How early can you use an at-home pregnancy test

Whether you’re here because you’ve got some odd symptoms, you’ve missed your period, or you’re trying to conceive and want to know the best time to test for pregnancy – we’ve got you! 

A pregnancy test is the ultimate way to confirm that you’re pregnant. Thankfully, you can do this from the privacy and comfort of your own home (or your local public bathroom, if you’re that desperate.) 

Here’s the lowdown on the best time to take a pregnancy test, and how to use an at-home test kit for accurate results.

The earliest you can test for pregnancy

Some at-home pregnancy testing kits allow you to test up to six days before your expected period. This could be a good option for you if you’re actively tracking your ovulation cycles and trying to get pregnant – but note that waiting longer can help reduce inaccuracies (and potential disappointment). 

Testing as early as six days before an expected cycle should be done using specific types of early pregnancy testing kits. This can be about 78% accurate, but if you wait an extra day and test at five days before your expected period, accuracy increases to 96%. 

To test this early, you’ll need to know:

  • The date of your last menstruation cycle
  • The length of your typical cycle
  • Your last ovulation date.

You could use a handy online Pregnancy Test Calculator to work out the earliest date for you to test. 

Testing at first signs of pregnancy 

If you’re not tracking your cycles or your periods are a bit wild, you may not be able to figure out when your next one is due. 

In this case, it’s probably best to wait until you display early pregnancy symptoms. For many women, this will be a period that’s clearly late (like, you haven’t had one in months) but you could experience other early signs first, like nausea, tiredness, or sore or tender boobs

For most accurate results, test a week after when you think your period is due.

If you get a negative result after a missed period, but you still haven’t got it a week after that, it’s a good idea to follow up with another test to double-check. Remember, it doesn’t always mean you’re pregnant. You could be late for a multitude of reasons.

How it works

You can’t test for pregnancy the morning after you’ve had sex, as convinced as you may be that this is ‘the one’! 

Pregnancy testing involves looking for traces of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which can be found in blood or urine. hCG doubles every 29 to 53 hours during the first 30 days after you conceive. There won’t be a lot in your system straight away, but the longer you wait the more hCG there’ll be to test for!

At-home test kits involve peeing on a stick, or into a cup and dipping a strip into it. (It’s as glamorous as it sounds!) If you see a GP, they can confirm pregnancy by doing a blood test, but obviously, you have to wait a few days to get those results.

How to test for pregnancy at home

  1. Grab a pregnancy test from your pharmacy or supermarket.
  2. Read the packet carefully and follow the instructions to a tee.
  3. Consider testing first thing in the morning, when hCG levels are more concentrated (but that doesn’t really matter too much).
  4. Pee into the provided container, then dip your test strip into the urine, OR hold the test strip up to your stream. (Depends on the type of test you have.)
  5. Hover anxiously over the test strip for the indicated amount of time (usually a few minutes).
  6. A result will appear – a coloured line, dot, mark or word (like PREGNANT).

Moment of truth! Whatever your result is, you may feel relieved, excited, nervous, angry… who knows? Just know that there’s a community of awesome mamas ready to support you either way. 

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