How Soon Can You Take A Pregnancy Test? – Netmums

by pregnancy journalist

When you’re trying for a baby, you’ll be dying to take a pregnancy test hoping to see a positive result show up. But how early on can you take one? And how do they actually work? Here’s everything you need to know about that little white stick you pee on.

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How soon can I use a pregnancy test?

As tempting as it can be to take a pregnancy test in the very early stages of TTC, there’s little point in doing it too soon.

The disappointment of a negative test can be hard to bear, especially if you’ve been trying for a baby for a while.

So, to give you the best chance of getting a BFP (big fat positive) on the stick, it’s recommended that you don’t use a pregnancy test too early in your cycle.

Pregnancy tests work by detecting the pregnancy hormone, hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) in your urine; test too soon and the levels won’t be high enough to detect it. So, even if you are in the early stages of pregnancy, your pregnancy test will be negative.

It takes about six days after conception for your body to produce the pregnancy hormone, and then another few days after that for the level to be high enough to be recognised by a pregnancy test.

So when should I take a test?

To get an accurate result you have two main choices:

How do pregnancy tests work?

Pregnancy tests work by detecting the pregnancy hormone hCG in your urine. Based on that you’ll get either a positive result telling you that ‘you’re pregnant’ or a negative test result, in other words telling you, ‘you’re not pregnant’.

Different tests show different results – some have words while others use lines to indicate whether you are pregnant or not. Some can even tell you how many weeks pregnant you are already, although these tend to be more expensive brands, such as Clearblue.

Despite these differences, most of them simply require you to follow these three steps to get a result:

1. take the cap off the pregnancy test (if there is one)

2. sit on the toilet ready to do your wee

3. hold the stick down so that it’s in the stream of your urine; yep, you literally wee on the stick!

There’s no need for this to be your first wee of the day, either. You can do a pregnancy test on a sample of urine collected at any time of the day, although your morning wee is likely to have the highest concentration of hCG.

Can I still be pregnant after a negative pregnancy test?

While a positive test result is rarely wrong, a negative result is less reliable.

Often referred to as a ‘false negative’, the most common reason for getting a negative test result when you are in fact pregnant, is testing too soon.

Luckily, it’s easy to find out if it is a false negative – just wait a few days and try another test.

Of course, it could also be negative because you aren’t pregnant yet, so try not to be too disheartened if that’s the case.

How do early pregnancy tests work?

Some very sensitive pregnancy tests can be used up to five or six days even before you miss a period, and from as early as eight days after conception. They are designed to be able to detect even tiny traces of hCG in your urine that regular pregnancy tests might not pick up.

Here are the three top-selling early pregnancy tests on the market at the moment:

1. Clearblue Early Detection – gets results six days before your period is due.

2. First Response tests (Boots) – gets results as early as six days sooner than the day of your missed period.

3. Superdrug Early Pregnancy Test – can be used up to four days before your period is due.

Remember that there is a slightly lower chance of it detecting whether you’re pregnant, the earlier you do a test. If you do get a negative result with an early pregnancy test, you could still be pregnant.

You may even notice an implantation bleed or experience some common early signs of pregnancy in the very early weeks of pregnancy, too.

This table shows the effectiveness of early pregnancy testing – pregnancy tests are 99% accurate when used closer to your period due date. This falls to 79% when used too close to your conception date.

Where can I get a free pregnancy test?

The cost of buying pregnancy tests can soon add up, especially if it takes you longer than expected to conceive.

The NHS quotes research that shows that among couples having regular unprotected sex, 92% will conceive after one year and 98% after two years in those aged 19-26; while 82% of couples will conceive after one year and 90% after two years in those aged 35-39.  

If you need help buying tests, it is possible to get free pregnancy tests from:

Alternatively, although pregnancy tests can cost as much as £12.99 per test, these pregnancy tests are all less than a fiver each.

Homemade pregnancy tests: do they work?

No. The only way to get an accurate and reliable result is by using a reputable brand of pregnancy test.

Watch NHS midwife Caron talk about doing a pregnancy test in the video below …

It’s positive! What do I do now?

Other than having a sit down and a cup of herbal tea to calm your excitement – you’re off the booze for nine months now, remember – just enjoy letting the news sink in.

You can decide how to spring the news on your other half, if he’s not already seen the test and you can even try to work out your due date with our calculator below…

Due date calculator

Select the first day of your last menstrual period and the average length of your menstrual cycle

Your due date

Then you should book a GP appointment. He will help work out your approximate due date and go through your hospital and birthing centre options. Once you’ve decided, he’ll refer you so that your midwife can get you booked in for antenatal appointments and scans, which will help give you the most accurate due date and get you ready for the trimesters ahead.


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