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How Soon Can I Take a Pregnancy Test?

Updated on April 8, 2017
Butterfly67 profile image

I spent 3 years researching fertility for my own benefit which finally resulted in having a healthy baby in 2014.

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.

A 10 mui test strip will show a positive at around 10 days past ovulation in most people.
A 10 mui test strip will show a positive at around 10 days past ovulation in most people.

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.

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.

Some tests will say 'pregnant' or 'Not Pregnant' just to make things really clear.
Some tests will say 'pregnant' or 'Not Pregnant' just to make things really clear.

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.


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    • mom0f2 profile image

      mom0f2 5 years ago from Columbus, OH

      I took one the day after I was late for mt period and it showed I was pregnant.

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 5 years ago from UK

      Yes, I believe that most tests will show a pregnancy 1 day after your period is due, which is much improved from a few years ago as the tests are so sensitive now.

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      kelleyward 5 years ago

      I took my test days after ovulation because I was undergoing fertility treatments. A faint line is a line indeed! Thanks for the informative hub. I'm sure many will benefit from this one!

    • profile image

      MARY 5 years ago

      I MADE LUV D DAY I SHOULDER SEE MY PERIOD AND SINE THAT DAY IT HAS NOT COM CAN I BE PERGANT

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Mary, if you definitely know that your period was due that day and you had ovulated 10 to 14 days before then no, you should not be pregnant. However, if you have irregular periods and you do not know when you actually ovulated then it is possible but unlikely, unless your cycles vary very widely.

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      beccam 5 years ago

      I had been on the depo pill injection for 18 months, and I stopped taking it in october; sp 6 months ago. Since febuary I have been having regular unprotected sex using the withdrawl method. Whilst on the pill injection I bled constantly, and that stopped in january; I haven't bled since. I last had sex 12 days ago (twice in that day) again using the withdrawl method. Since then I have felt extremely tired, and feeling nauseus of a morning (been sick once 1 morning) and cannot drink alcohol as one small drink makes me sick (usually I could drink a lot and be fine), my mum an sister could not touch alcohol without being sick whilst pregnant. Could I be pregnant?

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 5 years ago from UK

      Hi beccam, basically if you have unprotected sex during your fertile time then it is possible that you could be pregnant as the withdrawal method is not totally foolproof. If you last had sex 12 days ago then you may get a positive on something like a 10mui (very sensitive) test by now. However, in order to get a more definitive answer it might be better to wait at least a couple of days before testing. You could use a First response early test as this may show a second line at this stage.

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      beccam 5 years ago

      Thanks for your response, when i have sat down and thought about it approx 4 weeks a day i bled a little bit for one day, mot sure if it is relevant to my situation, i was just unsure due to not having a proper period since january-ish. Thanks for you advice x

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      html 4 years ago

      Just wanted to say your posts and feedback responses are great.started ttc since feb this year but with irregular periods it has been hard to tell.i am trying to chart bmt now to figure out when i ovulate but if i am in fact already pregnant would my temp stay the same?i have taken a test this morning as april and may's period never came but it is negative. Not sure what to do nowas i have had most symptoms.cramps sore breasts headaches frequent urination feeling sick and lower back pain.docs also checked for any infections.shud i just wait to test again?

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks html. Like you say it is really difficult to know what is going on if you have irregular periods but charting your temp is a great idea. If you have got a negative then in your situation I would say wait a week to test. Your temperature will stay high when you are pregnant, yes. Good luck.

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      lilmama2012 4 years ago

      well with my first pregnancy which was twins i got the $1 test from dollar general and took it the day after i missed my period and it was deffinately positive i wasn't trying to concieve so i didn't suspect it. i am now pregnant and we was trying to concieve i wasn't due for my period for like 5 days or so i was only 3 weeks pregnant with a hcg level of 43 when i took HPT the first kind i took was the same dollar general test and it showed an extremely faint line so i was kinda excited but discouraged at the same time well the same night i took that test i took 3 clear blue digital and all showed pregnant. i am now 22 weeks pregnant with a BOY!!!!

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 4 years ago from UK

      Wow that is great news, massive congrats lilmama.

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      tumi 4 years ago

      I was on my period last week and I was having unprotected sex all the time. Now I feel dizzy and nusiou my brest are very soft and my nipples are getting big and really dark

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 4 years ago from UK

      Tumi, if you were on your period last week then it is unlikely that you are pregnant already. Ovulation happens at a minimum of about 10 days into your cycle (although can be earlier) and you would not be able to take a test until about 9-10 days after ovulation which would be around 20 days after the first day of your period.

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      adams122 4 years ago

      hi I removed my implanon aug 28 and i have been having unprotected sex with my husband I ovulated on sep 2 then on the 14 i started bleeding and it was gone in 3 days. could i be pregnant ive taken hpt and they were negative all though my breasts are larger i have lower back pain and my sense of smell is crazy am i testing to early or am i not pregnant

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 4 years ago from UK

      Hi adams122, it sounds like you are not pregnant to be honest. If you had your period from 14-17th September then you would still be halfway through that cycle and possibly just about to ovulate again. Also don't forget that your cycles will take a short while to get back to normal so you should not expect them to be regular for a few months at least.

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      anxious 2 years ago

      First day of last period was 12th sept. Lasted 5 days. Had unprotected sex during & a few days after period. Also had unprotected sex (using the pull out method but not very well)! 7 days ago & 3 days ago. Am I at risk.

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 2 years ago from UK

      In one word, yes.

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      priya 22 months ago

      , i am 22 years old. I had my period from 24- 29 may n had unprotected sex on 30th. I took an I -72 before 36 hrs. After 10 days .I.e on June 10, i observed a brownish discharge. Could it be a sign of pregnancy? Please reply ASAP.

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 22 months ago from UK

      I would say it is extremely unlikely. To start with you had sex on day 7 of your cycle which would only result in a pregnancy if you ovulate very early (day 10 or 11 at the latest) and even then it is unlikely. Secondly you took the I 72 pill so that should have prevented it in the unlikely scenario it did happen and thirdly brown discharge is not, on it's own, a symptom of pregnancy. So hopefully you can rest at ease as it is really highly unlikely that you are pregnant.

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 22 months ago from UK

      Sorry I have only just seen your comment but no, a brownish discharge is not a sign of pregnancy - you could get that whether you are pregnant or not.

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      Priya 21 months ago

      Hi thanku so much for ur reply. Also i havent received my periods since that discharge on june 10-15. I took a pregancy test on 1st july which was negative. So, when should i expect my periods now ?

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 21 months ago from UK

      That is a very good question! Any medication that contains some kind of hormones (which I assume i 72 does) is likely to mess up your cycle for a bit so I'm afraid you will just have to be patient. Hopefully it shouldn't be too long though.

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      samantha 16 months ago

      Me and my husband had unprotected sex three weeks ago at what I believe i's the time I was ovulating my period was due right around Christmas and still has not showed up. I'm having a lot of symptoms dizzynes nausea and I'm very very very sleepy and emotional. I took a test on Christmas and it came back negative. Would it still be to soon to take a test?

    • Butterfly67 profile image
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      Butterfly67 16 months ago from UK

      I would say generally to wait 3 days between tests so I don't think it is too early to take another one. Good luck.

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