Perfect Timing! When should you take a pregnancy test?

Perfect Timing! When should you take a pregnancy test?

From Sohail Ahmad

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When trying to have a baby, taking a pregnancy test can be both exciting and nerve-racking! It is essential to time the test well because taking it too early can give a false-negative result. Here are a few tips for choosing the best time to take a pregnancy test to save yourself the disappointment. 

What’s the theory behind the timeline

When you ovulate, your ovaries release a mature egg which stays viable for 12-24 hours. If this egg is fertilized, it travels to the uterus for implantation over 6-12 days. During this time, the lining of the uterus builds to support the embryo, and you will usually miss your next period, as a strong indicator that you may be pregnant. 

The time between ovulation and your first missed period is 12-14 days. It may help to keep an eye out for signs of pregnancy, but since the early signs are very similar to premenstrual symptoms you may otherwise feel just before your period, the changes may not be too noticeable. 

However,10 DPO (10 days post ovulation) is a great time to pay attention to your body because the signs of pregnancy become more evident at this checkpoint. 

How do pregnancy tests work

Pregnancy tests work by testing the amount of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Your body begins to release hCG only after the fertilized egg implants itself into the uterine lining. 

As the placenta forms, it maintains and increases the hCG levels, which double every 72 hours. It reaches its peak in the first 8-11 weeks of pregnancy, after which it begins to decline. hCG is detected with a urine test 12-14 days after conception but can be picked up with a blood test [3] about 7–12 days after possible conception. According to Cleveland Clinic, tests for hCG are more accurate if you take them after you have already missed your period. 

If your HCG levels are below 5 mIU/mL, you will probably test negative for pregnancy, while anything above 25 mIU/mL is considered positive for pregnancy. Values between 6 and 24 mIU/mL indicate that you need to retest. You can confirm your pregnancy if the values begin to rise over the next few days. 

How do you take a urine pregnancy test

Make sure you check the expiry dates on the pregnancy test kit and follow the instructions when you are carrying out the test to get the most accurate results. 

Depending on the test you choose, you may have to test in either of the following ways: 

The great part about urine pregnancy tests is that they can be conveniently done in the privacy of your own home. In addition, they are more cost-effective and less invasive than blood tests, so you can repeat the test easily to reconfirm the results. 

After waiting for the recommended amount of time, you can find out the test results by checking for a color change, two lines, a symbol indicating plus or minus, or even the words positive and negative, that may appear on the testing stick. 

Difficult Decisions! When is it tricky to time your pregnancy test correctly???

If you have a regular menstrual cycle, it is generally recommended that you take the pregnancy test two weeks after your ovulation day or around the time you would usually expect your period. While some tests are sensitive enough to pick up lower levels of hCG, there are chances of getting a false-negative result if you test too early. 

The decision to test becomes tricky when your periods are irregular because it is hard to determine when ovulation or conception would have occurred. Generally, taking a pregnancy test 2 weeks after your last unprotected sexual encounter may get accurate results, provided that you had sex during your fertile window. 

However, if you are tracking your ovulation day to conceive, you may have a better idea about your fertile window. You can use that information to time your test accordingly. 

Listening to Your Body! When in doubt … test! ??

Most 10 DPO symptoms are due to rising levels of the pregnancy hormone - progesterone, which is essential for the new embryo to grow. But this can leave you with an exaggerated version of the symptoms you feel when expecting your period. 

Keep a lookout for early signs that could indicate it’s time to take a pregnancy test. If you are pregnant, it is better to find out as soon as possible to get the care you need. 

Some people notice early signs of pregnancy, such as fatigue or breast tenderness, before they miss a period.

  • You may experience a sudden dip in your energy levels and a rise in anxiety as your body changes to support the growing baby. 
  • Cramps and abdominal discomfort are usually mild and are expected with hormonal fluctuations. 
  • Nausea and vomiting are usual symptoms of early pregnancy, but some women may experience bloating and constipation. You may also fluctuate from a decreased appetite to sudden, intense cravings for certain foods. 
  • Breast tenderness and swelling are usually due to increased blood flow, which may change the size and shape of the nipple and areola as well.
  • Headaches and body aches, mood swings, and frequent trips to the bathroom are other vague symptoms of early pregnancy. 
  • Implantation bleeding may be experienced by 25% of women. This is a light bleed that occurs as the embryo implants itself into the uterine lining. You may notice faint bleeding around 6–12 days after conception, but light spotting is not uncommon during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Day or Night? That is the Question! 

Even though you can take a urine pregnancy test at any time of the day, a morning sample tends to give the best results. As you sleep, the hCG hormone accumulates in your urine overnight, increasing your chances of a positive outcome. 

Sample Selections! Blood or Urine for pregnancy tests

Pregnancy tests that use your blood or serum as samples are more sensitive and accurate than urine tests. Blood tests detect hCG levels of 2 (mIU) or greater, so a blood test might be positive before a urine test is.

Too stressed about your pregnancy results? Have you been getting a lot of negatives on your home pregnancy test, but you feel like you might be pregnant? Then getting a blood test to measure the hCG hormone level in your body is the best way to get a conclusive answer. 

Blood pregnancy tests may also be recommended for women who have had complications in previous pregnancies or experienced miscarriages. The sooner they know about their pregnancy status, the earlier they can get the help and support they need during this crucial time. 

Summary 

While it is natural to feel anxious about getting your pregnancy results as soon as possible, understanding the different factors that determine those results can be an effective way to choose the best time to take a pregnancy test. 

Summary in bullet points 

  • If you have a regular menstrual cycle, it is generally recommended that you take the pregnancy test two weeks after your ovulation day or around the time you would usually expect your period. It is essential to time the test well because taking it too early can give a false-negative result.
  • The time between ovulation and your first missed period is 12-14 days. It may help to keep an eye out for signs of pregnancy, but since the early signs are very similar to premenstrual symptoms you may otherwise feel just before your period, the changes may not be too noticeable. 
  • 10 DPO  is a great time to pay attention to your body because the signs of pregnancy become more evident at this checkpoint. 
  • Pregnancy tests work by testing the amount of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
  • hCG is detected with a urine test 12-14 days after conception but can be picked up with a blood test [3] about 7–12 days after possible conception. According to Cleveland Clinic, tests for hCG are more accurate if you take them after you have already missed your period. If your HCG levels are below 5 mIU/mL, you will probably test negative for pregnancy, while anything above 25 mIU/mL is considered positive for pregnancy.
  • Even though you can take a urine pregnancy test at any time of the day, a morning sample tends to give the best results.
  • Pregnancy tests that use your blood or serum as samples are more sensitive and accurate than urine tests. Blood tests detect hCG levels of 2 (mIU) or greater, so a blood test might be positive before a urine test is.

References

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