Q:

When is the right time to take a pregnancy test?

A:

Quick Answer

If a woman thinks that she could be pregnant, the general consensus is to take a pregnancy test about a week after her missed period. Any earlier than that could result in a false negative.

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Full Answer

What Types of Pregnancy Tests Are There and How do They Work?

There are two types of tests that look for the pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin. This hormone can be identified in the urine or blood once pregnancy has been established. A woman can purchase an over-the-counter home pregnancy test from most pharmacies and grocery stores and carry the test out at home, which allows for privacy. Alternatively, a urine test can be carried out at a doctor's surgery. There are two types of blood tests available that must be undertaken at the doctor's office. They are qualitative and quantitative human chorionic gonadotropin tests. The former tests for the presence of the pregnancy hormone while the latter tests for the quantity of it. Blood tests tend to be more accurate than urine tests, which have an accuracy rating of 99 percent. The pregnancy hormone can be picked up easier first thing in the morning when the urine is more concentrated.

Signs It Might be Time to Take a Pregnancy Test
A missed period is the first sign that would prompt a woman to take a pregnancy test. Of course, this requires having a regular menstrual cycle and knowing one's body. Some women can mistake spotting or light bleeding for a period when it could in fact be implantation bleeding, a common sign of pregnancy, that occurs about 10 days after fertilization. Mild cramping could be an early sign of pregnancy and indicate it is time to take a pregnancy test; however, it may also be mistaken for a regular period. Feeling nauseous, going off certain foods or having sudden cravings may indicate pregnancy. Any changes in the breasts should be noted, such as tenderness and an increase in size. While these may also be symptoms associated with a menstrual period, a woman is experiencing breast discomfort along with any of the aforementioned possible signs of pregnancy may want to take a pregnancy test.

Breaking Down the Results: What do They Mean?
A positive result indicates that one is pregnant, no matter how faint the line is on the test. Very rarely, a home pregnancy test may indicate a false-positive result, even when not pregnant. Certain medications or the presence of blood or protein in the urine can be to blame. A negative result is usually fairly accurate except where the test has gone out of date or if it wasn't taken properly. Taking the test at the wrong time of day when the urine is not concentrated enough or even before a period is missed can also produce a negative result. Sometimes medications can interfere with the outcome of a pregnancy test. It is generally advised to take another test about a week later, especially if one's menstrual period has still not arrived. A doctor can carry out a more sensitive test to indicate pregnancy if a negative result keeps showing up on a home test.

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