How Early Can You Test for Pregnancy?
By Halle Tecco
The dreaded two week wait
Are you anxiously awaiting those double lines? That two week wait (2WW) can feel like forever, but it’s important you don’t test too early because you risk getting a false negative or a barely-there positive.
The 2WW refers to the time between ovulation and your period, AKA the time period when sperm can meet an egg and implantation occurs. This can feel like an eternity—filled with stress and anxiety—so we’ve compiled a list of things to do to help you get through it.
Why you have to wait (sorry!)Taking a pregnancy test prematurely means there hasn’t been enough time for implantation to occur. When this process hasn’t been completed, there is no pregnancy hormone (hCG) to test for, and you’ll get a negative result when you could very well be in the process of getting pregnant. It takes time for sperm and egg to meet and for a fertilized egg to make its way to the uterine lining to produce hCG. So, be patient (which is easier said than done) and wait until the appropriate time to test to ensure you’ll get an accurate result.
How pregnancy tests work
Pregnancy tests are designed to detect a hormone called human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). HcG is released into the body when an embryo has been implanted in the uterine wall. So with pregnancy tests like ours, you just have to pee on the absorbent tip for about five seconds, wait five minutes, and then read your results! More detailed instructions can be found here. We also offer early-result pregnancy test strips for a more eco-friendly testing option, which use 81% less plastic than midstream tests.
How early you can take a pregnancy test
Most early-result pregnancy tests will be up to 99% effective when taken three days before your expected period, but with our test, you can even test up to five days before. If you do get a negative test result, don’t let it get you down! HcG levels typically double in a matter of days, and it’s still possible that you may be pregnant. We recommend waiting a few more days and testing again to be sure, especially if you’ve missed your period.
What day to test and positive-result likelihoodFor the best results you should test on the day of your expected period. The likelihood of an accurate positive result increases as you get closer to the day of your expected period (see the below chart). If you’re too anxious to wait, you can take a test up to five days before, but make sure you’re testing early in the morning and that your urine isn’t too diluted.
False-negative resultsA negative result means the test did not detect hCG in your urine. A false-negative result (when the pregnancy test is negative, but you’re actually pregnant) can happen for two reasons.
- Your urine was too diluted (don’t drink a lot of liquid for a few hours before testing)
- It’s too early to detect a pregnancy. If you tested before your expected period, this could be the case (see What day should I test?). If you feel you’re pregnant, test again in a few days. hCG levels soar in early pregnancy—doubling every 48 hours. If you miss your period and still get a negative result, see your doctor.
It’s really rare, but if after five minutes you see no lines or only a test line (T), the test either wasn’t saturated with enough urine—or it’s defective or expired (check the wrapper). Throw it out and try again with a new one.