When and How to Take a Pregnancy Test: Not All Women Know

A pregnancy test is the most accurate and fastest way for a woman to determine if she is “pregnant”. The accuracy of this test varies greatly depending on how well the test is performed.

How the pregnancy test works

The pregnancy test checks whether there is chorionic gonadotropin in a woman’s urine, a special hormone that is produced in the blood on the sixth day after fertilization. This is why it makes no sense to do the test earlier than six days after unprotected intercourse.

What kinds of pregnancy tests there are

  • The test strip is the most compact and cheapest option, which is easy to make at home. The strip is dipped to the right mark in a container with urine.
  • The jet test is used directly during urination. It is enough to urinate on the test and it will show the result. You can use it in any bathroom.
  • Tablet pregnancy test has a special window where you need to put a few drops of urine, using a dropper.
  • A digital test has a display that shows the result after contact with urine. These tests can be done earlier than other types of tests.

When to do a pregnancy test

Medics advise not to rush the test. In order for the test result to be the most accurate, the test should not be done before the start of your period, otherwise, it will show low efficiency. It is best to take the test on the first day of your period. Doing the test long before your period makes no sense – its result at this stage will be almost random.

But even at this stage, the test may not show an accurate result, since the concentration of gonadotropin hormone in the first days of pregnancy may be insufficient. Therefore, the highest accuracy tests have on days 5-7 of your period. At this stage, even the cheapest tests will determine pregnancy or its absence.

What else affects the accuracy of the test

  • The expiration date of the test. The sensitivity of the reagent decreases over time and the test may not register a real pregnancy.
  • The sensitivity of the test, that is, the concentration of the hormone in the urine that the drug can detect. It can be 10, 20, or 30. The lower the number, the more accurate the test.
  • Time of day. The test is recommended to be done in the first half of the day, ideally with first-morning urine. Then the concentration of the hormone will be maximum.
  • Food intake before the test. It is better to do the pregnancy test on an empty stomach and before drinking water so that the urine is not diluted.
  • Haste. If you saw one strip right after using it, it does not mean you are not pregnant. The second strip may show up in 5-10 minutes. The test indicates how long you need to wait for an accurate result.
  • Disease and certain medications. Some pills, such as diuretics, sleeping pills, and antihistamines, can dilute the urine, causing accuracy to be greatly reduced. The accuracy of the test is also affected by the presence of blood and protein in the urine.
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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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