When To Take A Pregnancy Test

I don't have a lot of advice about trying to conceive - everything I can summarize from my own experiences is that a good portion of it is biological and not something you can control, and the parts that you come, won't be made better by stress or constantly worrying.  That being said, I have a lot of experience with taking pregnancy tests, and often found myself Googling when I should take a pregnancy test?

(Rather watch than read?  Check out my video here!  Otherwise, read on!)

All pregnancy tests work the same - they detect a hormone called HCG. HCG is produced by your body about 6 days after fertilization. Since the tests look for HCG, there has to be enough of it in your body to give you a positive test.


The test is looking for a specific hormone, and if it gives you a positive, and if it gives you a positive, that means it's detected that hormone. False negatives on the other hand are very possible. Just because you get a negative test, doesn't mean that you're not pregnant. Each test has a different standard of what the minimum level of HCG it requires in order to give you a positive test.

The amount of the hormone is going to be directly proportional to the size of the fetus. A fetus starts off as a single cell and then divides.  With each division of the cell, the HCG also doubles. In the early days, the time to split, or "doubling time" is about 2-3 days. If you get a negative test and you might actually be pregnant, 2-3 days later you may actually have enough HCG in your body to get a positive test.

For my most recent pregnancy with my daughter, I tested positive at 4 weeks and 3 days since my last period, or about 2 weeks from fertizilation (when I had sex). The tricky part is that early pregnancy symptoms can feel a lot like period symptoms - cramping, bloating, moodiness, etc. It can be a really confusing time. To save yourself some of the emotional rollercoaster I don't recommend testing too early, but the best time to get value out of that pregnancy test that you're paying for is to take it around the time that you're expecting your period.

Since that doubling time is about 2-3 days, the more you wait, even if it's 2-3 days the better chance there is that you're going to get a positive test if in fact you are pregnant.

And lastly, I recommend that you follow the instructions on the test that you purchased - the only exception being that some tests recommend that you use morning urine, and in my experience, I've found that that's just not neccessary.

If you get a negative test, and you still think you're pregnant 2 or 3 days later, then take another test. A lot of tests come with 2 in one package. If you get a positive test, then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss future steps. Your doctor will requisition a blood test which can definitively determine if you're pregnant. This is definitely possible because a blood test can detect the lowest levels of HCG. And actually, positive or negative, this is a really good time to involve your health care provider.

What's the soonest that you've got a positive pregnancy test? 

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