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When to Test for Pregnancy to Get Accurate Results (Morning or Night?)

Pregnancy tests are for the most part reliable and accurate.

When to test for pregnancy is just the beginning of all the questions in your head when you suspect that you may be expecting. Should you do it morning or night? How much pee does it need? How do I know if this pregnancy test is working? 

Well, to answer the last question, the result of a home pregnancy test is pretty accurate. It is designed to give women a quick answer. But, if you do not want any doubts, a doctor can confirm confirm it via a blood test or an ultrasound. It can also serve as first prenatal visit. 

How to use a pregnancy test

A home pregnancy test kit detects levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced by a developing placenta. The test kit usually comes with a small cup and a dropper. 

Lay the test kit on a flat surface. Collect urine using the cup and then with the dropper, place three to five drops of your uring on the space provided in the kit. You need to do this carefully and wait for the paper to absorb one urine drop entirely before adding the next one. 

Other types of pregnancy test kits come in the form of a stick where one end or tip has a litmus paper-like material. Collect urine, as directed in the pregnancy test kit's instructions, and then just dip the paper tip of the pregnant test kit in the cup. 

Pregnancy tests come with instructions — all you need to do is follow it step-by-step to get accurate results. Many pregnancy test kids deliver results in just three to five minutes. 

If you see just one line, it's negative — you are not pregnant. If two lines appear, then you're pregnant! Some pregnancy tests kits show a change in color; a plus (+) symbol, which means you are pregnant or minus (-), which means you are not; or the words "pregnant" or "not pregnant."

When to test for pregnancy 

Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel explain in their book What To Expect When You're Expecting a woman's body is already producing hCG once an embryo begins implanting itself in the uterus. The hormone can already be detected in the blood and urine between six to 12 days after fertilization. However, it's also possible that home pregnancy tests may not be able to detect hCG yet after a week after conception.

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The key to getting the most accurate results from home pregnancy tests is when to take it. While taking the test too early will guarantee you and your baby early prenatal care, it could also lead to a false negative result. It means that the pregnancy test kit may show a negative result, but you may still be pregnant. Here are signs that suggest you may need to take a pregnancy test:

You missed your period

The most obvious and crucial, not to mention logical, reason to take a pregnancy test kit is when you're menstrual period is delayed. But it's better to wait at least a week to 10 days after you have missed it before taking a pregnancy test. If you do it too early, such as before your scheduled period or just a day or two after you've missed it, then it has a higher chance of rendering a false negative result.

You have light spotting and cramps

Embryo implantation has been known to cause a little spotting. It can also feel like you have menstrual cramps. It's why it's good to wait before taking your test because your period may just be delayed. 

You have tender, sore breasts

While this could easily be a sign that you're about to get your period, it could also be a sign that you have increased blood flow in your system. Your breast may also appear bigger, and your nipples may hurt, too. 

You feel 'different'

Are you feeling more tired than usual or more sensitive to some scents or odors? Do you feel sleepy all the time, a little bit dizzy, or like you want to vomit even though you don't? These are also some early signs of pregnancy, though it does not always mean you've conceived. 

You suspect that you're pregnant

You could also take a pregnancy test if you have reason to believe that you might be pregnant. If you missed taking your contraceptive pill and/or had unprotected sex during your ovulation period or fertile window, you can take a pregnancy test. 

If your home pregnancy test turned out positive and you still have not gotten your period, retake the test after a day or a few days. The hCG levels in a woman's body usually double daily if she's pregnant.    

When to test for pregnancy if you have irregular periods

Having an irregular period (if your menstrual cycle length is anywhere from less than 21 days to more than 35 days and varies month after month) can make trying for a baby more challenging. It makes it hard to pinpoint exactly when you're ovulating. You will need to work with your doctor closely.

The Office of Women's Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, suggests that the ideal time for women with irregular periods to take a home pregnancy test is 36 days from the start of your last menstrual cycle or four weeks after you had unprotected sex. It should be enough time for the levels of hCG to be high enough to detect the pregnancy.

When to test for pregnancy after an IUI or IVF

If you've undergone artificial reproductive technology procedures such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), a pregnancy home test can also be handy to determine pregnancy. However, you need to wait two whole weeks after a possible conception before doing so. Also, waiting 14 full days isn't too far from the recommended 10- to 12-day wait after missing your period before taking the test. 

"Several days are required for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus and start emitting enough hormones to be detected by a pregnancy test," explains Dr. Eric Levens, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility, in Virginia. Resist the urge to test earlier to ensure you get an accurate result and to level your expectations, however, do take it easy just in case you indeed have a bun in your oven. 

Accuracy of pregnancy test kits

Pregnancy test kits, when done correctly and taken at the right time, are almost 100-percent accurate — 97% to be exact. While a false negative result can happen when you take a pregnancy test too early, once a pregnancy test kit shows you two lines, you are more likely and most undoubtedly pregnant. 

No matter how faint or blurred or unclear the second line may be, a positive pregnancy test result means that hCG is present in your body and the only way that can happen is when you're pregnant. The faint line may be due to the sensitivity of the pregnancy home test. 

Check the pregnancy home test's milli-international units per liter (mIU/L); the lower the mIU number, the more sensitive. For example, a pregnancy home test with a sensitivity of 20mIU/L can detect hCG better that a pregnancy home test with 50mIU/L sensitivity. Keep this in mind when buying a pregnancy test kit.

Taking the pregnancy test using your first pee in the morning is recommended. However, if you're pregnant, the pregnancy test kit will detect hCG levels in your body and render a positive result no matter what time you choose to do the test, as long as you waited until after you missed your period or a week after. 

If you've tested negative on several home pregnancy tests and your period still hasn't arrived, you need to consult your obstetrician-gynecologist. Having a pregnancy test by beta-testing hCG levels in your body is way more accurate than any home pregnancy test.

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