The joy of getting to know that you are pregnant when you had been trying to conceive for a while or the stress you go through when an unplanned pregnancy is about to come your way, both these scenarios have its own share of emotions, and for an impatient woman, the time that she has to wait to know whether she is pregnant or not can be killing.
Pregnancy test kits, especially the ones that can be used by a woman at home, are a stress reliever for many, as they get an almost confirmed pregnancy information through these home pregnancy test kits. However, there are certain attributes and features that you need to be aware of, in order to understand when and how accurately a pregnancy test result can be relied upon.
How do home pregnancy test kits work?
Going by what you would have heard, the ideal time to test for a pregnancy is four to five days after you have missed your periods. But, yes, this can be tricky, especially if you have irregular periods.
After conception, and after the fertilized egg has been implanted, the placenta begins to form and grow. This is when a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is produced. The pregnancy test kits look for the presence of this hormone to confirm whether you are pregnant or not.
Ideal time to use a pregnancy test kit
For optimal results, it is medically recommended that you should wait at least one day post your missed periods. However, this might not ascertain pregnancy, as the amount of HCG at this point of time could be negligible and go unnoticed by the pregnancy test kit.
You are most likely to get an accurate result if you conduct the urine test using the home pregnancy kit after a minimum of 7 to 10 days of your missed periods. Ensure that the test kit has not expired.
What if you see a negative result on the pregnancy test kit and yet have missed a period
There could be several causes for a missed period, however, if you have been sexually active over the past one month, the chances of the reason behind your missed period is likely to be you being pregnant. However, there have been several cases of false positives and false negatives using the home pregnancy test kits. Therefore, relying on them 100 percent is not advisable.
If you happen to see a positive result on the pregnancy kit after your missed period, you should immediately get it confirmed by your doctor as well, who might ask you to undergo a blood test to confirm your pregnancy.
Consulting a doctor soon is also important as when found pregnant, you will be put on folic acid supplements. In case you see a negative result on the home pregnancy kit, and yet have not had your periods for more than ten days after your normal cycle date, then you might have tested too sooner and will need to wait a few more days before you test again.
Sometimes, people also see faint positive lines, which indicate that you might be pregnant. In such cases, you can wait a couple of days and test again to confirm your pregnancy.
How soon after sex can you take a pregnancy test?
How soon you can take a test depends on the amount of HCG present in your body. The pregnancy test kits used at home are designed in a way such that it can detect the presence of HCG only after it has reached a certain level.
However, blood tests at a pathological center can give you earlier results in case you are too impatient, but even for this, you are advised to wait till you have missed your periods.
The standard time frame to be able to test using an over-the-counter home pregnancy test kit is around 10 to 15 days after you have had unprotected sex. The quality of detecting the hormone HCG varies across the different brands of test kits available these days.
However, it is known that HCG is produced in sufficient amounts not before two weeks post ovulation and conception. If you have a 28-day cycle, then you are most likely to ovulate on the 14th day.
However, this varies based on the regularity of your monthly cycles. You might not get an accurate pregnancy result if you test before the 10th day after having unprotected intercourse.
Predicting when you have exactly conceived will be quite a difficult task, unless you are a medical practitioner. With the sperm having the capability to live in the human body for up to five days, it can get difficult to identify when exactly you conceived.
Intercourse several days before or after ovulation can also lead to pregnancy (where conception might happen several days after the unprotected intercourse act), but the test results may not show up until the fertilized egg has been implanted and you begin to produce enough HCG.