean if I get a positive and negative on a home pregnancy test?
  7. What is the best, most accurate pregnancy test kit, over the counter?

1. When is the earliest I can take an at home pregnancy test?

We have all seen the commercials that say you can get an accurate result at 4, 5, or even six days before your period is due but this is simply false advertising. These tests are looking for the presence of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) that is produced as the placenta forms and grows, after the fertilized egg has implanted. To make sure you are not wasting money on a test, it is not advised to test until at least one day after your regular period would start, but for optimal results, you should wait at least seven to ten days after the day your monthly cycle normally begins. A test taken any time after seven days should be accurate, as long as it is not expired. If your first test reads negative or is only faintly positive and you still feel you may be pregnant, wait a few days and test again. At home pregnancy tests are sensitive to different levels of HCG and you may not have enough of the hormone present yet to test a strong positive on the brand you are using.

2. How soon after unprotected sex can I do a pregnancy test?

If you have irregular period or are not sure when you ovulated, you can do a urine home pregnancy test 14 days after you last had unprotected sex. However for accuracy of result, it is recommeneded to do the test 21 days after intercourse.

For those of you who want to test earlier than a urine test, you can visit your doctor for a blood pregnancy test which can help you determine if you are positive within 3-4 days after implantation or about 6-8 days after fertilization and ovulation.

3. How much can I trust an at home pregnancy test?

Home pregnancy tests are very accurate – between 95 and 99%. Having sex before taking a home pregnancy test, using drugs or alcohol, and taking antibiotics, including birth control pills or fertility enhacers, should not have an effect on a home pregnancy test. Only drugs containing HCG such as, Profasi, Pregnyl, Humegon or Pergonal or some fertility treatments that contain HCG could cause a false positive on a pregnancy test. Additionally, neither yeast infections nor urinary tract infections are known to cause false positives on at home pregnancy tests. Douches or soap and water vaginal washes do not prevent pregnancy; neither will they cause inaccurate test results for a home pregnancy test.

4. Can drinking too much water affect the results of the test?

Drinking too much water before taking the test can dilute your urine to the point that the test cannot read enough HCG to get a positive result, thus giving you a negative result, when you may indeed be pregnant.

Also, not following the test directions may affect your results. There are two basic types of pregnancy tests: one where you pee on a stick encased in plastic and one where you pee in a cup and use a dropper to place urine in a slot. If you pee directly on the one that requires a dropper, it could cause you to get incorrect results. For best results, you should follow all directions and try to test during your first urination after waking.

5. How common is it to get a false negative on a pregnancy test?

It is extremely rare to get a false negative result on a pregnancy test. False negatives are usually due to testing too early, not following the testing directions correctly, reading the results long after the reaction time (when an evaporation line has appeared), using an expired test or the presence of a chemical pregnancy, when the egg becomes fertilized but never attaches to the uterine lining. Chemical pregnancies sometimes show up because your body makes the same amount of HCG as if the fertilized egg had actually implanted, and yet, if implantation does not occur, you are not actually pregnant. This could lead a woman to think the test result was false, but it was not a true pregnancy. That being said, all of these things could cause a false negative on a pregnancy test, but again, if you think you are pregnant even after a negative reading, wait a few days and test again.

6. What does it mean if I get a positive and negative on a home pregnancy test?

Occasionally, you will test positive on the first test you take and test negative on a successive test, taken a day or so later. Or, you will test positive at home and then test negative at your Obstetrician’s office. The culprit here is usually a chemical pregnancy. You tested positive because your body thought you were pregnant, when in fact the egg was unable to implant (usually because it is not a viable egg), thus leading to a later negative test result.

If you are still in doubt, a urine test done at your Obstetrician or Gynecologist’s office is often slightly more sensitive to those available over the counter and a blood test done by your doctor is even more so. If the blood test comes back negative and you are more than seven days past the date of your normal period, it is highly unlikely that you are not pregnant.

7. What is the best, most accurate pregnancy test kit, over the counter?

If you are going to spend money on a pregnancy test, it may be in your best interest to get the most sensitive and accurate test on the market.

According to CBS news and Parents Magazine, the clear stand out in the standard stick test category is the First Response Early Pregnancy Test which also comes out on top in the newer digital category of pregnancy tests.

First Response Pregnancy Test

Another inexpensive pregnancy test kit that comes out top with rave reviews for their sensitivity and accuracy is the Wondfo Pregnancy Test Strips.

Home Pregnancy Test

Both of these test kits are rated most accurate, clearest, most sensitive, most reliable, and easiest to read. Value for money, they are the gold standard and seem to detect the earliest and lowest levels of HCG when present.

Remember to only do a pregnancy test from the first day of your missed period (or 21 days after you last had unprotected sex.)

