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Home Pregnancy Tests
After a fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, a woman’s body starts producing a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). A home pregnancy test detects the hCG hormone in a woman’s urine.
Sometimes, you can take a home pregnancy test, and the results are confusing. Your mind feels like it’s playing tricks on you. Is that a faint line? Or are you imagining a faint line? You might question the reliability of the test.
There are claims that home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate, but it’s important to know the percentage of accuracy is not that high when the test is taken right at the time of a missed period.
Now you might be wondering how soon you can take a home pregnancy test and still get an accurate result.
How Many Days After Conception Can I Take a Pregnancy Test?
Conception occurs the moment an egg is fertilized. It takes about four to five days for the fertilized egg to travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus. So, implantation into the uterine lining occurs about four to five days after conception or about seven to ten days after ovulation.
As soon as the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, the hCG pregnancy hormone is produced. This means a high-quality pregnancy test could detect a pregnancy in as little as five days after conception.
However, according to the Mayo Clinic, it is advisable to take a pregnancy test after the first day of your missed period to reduce the chances of getting a false negative result.
False-negative results are much more common than false-positive results. A false negative result usually occurs because the pregnancy test was taken too early to detect the pregnancy. If you get a negative result, but you still think you could be pregnant, take another test in a few days.
False-negative results can also occur for other reasons such as using urine that is too diluted and failing to follow the directions precisely. A false-negative result can also come about from an ectopic pregnancy, a serious condition that requires immediate medical treatment.
How early can home pregnancy tests show positive results?
Since the earliest recorded history, women have had a strong desire to know whether they are pregnant as early as possible. The body goes through countless changes in the first trimester, and one of the first indicators is a change in the hormones that leave the body through urine.
Ancient Egyptians relied on a form of urine testing to determine pregnancy status way back in 1350 BCE. A woman urinated daily on wheat or barley seeds and if the plants grew, it meant she was pregnant. Modern-day validation suggests that test was about 70% accurate in detecting human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced by a woman’s body soon after implantation of a fertilized egg inside the uterus.
Thankfully, urine-based pregnancy tests have evolved substantially. Women now have access to advanced tests that can detect a pregnancy as early as eight days after ovulation. But while many home pregnancy tests are marketed as simple and effective, getting accurate results comes down to how early in your ovulation cycle you take the test.
Ovulation generally occurs around day 15 of a 28-day cycle. In a normal pregnancy, an egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and then travels into the uterus, where it implants in the uterine wall. After implantation, production of hCG starts from cells in the developing placenta (tissue that will feed the fetus). Trace levels of hCG can be detected as early as eight days after ovulation.
That means you could get positive results several days before you expect your period to start. However, the first part of your cycle is more variable than the second, making it tricky to determine the best time for an early test.
How Soon Will A Pregnancy Test Read Positive?
While some pregnancy tests claim to work a few days before a missed period, the results are usually less accurate at that point. Some tests may be able to detect pregnancy hormones in urine as early as 10 days following unprotected sex, but the results are not very reliable, and women may get a false positive or false negative test result.
For women who have irregular periods or who do not get periods at all, testing about 3 weeks after unprotected sex may yield more reliable results.
If a test reads positive, a woman may want to check with her doctor for a blood pregnancy test to confirm the results.
Most women who have a positive pregnancy test should wait a week or two before calling the doctor for a blood test.
Why Might A Pregnancy Test Produce the Wrong Result?
There are 2 types of inaccurate results:
- False negative – the test indicates a woman is not pregnant but she is
- False positive – the test shows a woman is pregnant but she’s not
There are several reasons for inaccurate results:
- Urine is too dilute – this can occur if a woman drinks too much water or tests later in the day
- Testing too soon after unprotected sex – the body may not have produced enough HCG to be detectable
- Using a test that does not detect lower levels of HCG – check package labels for which tests are more sensitive
- Using an expired test
- Not using a test right away after opening
- Use of infertility medications such as clomiphene (Clomid), menotropins (Pergonal, Humegon, Repronex) can cause false positives
- The manufacturer of Clomid suggests waiting three days between the last Clomid dose and the first day testing for ovulation.
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