At a Glance
- Home pregnancy tests offer an accuracy rate of 97 – 99%. This means they are very reliable. However, if taken at the wrong time, they may give false results.
- The first reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Some other symptoms include bleeding, spotting, nausea, breast swelling, tenderness or cramps.
- Women are advised to take a pregnancy test a week after a missed period to ensure accuracy. This allows your body to have enough hCG to be detected – if you do happen to be pregnant.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
One of the first things to happen when you become pregnant is that your body starts to produce hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin). Pregnancy tests work by detecting if there is hCG present in your system [Source: American Pregnancy Assocuation]. This can either be done by a urine or a blood test. As your pregnancy progresses, so does your hCG levels. In fact, they double every 36 to 48 hours and reaches its peak at 8 to 10 weeks.
Additionally, pregnancy tests measure your hCG levels. Home pregnancy tests need 50 units of hGC to display a positive result. It may differ for every woman. You might have enough even before your missed period or it may take a while for your body to produce as much. This is why waiting for the right time to take a test is very important.
When Is The Best Time To Take A Pregnancy Test?
If you have a regular menstrual cycle, it is possible to test positive prior to your next monthly cycle. In this scenario, whether you ovulate early or late in the cycle, there is a high probability of testing positive. Doctors would always suggest that waiting for a week after a missed period gives a more precise result.
Pregnancy test kits test your urine for the presence of a specific hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Formation of this hormone happens exclusively during pregnancy when a fertilized egg attaches successfully to the lining of the uterus. After 6 to 9 days of conception, hCG can already be present in the blood and urine. The peak is between 8 to 11 weeks of gestation.
When Is It Possible To Perform A Home (Urine) Pregnancy Test?
Here’s the simple answer. To get the best results, you should take it at least 1 week after your missed period [Source: WebMD]. Why? Assuming you take home pregnancy/urine test, the results will be determined by whether or not your body has enough Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), also called pregnancy hormone. With a urine test, pregnancy can be detected approximately 10 days after conception. Taking a urine test earlier may give you the wrong results as well as unnecessary stress or disappointment.
However, if you don’t want to wait, there are Early Detection Pregnancy Test Kits available that are sensitive enough to detect low levels of hCG. They can detect hCG for as low as 20 units. These tests claim reliable results from as early as 6 days before your missed period.
What is a Pregnancy Blood Test?
Another alternative is testing by blood. With this method, doctors use a blood sample instead of a urine one. There are two types of pregnancy blood tests:
- The first type of blood test is called the Quantitative Blood Test which measures the exact amount of hCG in the blood.
- The other type, the Qualitative hCG Blood Test, gives a more direct yes-or-no result.
Blood tests can detect pregnancy earlier (7-12 days from possible conception) than over-the-counter or home urine tests. The only downsides are that they may take you more time as well as cost you more money due to doctors and laboratory fees.
How Accurate Are Pregnancy Tests?
Most home pregnancy tests claim to have up to 99 percent accuracy, with results the most reliable if taken one week after a missed period. However, false positive test results can be received even though you are not pregnant. Keep in mind that they happen in rare cases. These rare cases include medical conditions like biochemical pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, or menopause.
False-negative results, in which the test shows a negative result when you are actually pregnant happens more often than false-positives. This may happen if you take the test too early, do the test in the wrong way or if you use diluted urine.
Blood tests meanwhile have 98-99 percent accuracy rate. As with home pregnancy tests, you can also get false-positive or false-negative results with basically the same possible circumstances.
Can Pretests Or Early Pregnancy Tests Give Precise Results?
Normal home pregnancy tests are 97-99% accurate, making it a reliable method to determine a positive pregnancy. If you want the most accurate result, you should perform the test sometime between your fourth and fifth weeks of pregnancy.
However, if you want to test earlier than advised, there are early detection pregnancy test kits available for you. These pregnancy tests are sensitive enough to detect the lowest levels of hCG in your body. This means that they can detect your pregnancy earlier than normal home pregnancy kits. However, this kind of test is not as reliable, so take them with a grain of salt.
With all of the basic information covered, you can now decide the best time to take your pregnancy test and which method works best for you. The key is in getting the timing right. Early and correct testing is very important and you should call your doctor as soon as possible once you find out that you’re pregnant.