When to Take a Pregnancy Test for Accurate Results 99

When can you take a pregnancy test? How early will a pregnancy test be accurate? Do you need to wait for a missed period? These are all common questions relating to when to take a pregnancy test and for good reason. It’s not like knowing if you are or aren’t pregnant is some trivial detail—a baby is a big deal, a life-changing, forever deal.

when to take a pregnancy test for accurate resultsSo, how do you know when to take a pregnancy test?

While many urine pregnancy tests boast they can predict pregnancy 6 days before a missed period, this is arguably inaccurate.

On average, you can get a positive pregnancy test, albeit often faint and with an early result test, 2 days after implantation. Now, implantation can occur 6 to 12 days after ovulation, but in most cases, it’s 8 to 10 days.

So, let’s assume a few scenarios with a 28-day cycle placing ovulation and sex at mid-cycle or cycle day (CD) 14.

Fastest timeline: (DPO 8) (which is quite rare) implantation occurs on CD 20, a test would likely be faintly positive on CD 22 or 6 days before a missed period.

More likely timeline (DPO 12): implantation occurs on CD 24, a test would likely be faintly positive on CD 26, or 2 days before a missed period.

But at the slow end of the spectrum (DPO 14), implantation occurs on CD 26, a positive is possible on the day of a missed period.

Remember, these examples would change with cycle length. For instance, on a 26-day cycle with ovulation at mid-cycle (CD 13) typical 10-day implantation lands on CD 26, so a test wouldn’t likely be positive until 2 days after a missed period. With a longer cycle, such as 30 days with CD 15 ovulation, implantation at CD 25, a positive test would be likely at CD 27 or 3 days before a missed period.

You can use this formula to determine when to take a pregnancy test at the earliest, add about 2 more days for a safer bet:

# Cycle Days/2 + 12
Ovulation Date+12

Keep in mind that the sensitivity of the test you use and the time it takes for implantation can vary greatly, and pregnancy tests can be expensive. Early testing can also lead to concerns over false positives (or negatives).

Looking at pregnancy test data:

To support this, over at Fertility Friend, they did a survey of 93,184 charts where women were tracking their periods, ovulation, and/or temperatures and found the following statistics:

pregnancy test statistics when to take a pregnancy test

17 percent of women received a false negative as a result of testing too early, but an impressive 40.7 percent test too early overall with most testing 10 days past ovulation (DPO) or roughly 4 days before a missed period. The average DPO for a positive pregnancy test is 13.6 days, a whooping half a day before a missed period for most ladies. As you can see from the chart above, even a few days make a huge difference.

This data also correlates with a 2014 retroactive look at pregnancy test accuracy studies published in the National Library of Medicine from 1960 to 2013. hCG levels were found not to exceed 10 mIU/ml (the commonly suggested sensitivity of many home tests) until 10 to 12 days after ovulation or 2 to 4 days before a missed period. Further, the study also found that the majority of home tests were not actually able to detect levels this low, and when they were, home-users often misread the tests (squinters). 25 mIU/ml was a more common sensitivity level. A level not reached until 12 to 14 days after ovulation (around the time of a missed period.) The suggestion based on this data was that a test should not be taken earlier than 4 days before a missed period.

Given all of this, the day of your missed period is a fairly safe bet, but about 4 days after is more ideal, as 100 percent of women who were indeed pregnant got a positive test at that point over at Fertility Friend and data on hCG rises in pregnancy against test sensitivity would support a highly accurate result as well.

All that being said, when to take a pregnancy test, what’s the answer?

For the most accurate results, aim for 4 days after a missed period or 16 to 19 days after ovulation. Do not test any earlier than 4 days before a missed period or 10 DPO.

