When and How to Take a Home Pregnancy Test?

When to Take a Home Pregnancy Test
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Last update: 16-06-2020
How soon can you take a pregnancy test? How can you ensure accurate results? When and how to take a home pregnancy test?

If your periods are regular, then it doesn’t make sense to take a test before your cycle is late. With each passing day, the reliability of the results will increase. However, it’s better not to wait for weeks and especially for months. In the first weeks of pregnancy, it will be much easier for the doctor to help the mother-to-be and her unborn child plan for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

If your periods are irregular, you should wait the amount of time equal to the longest cycle you’ve had in one year. For example, if it lasted 34 days, then it is better to count the same number of days from the beginning of your last period. That is first day when you could take a home pregnancy test. Do you know the date of your ovulation? Two weeks after, you’ll be able to find out whether you are pregnant or not.

The situation largely depends on the test type. For example, a flow (stream) test with a mark 10 mIU/ml can detect successful conception even three days before you are supposed to get your period. A test kit that measures 25mIU/ml will be useless until your cycle is late.

When it’s better to take a blood pregnancy test (hCG)?

The hormone that indicates pregnancy is hCG. It is more notable in the blood than in urine. That’s why lab tests are more reliable and show earlier results than home pregnancy tests.

Do you know the date of possible conception? You can take a blood test a week after that date. If you aren’t sure about it, then the first day of the missed period is the best reason to visit the antenatal clinic.

If the results are undetermined, the gynecologist will recommend retaking a blood test after a few days. Would you rather get a confirmation from a single visit? Then wait to take the test for hCG on the third day of your missed period. At that time, its concentration is clearly visible.

Morning urine is considered optimal, because levels of hCG are the concentrated. Therefore, it’s better to take tests immediately after waking up or at least before eating and drinking any beverages, including plain water. However, flow tests are the most sensitive to hCG, so they may detect the hormone even in daytime or evening urine.

In some cases, women can get tested regardless of the time of day. Test results will be more reliable if the other symptoms are concurrent:

  • Pain in the breasts and/or nipples
  • Spasms and/or cramping/pulling pain in the lower abdomen
  • Nausea, weakness, dizziness
  • A sudden strong desire to eat something specific (cravings)

These symptoms indicate active changes of the endocrine system.

How to take a pregnancy test correctly?

General rules

  • Be sure your hands are clean and dry before the procedure
  • Check the expiration date of the test
  • Buy tests only at the pharmacy
  • Follow the rules of storage and use, as described in the package insert instructions
  • Make sure the area where you both store and take the test is clean and dry


These are the cheapest and easiest tests to use. At first, you should collect your morning urine in a clean and dry container. It’s better for it to be small but with high sides. You have to dip the strip in your urine to the indicated mark for 20 seconds. After that, put the test on a flat horizontal surface and wait for the time specified in the test kit instructions.


  • One strip—not pregnant
  • Two strips—pregnant


This test is similar to the strip test. The difference is there’s also a pipette and an indicator line is located in the frame.

Collect some urine from the container by a pipette. Leave a few drops on the indicator that is in located in a small hole of the frame. Wait a few minutes.


  • One strip—not pregnant
  • Two strips—pregnant


The main advantage of this test is its ability to show the approximate time of conception. You should:

  1. Remove the cap from the test. Proceed to the second step immediately
  2. Place the product edge under the urine stream for five seconds or immerse it in the container with urine for 20 seconds
  3. Put the cap back on and place the product on a horizontal surface. You can also hold it in your hands but be sure its edge is pointing down, not up
  4. Wait until the final image appears on the screen.


  • “Not pregnant”, “No” or “-”—you’re not pregnant
  • “Pregnant”, “Yes” or “+” and number—shows that you’re pregnant and the approximate time since conception

Flow (stream)

This test is recognized for its accuracy, good response to hCG and ease of use. Remove the cap and put the test edge under the urine stream. It is recommended to tilt it down. Often, the result starts appearing in 30 seconds. However, for best results, set it aside and wait for 3-10 minutes.


  • One strip—not pregnant
  • Two strips—pregnant

How soon can you take a pregnancy test?

Fertilization of the egg occurs within 12 hours after successful sexual intercourse, although, even with testing, it is impossible to determine the exact moment. Besides, it takes a week or even more for the embryo to implant in the uterus wall. As soon as this happens, the production of the gonadotropin hormone will begin. It is the one that helps determine pregnancy.

So, hCG appears in the body approximately 7-10 days after conceiving. Then its quantity doubles every 2-3 days. In the second or third month of pregnancy, its concentration reaches the maximum.

Accordingly, the test shouldn’t be taken earlier than a week after sex.

When to take a test after a missed period?

If your periods are regular, you can take a home pregnancy test 1-3 days after your missed period. If not, it’s better to wait at least another 2-3 days or take tests several times within an interval of three days.

If woman is doing everything to get pregnant, she may try to find out the result even a couple of days before her estimated menstruation. In this case, she’ll need a flow or digital test; the other options aren’t sensitive enough to use in advance of a potentially missed period.

On the seventh day of the late cycle, if there are no specific diseases present and all the instructions were followed, any test kits will reliably show whether a woman is pregnant or not.

When a home pregnancy test kit is positive?

The answer to this question is in the instructions, as each product is different. As a rule, the waiting time does not exceed 20 minutes. Strips require more time, and flow, digital and tablet tests show results sooner.

Another important criterion is a duration of pregnancy. The shorter it is, the longer it takes for the results to show. If you use a test of low sensitivity, day or evening urine may cause a false negative.

There is a separate category of cases associated with strip tests that is misleading. The product may not detect pregnancy after a designated period of time. But after an hour or even after a day, a second line can appear on it. But the results may not be accurate. It’s better to repeat the test or consult a gynecologist.

Pregnancy test showed a faint line — why?

A faint line occurs most likely because of a low level of hCG. Wait it out for three days and repeat the test. The quantity of hormone level will increase markedly and the line will become brighter.

However, if the test has a low sensitivity, it is better to buy another one with a mark of 10 mIU/ml. You can also double-check your results by purchasing several different brands of test kits or by testing in the antenatal clinic.