It used to be that the only way you could tell you were having a baby was by missing a period and picking up on any of the more obvious symptoms during the early pregnancy stages such as nausea, tender breasts and feeling extremely tired.
Now, with pregnancy tests readily available and easy to use at home, it is possible to know even earlier. The only problem is having the patience to wait until the right time to do the test. So when is that? Here is a short guide to home testing…
How does a home pregnancy test work?
Head to the toilet, open the box, take out the stick and pee on the indicated end (or dip into a beaker if easier). Wait a few minutes and it should let you know if you are pregnant or not. The test works by detecting the presence of the pregnancy hormone hCG (Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) which begins to be produced when a fertilised egg implants in your uterus. It is often recommended that you take the test first thing in the morning when any hCG will be more concentrated.
When should I take a pregnancy test?
The pregnancy hormone hCG can usually be detected in your urine from about six to 14 days after fertilisation. The very earliest you can test is seven days past ovulation although only a very small number of women will get a positive test at this stage, especially as it is based on being spot on with the timings of your cycle.
Most women can get a positive test between nine and 11 days after ovulating which is the “five days before your period due” window that a lot of tests recommend going by.
However, some women still don't show and the best early pregnancy test time is 12 to 14 days past ovulation – in other words, just before you expect your period. By then, the egg should be firmly established and producing the necessary hormones to turn the test positive.
How accurate is a home pregnancy test?
A very early test is less likely to be accurate, especially as it can be difficult to know exactly when you are ovulating. It can take sperm five days to travel and fertilise an egg and once this happens, the egg has to travel the rest of the way down the fallopian tube before implanting in the uterus lining. Implantation usually occurs five to seven days after ovulation. Once this has happened, the hormone levels have to rise enough to be detected on a test. Taking all these factors into account, a negative result in an early test is not necessarily accurate and it is worth waiting until you are certain you have missed your period and are more likely to be in the early pregnancy stages before testing again. However, if an early pregnancy test does show positive, it is pretty certain that you are indeed expecting.