Wednesday, 11 November 2009

When Can You First Test for Pregnancy?

You have watched your fertility signs carefully; counted the days until your most fertile time; timed all interactions with your partner. And now….you wait. And wait. And wait. The two weeks until your period is (hopefully not) due feels like it will take forever.
You are excited and apprehensive all in the same moment and you want to know if you are pregnant NOW.

The Science
Knowing how soon you can test reliably depends on your cycle. Ovulation generally happens around day 14 of your menstrual cycle (the first day of your period is day 1). However, not all women ovulate at the same time. Some women ovulate earlier or later in their cycle and may still have “regular” 28 days cycles.

Approximately 6 to 10 days after the egg has been fertilized, it will implant in the lining of your uterus. Once implantation has occurred, your body will begin to produce hCG (the hormone that pregnancy tests measure). For the first 60 days of your pregnancy, the hCG levels within your body will double every 2-3 days. So, if you happen to ovulate later in your cycle than “average”, there may only be a small amount of hCG in your body the day you expect your period.

The Tests
Buying the test:

You can purchase online, in drugstores, and in discount warehouses. When you are standing in front of the counter, or the computer screen, looking over the numerous options, you will want to consider three factors: how sensitive the test is, the method for completing the test, and the price.

Home pregnancy tests work by measuring the amount of hCG in your body. If the amount is high enough, the test will show that you are pregnant. But, all tests are not the same. Some tests are more sensitive; that is, they require a smaller amount of hCG to be in your system to register as a positive. Remember, hCG levels get higher and higher with each day of your pregnancy. So, if a test requires that you have 50 units and you only have 30, the test will read as a negative even though you really are pregnant. Here is a list of the most common brands of pregnancy tests and how much hCG they require to show a positive result:

Test Name
Smallest amount of hCG measured

20 mIU

AccuHome Midstream Pregnancy Tests
25 mIU

Answer Early Result
25 mIU

Clearblue Easy Earliest
25 mIU

Confirm 1-Step Pregnancy Test
25 mIU

25 mIU

First Response Early Result
25 mIU

One Step Be Sure
25 mIU

e.p.t. Home Pregnancy Test
40 mIU

Clearblue Easy
50 mIU

CVS Cartridge Test
50 mIU

Dollar Store Brand
50 mIU

Drug Emporium Brand
50 mIU

Early Pregnancy Test
50 mIU

Target Brand
50 mIU

Walgreens Brand
50 mIU

100 mIU

First Response
100 mIU

100 mIU

100 mIU

Fact Plus
150-250 mIU


Make sure to read the directions to see how you will complete the test so that you get one with a method that you are comfortable with and is convenient for the environment you are testing in. Some tests come with sticks that you hold in your urine stream; others require that you “pee in a cup” and then dip the test in the cup.

Just because a test is expensive does not mean it is a better test. Consider your other two variables – sensitivity and method – and then compare prices. Also, consider when you are going to be testing – if you are going to be testing as early as possible, you may have to test a couple of times if you get a negative result, so consider buying a brand that comes with more than one test.

Taking the Test
Bottom line? Take a test as late as you can stand! As excited as you are, imagine how you will feel if the test comes back negative only because you tested too soon? If you are tracking the external signs and symptoms of ovulation (cervical fluid, basal body temperature) or if you used an ovulation predictor kit, wait at least 14 days from the day ovulation was detected and use one of the most sensitive tests.

Can a test be positive and be wrong?
If you are doing a medicated fertility cycle and used an hCG booster to trigger ovulation, you must wait until that hCG is out of your system before you can test (14 days for 10,000U of hCG) . Testing too early may show a positive result only due to the remaining hCG. If you have had a recent birth or miscarriage, testing may show positive due to the remaining hCG in your system as well. Otherwise, a line is a line and you are pregnant!

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