In our modern age, it seems we no longer really have to wonder very long if we are pregnant. While our aunts and grandmothers may have needed more obvious symptoms of pregnancy to appear to allay their fears or boost their hopes, it seems that if taken at the right time, in the right conditions, following the proper steps, a quick trip to the drugstore and then the bathroom, is all that is needed to verify whether we will need to think about color schemes for a nursery in the near future.

** Trying to get pregnant? Click here for obGyn-recommended fertility supplements and ovulation prediction tools for trying to conceive couples.

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  1. Krystal says

    I definitely agree with everything in this post- especially the part about following the directions of the test properly! When I first got pregnant with our little girl, I had that “feeling” that I should take a test, and since I had bought some test strips in bulk I started doing them almost every day- they kept coming up negative and I couldn’t quite figure out why (my cycle is really regular and I had DEFINITELY missed my period). Turns out, I just wasn’t waiting long enough! After 9 days of testing, it was a definite positive… I felt so silly for not making sure to follow the directions, I ended up wasting quite a few tests!
    I wish everyone good luck in their journey to become parents- and remind you to follow the test directions properly! Haha

  2. MrsD says

    Yes, I’m currently late now (3 days) and my husband and I are HOPING that the test comes positive. I think we both are impatient because all my test are coming out negative.. just like the poster above me. I too purchased the Wondfo test you get soooo many for a good price and I’m testing crazy… but I just have to wait longer for a positive result. Or go to the OBGYN.. lol * fingers crossed*

  3. Charlotte says

    Something that I wish I’d have thought of before buying my pregnancy test — how easy it would be to keep! I wanted to keep the first positive test as a keepsake, and I had purchased one of the less expensive generic tests. I got 2 lines, but wish I had bought one of the fancy digital tests… but then wondered if the digital “pregnant” would someday go away. In the end, if you’re a memory keeper like myself, buy one of the ‘pretty tests’ to have after you get a positive on your cheap test. Then keep the positive pretty test, without having had to waste it on a negative. =)

    • Kristine says

      Actually, the expensive pretty ones fade over time. I used that for my son and it was blank a year later when I checked. The words will go away. Your best bet is actually the cheap ones that use dye and lines or signs. Those don’t really fade. :)

  4. Deanna Balestra says

    I was one of those women who took many an unnecessary test because I just couldn’t wait! In fact after three negatives when I just knew I was pregnant I went in to see my doctor who confirmed with a blood test that I was in fact pregnant – one day later the home test finally started showing positive, I just couldn’t wait for it!

    With my second child I once again knew right away I was pregnant, this time I waited until after my period would have started only to be greeted with an unusual test result – instead of a plus or minus the whole screen turned pink (faulty test strip) luckily here was more than one in the box for me to use!

  5. Merna says

    So true- there’s nothing as nerve wracking as waiting to find out if you’re pregnant! I would say wait as long after your missed period as you can bear to at least a week and I have used the cheapest test before and it gave an accurate result for my last pregnancy. I have also wasted money buying expensive early testing kits when I should have waited as my period was just late.

  6. lauren says

    My first day of my last period was 2nd November and ended on the 5th November my fertile days are 13,14,15,16 November I had intercourse on the 15 and it says I ovulate on the 16 my periods are regular my next period is the 30th of November I was wondering what chance is there I could be pregnant ? When the earliest I can do a home pregnancy test ? And the earliest for a blood test ? Help please

  7. Nicole says

    I am having every symptom possible and took 5 tests, all negative. I’m driving myself crazy. Scheduled an appt. for tomorrow. ..hopefully i can get results fast…i dont want to have to wait another week.

  8. jona says

    I’m using Depo Injection because I don’t want to get pregnant but my last shot I got it 7hours late after I get it I’m cramping, nausea, headache and tired. Having unprotected sex after 3days I got my shot and now I’m suspecting I’m pregnant. Have all the signs of pregnancy. I try to test 2 days ago I got positive result, but now go to my doctor and the urine test is negative but I really feel I’m pregnant, my doctor said I shall wait 2 weeks and test again but I ask my husband to buy pregnancy test because I get stressed, crazy and depressed thinking the positive results and signs of pregnancy but wonder also why the result in clinic today is negative :(

  9. Ann says

    When I first got pregnant with my oldest (now 21), I was, and still am, very regular. I can’t remember when we tested, but I already knew, as my body had already started changing….breasts were sensitive and morning sickness had begun. Took the test before going to the doctor’s (I used 1st response). And with my other 2, I was about the same way….I’ve always kept (and still do) and still do, a calendar to keep track of my cycles. For me, the symptoms told me, but I know not every woman is the same.

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