Generations of women before us would never have even considered taking a pregnancy test before they missed at least one period. With changing times and the developments in modern technology, women who are trying-to-conceive have many options that help decrease the anxiety of parents who are wondering if they’re expecting. In their excitement, women may want to take a pregnancy test as soon as they miss their period, which may not always be the best time to do so.
So when should one take a pregnancy test? Let us first understand how these tests work.
How Pregnancy Tests Work
Before you know the answer to this question, it is important to understand the chronology of ovulation, conception and implantation.
After intercourse, the dominant follicle in a woman’s ovary is ruptured and releases the egg into the nearest fallopian tube. It takes up to 24 hours for that egg to get fertilized. A healthy sperm cell in the fallopian tube will be able to penetrate the egg and lead to conception.
Conception and Implantation
In the next few days, the newly fertilized egg, or the embryo, will journey through the Fallopian tube into the uterus and will start implanting itself into the uterine lining. After implantation, which happens 6-12 days after ovulation, the placenta will begin to secrete hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), or the “pregnancy hormone”.
The amount of hCG that is secreted doubles after every 48-72 hours post implantation. By 7 or so days after ovulation, a pregnant woman will have up to 50 mIU/ml of hCG in her blood. Both the urine based and blood based pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of hCG. Home pregnancy tests may not always be accurate and their result may depend on their sensitivity.
How reliable are the Tests
According to research, most tests are 99 percent effective if taken after a missed period. Home pregnancy tests can be done in the privacy of your own home. Follow the instructions on the test and wait for the recommended amount of time to view the results. After the waiting time has passed, your tests will display the result in one of the following ways, depending on the type of test you’ve chosen:
- A change in color
- A line
- A symbol, such as plus or minus
- The words “pregnant” or “not pregnant”
When to take a Pregnancy Test
Every pregnancy is different. If you test too soon, even with a sensitive test, the amount of hCG in your urine may not be high enough to detect pregnancy. Studies show that one in every 10 woman may have very low levels of hCG levels at the time of a missed period. So if you have a negative result and you don’t get your period, test again in three days’ time. If you are pregnant, by then the levels of hormone may be high enough to be picked up by the test.
If you are still confused by your home pregnancy test, see a gynecologist who may recommend blood test. This can also detect hCG as blood tests are more sensitive than urine tests. They can detect pregnancy from about six days to eight days after ovulation. See our experts at KIMS Cuddles to know more about testing for pregnancy.
Signs that you should take a Pregnancy Test
Here are some signs that may indicate to a possible pregnancy. Take the test if you have:
- Missed a period
This is one of the first and most reliable signs of pregnancy. It is important that you track your cycle closely to determine whether or not you’re late. Many women have a 28-day menstrual cycle. Your period can sometimes be delayed or skipped due to stress, diet, exercise or certain medical conditions. You should also pay attention to your flow. In the early weeks of pregnancy, you may experience light bleeding or spotting. See your doctor if you have bleeding after a positive pregnancy test.
Implantation can lead to similar symptoms or pain as menstrual cramps. You may feel this discomfort in the early pregnancy. This may lead you to think that a period is just around the corner. But if it doesn’t come, take a test.
- Hurting Breasts
As your pregnancy progresses, your body produces more and more estrogen and progesterone. These hormones start to make changes in your body to support the baby’s growth. You may feel tenderness in your breasts and a change in their appearance due to increased blood flow. Since many woman experience similar breast discomfort in the days leading up to their period, this symptom isn’t always indicative of pregnancy.
- Other Symptoms
Apart from the above discussed symptoms, an early pregnancy can cause nausea, food aversions, exhaustion, and frequent urination etc. As the weeks go on, these symptoms may get stronger before your hCG levels rise even later in the first trimester. Pay attention to these symptoms and take a pregnancy test if you feel something out of usual.
- Failed Contraceptives
Birth control pills, condoms and other contraceptives aren’t 100 percent reliable if you want to prevent pregnancy. According to research, 9 out of every 100 women on the pill will get pregnant if they don’t take it as directed. Condoms can break and tear or used incorrectly, leading to several women getting pregnant each year. Despite taking birth control, if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, consider taking a test.
If you’re concerned about the failure of contraceptives, talk to your doctor about alternative methods such as an intrauterine device (IUD). Our doctors at KIMS Cuddles can explain about these methods to you in detail.
If you’re sexually active and in your reproductive years, pay heed to the signals that your body sends and take a pregnancy test. Ideally, take the test after you think you’ve missed your period. Test it with your first bathroom visit in the morning, or hold it for several hours to increase concentration of the hCG hormone.
Early testing can ensure that you and your baby get the best care. If you get a positive result, see our experienced doctors at KIMS Cuddles to discuss further steps in your motherhood journey.