When to take a pregnancy test
By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Fertility Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility
The two-week wait between ovulation and your period can seem like an entire life time. Time ticks by agonizingly slowly as you count down each day as it passes. Feeling both anxiety and excitement you desperately hope that this month you'll get a positive pregnancy result.
As you get closer to your period due date, you start to Google early pregnancy symptoms and convince yourself that you’re experiencing at least half of those listed; dizziness, nausea, tender breasts, headaches, tiredness... you name it. At the same time though, there’s that little voice in your head telling you not to get your hopes up encase it doesn’t happen this month.
With your mind constantly thinking about whether you're pregnant or not and finding it hard to focus on anything else, you consider taking an early pregnancy test. Those ones that say they can detect pregnancy six days before your missed period, which actually means five days before your period is due. It’s a hard decision to make. On the one hand, if it’s positive, you can relax and start celebrating, but on the other hand, if it’s negative, you know you’ll be sad, disappointed and no doubt in need of a little bit of comfort. This might come in the form of a large glass of wine or latte you’ve so desperately missed having since being as good as gold whilst trying to conceive.
BEST TIME OF THE MONTH
So, when’s best to take a pregnancy test? It can be hard to resist, but personally I think it’s best to wait until the missed date of your period or if you can hold out any longer, a few days after. This is because home pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. This hormone is produced after implantation, when the fertilised egg attaches to the uterus wall lining, which happens about 6-12 days after ovulation. The levels start off low and then rapidly rise.
Waiting until a few days after your missed period date allows more time for hCG to build up to levels that can be detected in your urine by a home pregnancy test, especially if you've ovulated or implanted late in your cycle. It can also help prevent needless disappointment, whilst save you a few extra pennies too.
Bear in mind that for some women, a positive home pregnancy test takes a week or more to show up. It's important to remember every woman is different and pregnancy tests vary in their sensitivity. If you've missed your period and think you might be pregnant but are getting a negative result on your pregnancy test, wait a few days, then test again.
BEST TIME OF THE DAY
The best time of day to take the test is first thing in the morning, when your urine is most concentrated and so has the highest levels of hCG. If you haven’t taken one before or if you're using a new brand, make sure you read the instructions before use, as misuse can affect their accuracy. Basically though, it involves peeing on a test stick (usually for five seconds), which then after a few minutes shows a visual result for whether you’re pregnant or not. You can also confirm pregnancy with a blood test or ultrasound scan.
A little tip is to have a pair of scissors to hand next to your test. When you get up in the morning you might be dying to pee. Trying to rip open a test can be more difficult than it sounds, especially when you're feeling slightly anxious. Using a pair of scissors makes it so much easier.
YOU KNOW YOUR BODY BEST
At the end of the day, there’s no one who knows your body better than you do, so you must take the pregnancy test when you feel is right for you. Remember though, even if you’re not pregnant this month, the healthy decisions you’ve been making won’t go to waste. They can help to optimise your fertility for the following month when you can try again. You will no doubt dread having to go through the monthly turmoil again, but keep in mind what Theodore Roosevelt said: “Nothing worth having comes easy”.