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How Early Can You Test for Pregnancy?

When you are playing the waiting game, the answer to "Am I pregnant or not?" can't come soon enough. With impatient anticipation, many women find themselves asking what is a pregnancy test, how does it work and when can I take one?

If you are dying to know, and rightfully so, here are some answers to your most common questions:

What is It?

A pregnancy test is a method used to determine if you are pregnant or not. There are two types of pregnancy tests – a blood test and urine test. Blood tests can detect pregnancy earlier than at-home urine pregnancy tests, according to WebMD, but getting results takes longer and they must be administered at a doctor's office. Urine tests can be done quickly at home, in a doctor's office or anywhere else you can use the toilet.

How Does It Work?

To become pregnant, your egg must be fertilized by a sperm cell, usually in a fallopian tube. Days after, the egg travels into your uterus and attaches (implants) to the wall lining. Then the placenta starts to develop and begins releasing the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which then enters your bloodstream and urine, according to the Mayo Clinic. In the early stages of pregnancy, the hCG levels double every few days, making it easier for home pregnancy tests to detect the increase.

When Can I Take One?

A blood test can detect pregnancy six to eight days after ovulation, according to WebMD. But this type of testing isn't as common as an at-home urine pregnancy test. Cost, convenience and privacy are probably the determining factors. In the urine-testing category, the earliest pregnancy test taken at home can detect hCG six days before your missed period, according to FirstResponse.com.

Are They Accurate?

According to WebMD, most at-home pregnancy tests are at least 97 percent accurate (some tests, such as First Response's, even claim to be 99 percent accurate). Still, you can sometimes get a false-positive test even if you aren't pregnant. This happens if blood or protein is present in your urine, or if you are taking certain drugs, such as hypnotics, anti-consultants or tranquilizers. The same goes for false-negative results, which can be inaccurate if taken too soon, taken the wrong way or if the test is past its expiration date.

Note: If you consume large amounts of fluid right before the test, your urine is like to be too diluted to show signs of hCG. This is why WebMD suggests testing first thing in the morning for the most accurate results.

Other Early-Pregnancy Signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings and stress
  • Spotting
  • Food aversions
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to smells
  • Frequent urination
  • Swollen breasts

While on their own, any of these symptoms might go unnoticed or seem like indicators of menstruation, but when combined — especially with a missed, late or abnormal period — they can be early signs of pregnancy.

 
      Purple Flower
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