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How soon is too soon to take a pregnancy test?

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Think you might be pregnant? You could be tempted to take a pregnancy test right now. But there’s good reason to test during a specific time in your cycle. So, just how soon is too soon to take a pregnancy test?

When is a good time to take a pregnancy test?

When you should test for pregnancy depends in part on the sensitivity of the pregnancy test you are using — so make sure to read that instruction pamphlet! For example, Clearblue® offers several pregnancy test options, including the Clearblue® Early Detection Pregnancy Test1 and the Clearblue® Early Digital Pregnancy Test2 that can give you a result six days sooner than your missed period.1,2 (More on these tests in a bit.)

Graph about the rise of pregnancy hormone (hCG) in early pregnancy

Home pregnancy tests work by detecting the hormone hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin). Getting a positive pregnancy test result means the level of hCG present in your urine has met or exceeded the sensitivity level for that specific pregnancy test.

Why wait to take a pregnancy test?

When you wait to take a pregnancy test, you’re giving your body more time to produce hCG — the hormone home pregnancy tests detect.

A pregnancy test’s instructions will let you know when in your cycle you should use it, and it’s important to pay close attention to that timing! Early-detection tests, for example, will have different timing guidelines about how long to wait to take them.

If you don’t follow the timing instructions on your test and take it right away, your hCG level could still be very low, which may make it harder to detect.3 Trying to be patient may not be easy, but following your test’s instructions gives you the best chance at getting an accurate test result. And that can mean waiting a while to take it.

How soon after implantation bleeding can I take a pregnancy test?

Implantation bleeding is light spotting or bleeding that may occur when a fertilized egg attaches to your uterine lining, typically 10-14 days after conception.4 It can be difficult to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and spotting or a lighter-than-usual period — generally implantation bleeding will only last one to two days, and will consist of a few drops of blood and/or light pink to brown discharge.

Infographic comparing the signs and symptoms to tell the difference of implantation bleeding and your period

Implantation bleeding can be an early sign of pregnancy and usually happens around the time you’d expect your period.4 If you suspect you may be experiencing it, consider taking a pregnancy test.

How soon after ovulation can you take a pregnancy test?

Several factors, including the type of test you take and the length of your regular menstrual cycle, can affect when you should take a test after ovulation. For instance, those who regularly have a 28-day menstrual cycle can typically take a standard pregnancy test 12-15 days after ovulation.5 Early-detection tests can be taken even sooner.

Understanding your menstrual cycle is key for pinpointing when you’re most likely to ovulate and have a higher chance of getting pregnant. Keep in mind that many women have irregular periods, so it’s possible to miscalculate when you’ll ovulate and when to expect your next period.

How soon after sex can I take a pregnancy test?

Taking a pregnancy test has less to do with how recently you had sex, and more to do with the timing of your cycle. If you had unprotected sex during the most fertile days of your cycle, there’s a chance you could be pregnant, so taking a pregnancy test is a good idea. If you happen to have a 28-day cycle, you can follow the same timing guidelines as we mentioned before: wait 12-15 days after ovulation before taking a pregnancy test5 (though you can take an early-detection test sooner, and you should always check the instructions for the pregnancy test you are using). Otherwise, you can test the day of your missed period.

It can be difficult to identify when you’re most fertile but tracking your cycle is one way to learn more about your fertility and have a good idea of when to expect your next period to start.

How soon can I take an early-detection pregnancy test?

With an early-detection pregnancy test, you can use the test before the first day of your missed period. That’s because these tests are designed to detect lower levels of hCG. Check the instructions for the test you plan to take to see just how soon you can take it.

Clearblue® Early Detection Pregnancy Test and Clearblue® Early Digital Pregnancy Test are able to respectively detect 77% and 78% of pregnancies 6 days before your missed period, or 5 days before your expected period.1,2 The closer to the day your next period is due that you take it, the more time you’ll have had to produce hCG, and the higher the chance of detecting a pregnancy.

If you test early and get a negative result, there’s still a chance you could be pregnant. You may want to retest in a few days or after the first day of your missed period, just in case.

What else should I consider when taking a pregnancy test?

When it comes to pregnancy tests, it’s not just about the day you take it. It’s also about the way you take it. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you plan to take your home pregnancy test:

  • Take your test first thing in the morning. Your first pee of the day is the most concentrated, so hCG may be easier to detect.3
  • Carefully read and follow all instructions. While these tests are designed to be easy to use, keep in mind these common home pregnancy test mistakes to avoid.
  • Check the expiration date. Pregnancy tests do expire, so check the expiration date closely.
  • Try to relax while waiting for your results. If your anxiety is running high, even minutes can feel like forever. Here are 12 fun ways to make waiting for pregnancy test results a little easier.
  • Check in with your doctor. All Clearblue® pregnancy tests are over 99% accurate from the day you expect your period,6 but it’s still a good idea to keep your doctor in the loop. They may ask you to come into the office for an additional in-office pregnancy test just to confirm.

A pregnancy test is a powerful tool to help you find out what’s happening in your body. By using a reliable pregnancy test at the right time, you can confidently learn what the future has in store.

Sources and Disclaimers

  1. Clearblue® Early Detection Pregnancy Test provides early detection of the pregnancy hormone. 77% of pregnant results can be detected 6 days before the missed period (5 days before the expected period).
  2. Clearblue® Early Digital Pregnancy Test provides early detection of the pregnancy hormone. 78% of pregnant results can be detected 6 days before the missed period (5 days before the expected period).
  3. Mayo Clinic. “Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results?” Accessed 08 Sept. 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940
  4. Mayo Clinic. “Is implantation bleeding common in early pregnancy?” Accessed 12 Oct. 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/implantation-bleeding/faq-20058257
  5. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “Pregnancy” Accessed 08 Sept. 2022. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/home-use-tests/pregnancy
  6. >99% accurate at detecting typical hormone levels. Note that hormone levels vary. See insert.