You may also find helpful:
Calculating Your Chances of Pregnancy
False Pregnancy Test Results: How Common Are They?
Missed Period, Negative Test: What Gives?
Early Signs of Pregnancy Quiz
Period While Pregnant

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99 thoughts on “When to Take a Pregnancy Test for Accurate Results

  • AMY

    HI I had my period on the 16th of May (31 day cycle) experience some mild cramping and pinkish spotting on the 25th of May which I thought was ovulation spotting that I never had b4 lasted like 4 days and thEn I started experienceing pregnancy symptoms took a test today and it was negative can I still b pregnant from having sex on the 30th

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Possibly, but you’re close enough to accurate range for a pregnancy test it’s less likely. If the symptoms were pregnancy related, the test would also be accurate (though you can have PMS before a pregnancy). If you want to test again, wait at least 48 hours.

  • sarah

    i had unprotected sex (for a few moments before a condom was put on) on may 27th (the last day of my last period) and two times (no condom, only withdrawal) on june 3rd and took an aftera e.c. pill twelve hours later. i have a 24 day cycle and estimate that i ovulated around the 10th, the 3rd of june being day 15 in my cycle. my breasts have been tender and swollen for the last week and i’ve had slight cramping, but these could be possible side effects of the pill. i’m due for my period on the 13th and took a pregnancy test this morning that came back negative. was that test taken too soon? or is the “21st day progesterone” concept a myth entirely, even with my cycle length and ovulation date?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      For pregnancy to occur the intercourse has to be within 5 days of ovulation. It sounds like that’s unlikely here with all acts if the latest was on the 3rd and you likely ovulated on the 10th, and yes, EC will cause pregnancy-like symptoms and often causes irregular bleeding. I have not heard or the “21st day progesterone” so I can’t speak to it’s accuracy, but if you test was taken 10 days after the intercourse and 3 after ovulation, yes, it’s possible that it was too early. Based on ovulation it definitely would be, based on intercourse, possibly, waiting 14+ days is best.

  • Juan

    Hey so my girlfriend took the first Response pregnancy test. And it was negative but I’m still worried.
    Her last period was on may 2nd and her ovualion was on the 18th her cycle is 30days. We had unprocected Sex on the 20th and I pulled out. After 7hours she took the plan b pill . Then we were messing around and I sorta penetrated her vagina but no Sex This occurred at may 26. Her period is due tomrrow June 2nd but she feels like she’s having ppregnacy symptoms. She took the test yesterday and it was negative but I feel like it was to soon. The First response test kit saids it can be used before 5 days before period. So should she take another test a week from now ? Need advice thank you

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      You won’t have pregnancy symptoms before a missed period, and the intercourse timing here sounds unlikely for pregnancy, but yes, sometimes a test taken before a missed period gives a false negative.

  • Star

    Hi .. so I had unprotected sex on April 30th I think a week before or 2 I had my period.. I don’t really keep track of them but i don’t know if my bf was really inside me … after everything was done I asked him if he was inside. he said yea I think so my …. is wet but i don’t know. I didn’t really feel him inside but I felt a little pressure but i don’t know so can I be pregnant? And when is it good to take a test ?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Anytime there’s sex there’s a chance of pregnancy. Since you aren’t tracking your cycles, it’s hard to say how high of a chance though. A pregnancy test would be accurate 14+ days from the intercourse.

  • Tie

    Ok so I’m confused i had sex on 4/13 took a test on 4/23 it was negative i had sex again (with a different partner) on then 26th i took a test today and it’s positive i last had my period around 4/4 it trying figure out when i conceived

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      How long is your cycle average? Cut it in half, start counting days from 4/4, that’s your likely conception date. For example, if you run a 28-day cycle, 14 days from 4/4 is 4/20, partner one is the likely dad in that case as you can’t get pregnant from sex more than 48 hours after ovulation. If you have an irregular cycle or don’t track it, I’m afraid you might not get any insight until you have a dating ultrasound (you can ask for one, the earlier it’s done the more accurate it will be). Either way I would still have a paternity test done (start with the more likely father), that’s not the sort of thing you want to guess at, it’s going to change one of these fellows lives forever. Congrats!

