Yes, your period is late and you’re hoping that breast tenderness and nausea are pregnancy symptoms not just PMS. The surest way to know for certain that you are or are not pregnant is to take a pregnancy test.

Understanding Pregnancy Tests

There are two types of pregnancy tests; one uses a urine sample, the other a blood sample.

Urine tests can be performed in two different ways and these can be performed at home or in a clinic. One way involves collecting your urine in a cup and dipping a stick into the urine or putting urine into a special container with an eyedropper. Another option involves placing a stick into your urine stream and catching your urine in midstream.

Tests vary in how long you have to wait to get a result. You will be looking for a change in color, a line, or a symbol (like a plus or minus) or the words “not pregnant” or “pregnant”.

How accurate are urine tests?

Urine tests or home pregnancy tests are around 97% accurate when done correctly. The key is to take the test first thing in the morning, with your first urination. The pregnancy hormone, hCG, if there is any, will be at its highest concentration making it more likely that the test will detect it.

Home pregnancy tests are great to use because they are convenient, inexpensive, private, they give a fast result, and are easy to use. The American Pregnancy Association recommends the affordable early detection pregnancy tests  from our corporate sponsor Fairhaven Health. Fairhaven’s BFP Early Pregnancy Test Strip is highly sensitive so you can begin testing as early as four days before your missed period.

However, if done incorrectly or taken too early, the result can be inaccurate. If you get a negative result and still have symptoms of pregnancy (missed period, nausea, breast tenderness, and fatigue), wait a week and take another test or ask your doctor for a blood test.

Blood Tests

There are two types of blood tests. A quantitative blood test measures the exact amount of hCG in the blood, and a qualitative hCG blood test gives a simple yes or no answer to whether you are pregnant or not.

Advantages of having a blood test done:

  • Can detect a pregnancy earlier than a urine test at about 7-12 days from possible conception (but if a negative result is received, a test should be repeated if a period is missed.)
  • Can measure the concentration of hCG hormone in your blood (this is useful information for your healthcare provider in tracking certain problems in pregnancy)

Disadvantages of having a blood test done:

  • More expensive than a urine test (price depends on the cost of doctor’s visit and lab fees)
  • Takes longer to get the result
  • Must be done in a doctor’s office

How does a pregnancy test work?

Both pregnancy test types detect the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is produced by the placenta shortly after the embryo attaches to the uterine lining and builds up rapidly in your body in the first few days of pregnancy. It is this rapid shift in hormones that trigger most of your pregnancy symptoms.

When is the earliest I can take a home pregnancy test?

Most at-home tests state you can test as soon as the first day of your expected period. It’s the experience of our nurses and pregnancy educators that when women test within a day or two of their missed periods they may get an inaccurate negative result. We recommend testing after being seven days late.

This is because it’s considered normal to start your period anytime from seven days before to seven days after it’s due and still be within the “normal” time frame. Pregnancy tests work best when the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) has built up in your system. This usually happens around 11 – 12 days after ovulation. Most women get their period around 14 days after ovulation.

If your test is positive

If your potential pregnancy is unplanned, no doubt you have many questions and possible concerns. Please call us at 1-800-672-2296 or chat with us by clicking the chat window. Our pregnancy educators can provide advice about your options plus locate the pregnancy center closest to you. They can provide a free pregnancy test to verify your pregnancy, plus provide multiple resources and support.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy Tests

If I get a positive result on a home pregnancy test, does that mean I am pregnant?

A positive result from a home pregnancy test shows the presence of the hormone hCG in your system. When an egg is implanted in a woman’s uterine lining, hCG hormones begin to develop and multiply. This is a sign that you have become pregnant.

If I get a negative result on a home pregnancy test, does that mean I am not pregnant?

A negative result can mean that you are not pregnant, you took the test too early, or you took the test wrong. Pregnancy tests vary in their sensitivity (how soon they can detect the hormone hCG), and you may not have given your body enough time to produce enough hCG hormones that will show up on the test.

Also, if you let a test sit for too long (after the instructions on the box tell you), the test is invalid. It is best to follow the instructions and wait until you have missed a period before taking the test. Most pregnancy tests come with two in a box, and it is a good idea to take both.

When is the earliest I can take a home pregnancy test?

It is recommended that you wait until you have missed a period to take a home test. A missed period is often one of the first signs of pregnancy. If you cannot wait that long to find out and you know the day you may have conceived, then the earliest you can take a test would be 14 days from possible conception.

What if I take a couple of home pregnancy tests and get different answers?

If you have received different answers on multiple pregnancy tests, it is recommended that you get a blood test done to get an accurate answer.

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