If you’re trying for a baby, that monthly wait to see if you’re pregnant can be fraught with anxiety. But when exactly is the best time to take a pregnancy test?
Put to the test
When you want to know if you are pregnant – especially if you’ve been trying for a baby – it can be tempting to take the test as soon as your period is due. But wait! Did you know that you are supposed to wait until at least the day your period is due to arrive before you even consider taking a pregnancy test?
How pregnant tests work
Home pregnancy tests are 99 per cent accurate on the day your period is due, but certainly not before.Some experts maintain that you should actually wait until a full week after it’s due before you take the test.
In order to work out how to use a pregnancy test, it may be a good idea to understand how they work.
Pregnancy tests don’t measure the exact amount of hCG in your urine, they just detect whether a minimum amount is pregnant. If you are pregnant, then your hCG level will be in excess of five mIU/ml; if you’re not pregnant, then you will have less than five mIU/ml of hCG in your urine. If you do get a negative result, it doesn’t mean that your urine doesn’t contain any hCG, it just means it doesn’t contain enough to trigger a positive result.
So when is the best time?
The best time to take a pregnancy test is once your period is actually late. To do this you need to know when your period is actually due, so if you haven’t started keeping a note of your cycle, now is the time to start.
Early result pregnancy tests
These tests, which promise results three or four days before your missed period, are based on your fourteen-day ‘luteal phase’, which is the time between ovulation and when you get your period.
The problem with these tests is that you may have a longer or shorter luteal phase. If your phase is twelve days, then four days before your missed period would be nine days after ovulation and that, naturally, would be much too early to test to see if you are pregnant, so taking a test would be pointless.
If, on the other hand, your luteal phase is fifteen days, then four days before your missed period is twelve days post-ovulation. Again, you may still not have enough hCG at that point to indicate pregnancy, but you’ve got a better chance than someone with a shorter luteal phase.