  • morgan

    hi my period was due the 23rd of april 2018 its the 26th and I’ve had a positive first response and negative clear blue. my breasts are really sore and I feel nauseous with upset stomach and extra tired

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Since you have two tests with different results, I’d retest in a few days. A digital may eliminate the chance of misreading a result. 🙂

  • Aarti

    I had my period on 9th March and my cycle is of 25 days.
    Did a urine pregnancy test last evening, came out negative. Still see no sign of periods (cramps, breakouts, bloated feeling) that I usually do.
    How long should I wait before taking another test?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I assume you were due the 3rd? So the test was the day after your period was due? I would wait until about 4 days late or the 7th. A good general rule though is to never take a second test within 48 hours of the first as hCG should double every 48 hours.

  • Ashwini

    Hi…3.5 yrs for trying a baby . 1 cyst removed .also cleared pcos ovary . over weight .- 75 kg my last period was on 12 MAR 2018 and my cycle usually varies from 26 days to 28 days. ovulation kit shown positive at 23rd MARCH I have all the menstrual symptoms like mild cramping, tiredness, stomach upset , headache . . 31 mar 2018 – negative beta hcg <.01 miu and HPT also negative..when is the safe test

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If your test was positive March 23rd, you ovulated 24-48 hours after that and should wait at least 14 days from ovulation to test, so around April 8th. The 31st was likely way too early. While on occasion someone manages a positive test 8 days after ovulation, 8 days after a positive OPK isn’t really possible.

  • Aswathy

    Hi… my last period was on 31 Jan 2018 and my cycle usually varies from 28 days to 32 days. No idea when I ovulated and my hubby and I have been ttc and had regular sex whole through the cycle. I am on CD 33 today and no AF till now. I have all the pretty menstrual symptoms like mild cramping . When is the safe time to check for pregnancy?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If your longest cycle range is 32, I would wait until cycle day 36 if you’re patient enough 🙂 A test now would be fairly accurate, but there’s still a very small chance you’d get a false negative.

  • Lawrencia

    My last period was on 26th-27th of January 2018. I always have period for 3 days. Had sex on my ovulation says that’s on the 4th feb and 8th Feb 2018. Have done 3 test first one was negative but second faint line and the third a little darker faint line again. Am I probably pregnant

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Any line on a pregnancy test is considered positive, if your line is darkening that’s a good sign it’s also not a false positive. It does indeed sound like you’re pregnant.


    My boyfriend and i had sex the night of December 30. We got too heated and he ejaculated inside me, as well as some cum outside my vagina. I wiped off the outside but either way, he ejaculated inside. This happened one day before my expected period with the use of the Pink Daily app. We went to a CVS Pharmacy after it happened to purchase the Plan B pill right away. Do you think I can be pregnant?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Sex just before a period has the lowest chance of pregnancy all cycle. With plan B use too, you’re likely in the clear.

  • Anna Ardis

    I had me last period on 11/7. My cycles are on average 26 day. I should have start on 12/3.i am very regular. I did have very light bleeding 11/21-11/23.it wasnt enough to fill a pad in a day.I havent start yet but ive been achey and i was a little quiesy off and on yesterday. I took a hpt this morning but it was negative. Was wondering if it was implantaion bleeding and i just tested too early. Or if it was my period just early but it was def lighter than normal.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It only takes about 48 hours to get a positive test after implantation, so my guess here is either a bit of hormonal spotting or early, light period.

  • Sazza

    Been trying to conceive since sept (not log I know) but I have endometriosis. Doctor said getting pregnant could help. So we took his advice. Yesterday 23rd Nov, I took HPT and got a very faint second line, my period due 24th Nov (I average 23 day cycles) got another faint line this morning little clearer than yesterday. When would we get a clearer fuller line? And when would I have ovulated?
    Thanks in advance

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I wouldn’t recommend a baby just for endometriosis, but yes, a pregnancy can help (if you likewise want a baby, hah). hCG levels (the hormone pregnancy tests detect) generally double every 48 hours or so in a healthy pregnancy, so your line should progressively darken each day, but you’ll definitely see a darker line within 48 hours. If you had your first positive on the 23rd, you conceived no later than the 15th, probably between the 11-13th sometime. Congrats! Many ladies with endo. have trouble conceiving, you got very lucky with a first month success.