When to Take a Pregnancy Test for Accurate Results 58

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 to not exceed 10 mIU/ml (the common 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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58 thoughts on “When to Take a Pregnancy Test for Accurate Results

  • Vicky

    Just wondering if anyone could advise when I would have conceived . I got a positive pregnancy test on 1st August 2016 said 2-3 weeks on a clear blue. I hadnt had a period since 13th may 2016 so defo couldn’t go by last period date. My due date isn’t 8th April 2017. I did a test on 25th July and it was negative would it have been too early
    To test then ? Thanks in advance

    • unwirklich admin

      If you count back 38 weeks from your due date (pregnancy is 40 weeks but starts 2 weeks before ovulation/conception) you get July 23, which would have made the test on the 25th too early, my guess would be sometime in the second half of July.

  • Erin Bragg

    We are trying to conceive our second child (we have a 23 month old). My cycles have been 28 days apart since I stopped my birth control 6-7 months ago. We had a pretty stressful time in September due to a job loss, so November and December my cycles went to 25 days, then 27 and this month was back at 28. I started 1/1/17 and bled for my normal 5 days. I started the Clearblue OPK on CD8 (fmu) and got a negative, CD9 (fmu) was another negative. On CD10 OPK went right to peak, along with light cramping that is normal for me during ovulation. We had sex on CD9, CD10 and CD11. On CD17 I felt mild cramping but no spotting which I am guessing could have been implantation cramping. This lasted 2-2.5 days. It wasn’t painful like my normal cramps, just uncomfortable. I have had no spotting or bleeding at all. My period should be due 1/28/17 unless I start early because of early ovulation. Does this sound normal to you or is it unlikely with early ovulation on CD10 that I could be pregnant? I know I just need to wait until this weekend and see if I start but the suspense is getting me! Lol.

    • unwirklich admin

      10 is on the early side, but can be normal for some (it’s more common in folks with short cycles 25-28 days, and it sound like lately you’ve ranged from 25-28). You absolutely can become pregnant with early ovulation. Are you also temping? That can be an easy way to confirm your dates.

      • Bolkem

        Good day sir, please I had my period for 3 days from Dec 31 to Janu 2 and my CD was 28, I notice sore and swollen breast with temperature but I did not see any white egg mucus during my ovulation, on my CD 17 sore nipple stopped and remain swollen and temperature till now, with loud noisy stomach, I carry out HPT this morning which was CD 25 and was negative, can I still be pregnant

  • Ais

    Here’s my case…
    It is my third pack of BC pills already and I consistently take it. I might miss but only for a few hours. Hence, perhaps my cycle’s 28 now.

    I had contact on CD12 with no back up or emergency contraception aside from the BC pills. Yesterday and today I experienced light spotting and bearable cramps. I am starting to worry because I aced the preggy symptoms. Next week, I am expecting my period.

    My question is: Is it possible to get pregnant as in my case?
    Thanks a lot!

    • unwirklich admin

      With proper pill use your chances are about 1%, day 12 is possibly a fertile time for you, or within range of one as far as sperm survival.

  • cythia

    Hi,my circle is 26 and I had unprotected sex on the 6day after my period I had symptoms for 4weeks and vanished, and tested positive and another time negative .am confused Pls help me

  • Anonymous

    I got period like bleeding two days before the due date. I have a regular 30 day cycle. Bleeding is red, heavier than spotting but much lighter than my usual periods, lasted for only three days. Can it be implantation bleeding. My LMP is 5 Nov 2016

    • unwirklich admin

      This sounds too heavy to be implantation, but could still be break through bleeding (a result of low early pregnancy hormone levels). Of course, it could also just be a light period. If you still suspect pregnancy, I would test about 4 days after your period was due.

  • Casandra

    My cycle is every 26days and I had brown spotting with mucous on cd 16, cd19, and the day of my expected period only when I wipe. I was due for Af on 11/24/16 and it never showed. I had unprotected sex on cd13 only. Took a hpt on 11/23 and 11/25 bth was negative. Not sure what’s going on; however, my period is always on time and I don’t have any indication that it’s coming… Period for the last past months (9/7/16, 10/3/16, 10/29/16 and 11/24/16)…

    • unwirklich admin

      I would give it a few more days, a week if you want to be certain, and re-test if your period hasn’t showed. If it’s negative and you don’t get your next cycle either, see your care provider.

  • Tara wells

    Hi, my cycle is on average 26 days, my period lasts on average 6 days. I’m normally regular. I was with my Boyfriend both 7/24-7/25, ovulation was (according to my period app) on 7/28. 3 days after unprotected sex, (normally we use withdrawal method, but didn’t this time. We have been together nearly 14 years and thus far have never conceived) My period was expected 8/11-16 today is 8-17 and no period. On 8/7 I had cramping and irrability but no normal pms symptoms tender breasts, which I always have about a week prior to my period. I’ve been moody and have slight cramping in abdomen but not normal period cramps, or bowl cramps. Althought I have had gas since 8/11 and On 08/13 I felt nauseous then it passed then shortly later I felt so ill I nearly threw up in my parked car. Any way fast forward to today 8/17 which would be my 7th CD but it is actually now my 33CD (normally 26). I used a first response test this morning first thing. Followed instructions to the P. Came up with a negative. So I went about my day and now I’m scantly spotting a brownish red only when I wipe. Sorry about the TMI but I’m just a bit confused about what’s going on. I have one test left I plan on waiting to test in week or when my app shows my next ovulation day 8/23 now I wish I bought the 8 pack not the 2 pack of tests…… This is just making me a big stress ball! With these dates and time frame could I be pregnant and the test just isn’t showing yet? Thanks so much.

