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How Soon Can I Take a Pregnancy Test?
How soon can I take a pregnancy test?
If you are trying to get pregnant (or even if you just think there is a chance you might be pregnant after having unprotected sex) and you are wondering what is the earliest date that you can take a pregnancy test, then there are a number of factors that you need to take into account before you can decide on the answer to this.
Firstly, if your period is already a week late then you can already take any of the home pregnancy tests that are on the market and you should get an accurate result. I say you 'should get' because obviously there are always exceptions to the rule and it may depend on how regular your cycles are.
Also, you really need to have regular periods to know when your period is a week late!
So let's look at the factors you need to take into account:
Do You Know When You Ovulated?
If you are monitoring your cycles because you are trying to get pregnant then you may well know the answer to this question but if you are not necessarily trying to get pregnant or just not trying and not preventing, then you may well not be aware of when you ovulated (you can check out further info about this on another of my articles).
If you do not know when you ovulated then you can guess, although it may not be that accurate! If you have regular length cycles then it is reasonably common to ovulate 14 days before the first day of your period so you could take that as a rough guess. This may only cover 2/3 of the population though so may not be that accurate.
So if you think that your period is due on the 20th of the month then the most common time of ovulation would be around the 6th of the month.
What Pregnancy Test Are You Using?
There are different pregnancy tests available that pick up the pregnancy hormone, HCG, at different strengths. The most sensitive test picks up HCG levels of about 10 in your urine. Other tests pick up HCG at levels of 20, 25 or 50. So the higher the level of HCG is picked up by the tests, the later you will be able to use that test as the HCG builds up in your system.
You can pick up very cheap 10 mui pregnancy test strips on Amazon but obviously if you want to test now you cannot wait to get these delivered! So, if you are planning a pregnancy and are looking for a cheap way of testing then these are a good buy.
Cheap Pregnancy Test Strips
These test strips will pick up a pregnancy really early and are seriously cheap. Having used them myself I found they are really easy to use and accurate.
When Can I Test?
So, the question is, how soon can you use each type of pregnancy test strip? Well you would have to have built up that level of HCG hormone in your body for it to show a positive line. The standard levels of HCG differ according to where you look but wikipedia reports the following levels:
weeks since LMP - HCG level
3 weeks = 5 – 50
4 weeks = 5 – 426
5 weeks = 18 – 7,340
6 weeks = 1,080 – 56,500
If you break this down to a more detailed level, based on the pregnancies that I have observed through many friends on a pregnancy forum (not scientific but you see a lot of stats on there over a year or so) then you can generally expect tests to show positive according to these levels:
10 days past ovulation - should see a faint line on a 10 mui test strip
12 days past ovulation - you may see a faint line on a 20 or 25 mui test
14 days past ovulation - you may see a positive on a 50 mui test
So this is where it is more important that you know what day you ovulated as there can be a big discrepancy in whether you see a positive or not. Also of course some people have a later implantation (the time when the HCG starts to build up) so the levels will not rise until later. Also, bizarrely there are some people who do not show a positive on a pregnancy test until 6 weeks or later.
So the basic answer is that a LOT of pregnancies will show a faint positive (on the right test) at between 10-14 days after you ovulated which should be up to 4 days before your period is due.
My Period is Late
If your period is already late then you should be able to test with pretty much any home pregnancy test these days. The most accurate ones are the digital tests which will give you a 'pregnant' or 'Not pregnant' in the window to avoid any doubt.
If you get a 'Not pregnant' or other negative test but still believe that you might be, then wait a week and test again (easily said!) - or at least wait a few days, especially if you have irregular cycles that could mean your ovulation date may be later than you thought.
Also stress can make your period late (even underlying stress that you don't realise) so there is always the chance that worrying about being pregnant is the reason your period has not turned up yet.
Digital Pregnancy Tests
The digital pregnancy tests like the one shown in the photo just above give you an accurate and indisputable result because they use the words 'Pregnant' or 'Not Pregnant' so you can be sure of the result that you are getting.
The slight downside of these is that they are slightly less sensitive than the cheap pregnancy test strips so you probably need to wait until a day or two at most before your period is due to use them.
You can buy these tests online as per the product to the right.