If you’re currently trying to conceive, you’ve no doubt already taken a pregnancy test. Still, it’s useful to understand how they work and why you shouldn’t test early.
When should you take a pregnancy test?
Most pregnancy tests can be taken from the first day of your missed period. If you’re unsure when your next period is due, you can take a test around 2 weeks after you last had unprotected sex1. Some tests are very sensitive and can be used even before your missed period. All tests are slightly different, so be sure to read the instructions before use.
How do pregnancy tests work?
Pregnancy tests are urine tests that measure a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced when pregnant. Most pregnancy tests come in a kit containing one or two test sticks. You either pee on the stick or dip the stick into a container with your urine and the result appears after a few minutes.
Pregnancy test results
Home pregnancy tests are accurate as long as you follow the instructions correctly. A positive test result is almost always correct. Most pregnancy test kits have 97–99% accuracy when used correctly. If you’re pregnant you should contact your GP to start your antenatal care. They will give you information related to your pregnancy and your care moving forward, like connecting you with midwife services. You should also start taking folic acid and vitamin D if you haven’t already. If you get a negative result and still think you’re pregnant, wait a few days and try again. Speak to your GP if you get a negative result after a second test but your period has not arrived.
The result of your pregnancy test might not be reliable if you don’t follow the instructions properly or if you test too early. Taking a test early can be incredibly tempting when you’re trying to conceive, but it’s important to wait, as you could be disappointed by a false negative result. You should try to avoid testing before it’s recommended to do so by the kit you’re using.
- NHS | Doing a pregnancy test