    • unwirklich admin

      You should have been in accurate range for a test. My bet here is that you ovulated late or didn’t ovulate at all, and that’s what delayed your period (unless there was sex beyond the dates given). If there were other acts, it’s still possible you’re pregnant and just tested to early. I think you have the right idea with giving it a week, then retesting.

  • Timothy Nicole De jesus

    Hi I had sec with my boyfriend on the day may period is already 1 week late. its already been 2 weeks. Am i Pregnant? We used a condom but my period still isnt here

    • unwirklich admin

      Unless you had sex prior to that act, the delay in your period couldn’t be from pregnancy. It is possible that you didn’t get a period because you hadn’t ovulated yet though, in which case if you ovulated within 5 days of the sex, you could become pregnant. I would suggest waiting 2 weeks from the date of intercourse. If you haven’t had a period, take a pregnancy test.

  • Kaydee

    As I posted a couple of weeks ago, my period came a week early. But I’m still cramping and my back and hips are a little sore. Plus when I wipe sometimes, there’s a very tiny speck of blood. My boobs still feel a lil heavy. I bought a pregnancy test from the dollop tree Friday and the test came back negative. Should I wait a little longer to a the 2nd test?

  • Ivy

    Hello. I’m 31 no kids. My last period was June 18. Right now I’m late,my stomach cramped and felt like my period had came,I wiped yesterday and there was literally a needle tip of red. So this am I woke up cramp again,no cycle just a brownish discharge . What could this be?

    • unwirklich admin

      It could be the beginning of a period (in which case the bleeding will likely pick up) or it could be implantation bleeding. I would give it about a week. If the bleeding picks up, it was a period, if it doesn’t, take a pregnancy test.

  • JC mo

    Enter your comment here…I had a sex with my bf a day my period stop without condom but I saw my period this month , is there any chance of me being pregnant?

  • Natalie Shoesmith

    Hi all. I had my last period on the 15.05.16. My cycles are very irregular as i’ve got fibroids and more recently, ive got a haemorrhagic cyst. Anyways, my hubby and i bd’d all through my ovulation window. Fast forward to june 10th and my period came again. This time, it very light, darker in colour and i had no cramping whatsoever. My concern is ive been experiencing nausea, back pain, swollen breasts and mood swings ever since and today ive had light cramping on and off for an hour or so. Ive taken a urine test which was negative so im waiting to see what happens. I just wanted an idea of whether there is a very slim chance that i could be pg? Your advice, please.

    • unwirklich admin

      Fibroids can make conceiving really hard, particularly if they are bad enough to cause consistent irregularity. They can also cause spotting that may resemble a period, which makes things even harder. I recommend basal body temping, as that can help confirm ovulation and at least try to find an average ovulation point in your cycles. I’m not saying you can’t be pregnant, but honestly, with a negative test, bleeding, and a history of fibroids, it’s unlikely. You might even consider speaking with a specialist. Fibroids can be treated.

  • Tay

    Hello, I have a question. My period is due Tuesday June 7 and I took a pregnancy test on Wednesday June 1 and it came up a faint postive. So today which is Friday June 3, I took another one and its still faint. So my question is could I still be pregnant or no? And if so when should I start seeing my pregnancy line get darker or does that not mean anything? Also I have taken all of the tests with first morning urine

    • unwirklich admin

      hCG should double about every 48 hours in early pregnancy, so hypothetically your lines should darken within 48 hours, but some tests are more sensitive than others and 4 days before a missed period is very early. I have to wonder if you aren’t seeing evap lines rather than faint positives. I’d wait until the 7th and retest, by then your lines would certainly be darker if June 1st was your first positive.

  • desperate

    Sex on day April 11th (pull out method)
    Last period days were april 5-11
    Next period due May 8th, “started” May 20th

    Could this be implantation bleeding and is it too early for anything

    • unwirklich admin

      If you had sex on the last day of your period with the pullout method it is very, very unlikely you are pregnant, but the April 11th to May 20th is also a long time, a lot longer than implantation takes. This sounds like just a late period.

  • Taylor

    What if I tested the day after my missed period, got a negative, but my luteal phase is only 11 days long. And I probably ovulated on the 14th. What are the chances the negative at this point in my cycle, roughly about 12 days past ovulation, is correct?

    • unwirklich admin

      If your luteal is usually 11 days, then you tested one day late technically, which hypothetically leaves about a 25% chance of a false negative. If you consider it timing wise, even if fertilization took place on your day of ovulation, you’d have 6-12 days for implantation so DPO 6-12 + 2 days for hormone build up, a positive test would be possible DPO 8 to 14 making 12 a fairly safe bet for accuracy, but not a sure thing. 🙂