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When To Take A Pregnancy Test

As an experienced gynaecologist in London, I am often asked how long after ovulation can you test for pregnancy or when to take a pregnancy test. The answer to these questions varies as there are no two individuals who are alike. There are many early signs of pregnancy, the most common being missed periods. Also, while there is a wide range of home pregnancy test available, you need to note that these may/may not always provide accurate results.

Thus, if you want to learn more about how early can you test for pregnancy or what are the symptoms of early pregnancy. Or what is a false positive or a false negative on a pregnancy test? Or when is the best time to do a pregnancy test, then here is an in-depth article that’ll answer all your queries.

Take a look!

A] Early Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

1. Missed Period: One of the major signs of early pregnancy is missed menstrual period. For those who experience irregular menstrual cycle, this may not be a cause for alarm. However, to the question as to when to take a pregnancy test, this early symptom signals a need for an early pregnancy test.

2. Spotting and Cramping: If you are pregnant, then 6 to 12 days after the fertilization of the egg you may experience mild cramping and spotting. Here, you’d notice that the bleeding (spotting) is much lighter compared to your regular period. As such, if this is the case, then using an early detection pregnancy test can help you verify the same.

3. Nausea: Experiencing nausea or morning sickness during early pregnancy is common. For most women, nausea or vomiting is severe especially, during the first trimester. However, this would consequently lessen during the second trimester.

4. Tender or Sore Breasts: During early pregnancy, due to hormonal changes, one may also experience sore or tender breasts. Additionally, you’d notice that the area around the areola (nipple) is grown larger and the colour appears darker.

5. Backache and Headaches: Experiencing mild to severe headaches & backaches is common, due to the changes in the hormonal level. While the headaches may be fleeting, the back pain, on the other hand, may be experienced throughout the pregnancy.

6. Mood Swings: A common occurrence during pregnancy, mood swings are caused due to high levels of Estrogen and Progesterone production. One can go from being happy to depress abruptly, which can lead to anxiety, stress or irritability.

7. Fatigue and Dizziness: Due to a rise in the progesterone level, you may experience fatigue or exhaustion during early pregnancy. Whereas, dizziness can be a result of low glucose or blood pressure level.

8. Bloating and Constipation: Hormonal changes can affect your digestive system making it sluggish, leading to bloating or constipation.

9. Frequent Urination : Experiencing frequent urination or accidental leaking is also quite common during pregnancy. However, if there is any burning sensation on urination, then its best to contact your gynaecologist in order to rule out condition such as urinary tract infection.

10. Food Cravings or Aversions: Another sign of pregnancy is aversion or sensitivity to certain foods or smells or cravings for certain foods.

Further Reading: Why Should You Have An Early Reassurance Scan

B] Can You Get a False Negative on a Pregnancy Test?

Yes, you can. A false negative is when you are pregnant, however, it may come up as negative when testing. Those using a pregnancy test at home can get a false negative if;

  • The pregnancy test is done too early, i.e. before the fertilized egg starts producing the hormone hCG ( Human chorionic gonadotropin) which helps detect pregnancy. This is one of the major reasons a pregnancy test could be negative.
  • There is a low amount of hCG hormone in your urine. This occurs when you drink a lot of water prior to taking the test, which dilutes your urine leading to a false negative.
  • The pregnancy test checker you are using is not sensitive enough to pick early signs of pregnancy.
  • You delay testing the urine sample immediately after collecting. Another reason for malfunction is if the test is stored improperly. Or, if the instruction on the home pregnancy test is not followed as directed.

C] Can You Get a False Positive on a Pregnancy Test?

A false positive pregnancy test implies that you are pregnant when that might not be the case in reality. After making use of a pregnancy test checker, if the pregnancy test is positive, then its best to get in touch with a gynaecologist to confirm the result. The causes for a false positive on a pregnancy test could be;

  • Chemical Pregnancy : Chemical pregnancy is when a pregnancy is lost shortly after implantation. Here, you might get a false positive when using an at-home pregnancy test due to the presence of the hCG hormone. However, while the test might not be wrong in detecting hCG, more often than not, this type of pregnancy leads to miscarriage which is quite common.
  • Letting your pregnancy test sit for too long before checking the result.
  • Fertility Treatments : If you are undergoing fertility treatments and use a test soon after the fertility injection (that contains hCG) is administered you may get a false positive.
  • Perimenopause : Women undergoing Perimenopause can also get a false positive when testing, as they have a high level of hCG circulating in their system.
  • A recent miscarriage or termination of pregnancy is another reason for a false positive. This is because after miscarriage or abortion the process of hCG levels receding from your system is slow. (the hormone takes up to 6 weeks to gradually diminish from the body.)

D] When is the Best Time to Take a Pregnancy Test?

Best Time to Take a Pregnancy Test

The best time to do a pregnancy test is a couple of days after you have missed your period. As mentioned above, missed menstrual period is one of the early signs of pregnancy.

Thus, if you want to avoid a false negative or a false positive on a pregnancy test, then this would be an ideal time.

Before taking a pregnancy test it is best to read the instructions on how do pregnancy tests work. This will ensure that there are no errors. However, note that the pregnancy test accuracy can differ depending on various factors.

Thus, to confirm whether or not you are pregnant, it is best to schedule an appointment with a gynaecologist.


When talking about how early can you take a pregnancy test, it clearly differs from person to person and their individual health. There is a lot of factors that play a vital role in determining a pregnancy. Plus, in many cases, an early pregnancy test checker may not be accurate in spite of its 99% accuracy claim.

For this reason, it is best to consult with a professional gynaecologist, especially if you have experienced recurrent miscarriage. More importantly, if you are pregnant, a gynaecologist would be able to provide you with the required early pregnancy care. This will ensure that any issues are effectively dealt with.

Further Reading: Early Pregnancy FAQs

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Neha Goel

Neha Goel, a Psychology alumna and MBA graduate from CASS Business School, London, brings together her expertise as a Reiki Practitioner and Practice Manager. She integrates psychology and business strategies to foster holistic well-being and personal development.