Thankfully, pregnancy tests have evolved substantially since the 20thcentury. Women now have access to advanced tests that can detect a pregnancy days before a missed period. The best home pregnancy tests are based on ease of use, ease of reading results, and effectiveness. Many tests today are marketed as simple and effective, but getting accurate results comes down to when the test is taken.


When is the best time?

In a normal pregnancy, an egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and then travels into the uterus, where it implants itself in the uterine wall. A woman’s body begins to produce HCG from cells in the developing placenta soon after implantation of a fertilised egg inside the uterus. Around eight days after ovulation, trace levels of HCG can be detected from an early pregnancy. That means a woman could get positive results several days before she expects her period to start.



The tricky part of timing when to take a test is that the duration of the first half of a menstrual cycle is more variable than the second. Sexual activity around ovulation leads to the possibility of fertilization of the released egg by sperm. But even then, the time frame for a fertilised egg to implant can vary. And HCG isn’t produced until after implantation has occurred.

For the most accurate results, we recommend that women test in the morning on the day they expect their period to start. This allows for variability in the timing of ovulation, fertilization, and implantation. Testing in the morning provides a urine sample that is concentrated.


What can cause tests to be wrong?

Each type of pregnancy test is designed to detect a set minimum level of HCG. Accurate up to six days before a missed period. However, while home pregnancy tests are quite accurate – many boast a 99 percent detection rate based on laboratory testing results – marketing claims can be misleading.

Many home pregnancy tests available today are midstream urine dip tests, which are the traditional “pee-on-a-stick” tests and are fairly easy to use. There also are tests in which a woman pees into a cup and dips a test strip into the urine or uses a tiny dropper to transfer urine from the collection cup into a small cassette.


When a test result is inaccurate, it’s either a false negative (the test says the woman is not pregnant, but she is) or a false positive (the test says she’s pregnant, but she isn’t). Several factors can cause false negative results:

• Having too dilute urine

• Testing too soon

Using a pregnancy test that doesn’t detect lower levels of HCG.


When should I see the doctor?

Most women who have a positive pregnancy test should wait a week or two before calling the Gyn office for a pregnancy blood test. We suggest waiting because the rate of early pregnancy loss is high, and it’s possible that it might have been a chemical pregnancy.



Advances in home pregnancy tests give women greater insight into what’s going on in their bodies sooner than ever before. No matter what a woman’s childbearing plans might be, it’s essential to get quick, accurate results at home so she can plan her next steps accordingly.

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