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When is the Right Time to Take a Pregnancy Test?

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Apr 05

When is the Right Time to Take a Pregnancy Test?

Taking a pregnancy test is usually the first thing women of reproductive age do when they have missed their period. It is the most convenient way for them to know if they are pregnant, especially if they’re sexually active. But, aside from a missed period, when is the right time to take a pregnancy test and how does a pregnancy test work?

What is a pregnancy test?

A pregnancy test determines if a woman is pregnant by examining if the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG is present in the urine or blood.

When a woman is pregnant, her body will begin to produce hCG once the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. As the pregnancy progresses, the levels of hCG will continue to rise until the end of the first trimester.

How does a pregnancy test work?

The following are two types of pregnancy tests that can detect the presence of hCG in the body and how to use them:

Urine test

A urine test is an accessible type of pregnancy test that is available over-the-counter. Women can administer a pregnancy urine test at home or the doctor’s clinic.

Urine tests are easy to use and can provide correct results if done correctly. Also, some pregnancy kits are more sensitive than others such and can detect hCG in the urine before a woman misses her period.

There are different brands of pregnancy tests in the market, and here are three ways on how to administer them:

Pregnancy dipstick tests

  • Hold the strip and place it directly to the urine stream for about 7 to 10 seconds. Usually, results show after 1 to 2 minutes, but it will depend on what brand you’re using. After a few minutes, the strip will begin to change color, and it will determine if pregnancy is positive or negative.
  • For dipstick tests that come with a sample cup, collect urine in a cup and dip the test strip into the cup for 7 to 10 seconds and wait for a few minutes until results are ready.
  • Dropper pregnancy tests

    • Dropper pregnancy test kit usually comes with a sample cup, a dropper, and a pregnancy reading strip. To conduct the test, collect urine in the sample cup, then get a little bit of urine sample from the cup using a dropper and put two drops on the reading strip. After that, wait for about 3 to 5 minutes for the results. Normally, the results will either come out as one line for negative and two lines for positive.

    Blood test

    Although a blood test takes longer than a urine test, it is more accurate, and it can also detect small amounts of hCG in the body earlier than a urine test. Women can only undergo a pregnancy blood test in the hospital or the doctor’s clinic.

    There are two types of pregnancy blood test available, namely:

    • Qualitative hCG blood test checks if the pregnancy hormone hCG is present in the blood. Most of the time, a qualitative hCG test is as accurate as a urine test.
    • A quantitative blood test or beta hCG test can measure the level of hCG in the blood, and it can also determine gestational age or how far along the pregnancy is.

    When is the right time to take a pregnancy test?

    A lot of pregnancy test kits available over-the-counter offer accurate results just a day after a missed period, however for more reliable results, it is advisable to take a pregnancy test a week after a missed period.

    But, if you have irregular periods, there are pregnancy test kits available that can provide results by taking it at least two weeks after having sexual intercourse. It might seem like a long time, but the level of hCG in a woman’s body is only detectable at least two weeks after conception.

    If you are using a home pregnancy test kit, it is best to take the test at least two weeks to three weeks after conception to avoid getting false-positive and false-negative results. Although home pregnancy test kits are 97% to 99% accurate, having a blood test is still the best way to confirm a woman’s pregnancy.

    Signs that you should take a pregnancy test

    Here are five symptoms that should alert women to take a pregnancy test:

    Missed period

    Missing a period is often the first and most common pregnancy symptom most women experience before confirming their pregnancy. This symptom is more noticeable when a woman regularly monitors her menstrual cycle every month.

    Take note that aside from pregnancy, missing a period can also result from poor lifestyle, stress, and hormonal imbalances.

    Tender breasts

    Tenderness of the breast results from the hormonal changes brought upon by pregnancy. Usually, pregnant women begin to feel that their breasts are heavier and fuller a week or two after conceiving.

    The tenderness of the breasts will last until the body produces progesterone as the pregnancy progresses. Since the tenderness of the breasts is also a sign of an upcoming period, this symptom often gets overlooked as a sign of pregnancy.

    Mild cramps (implantation cramps)

    Women often experience abdominal cramps when they are on their period. However, mild cramps on the lower abdomen and lower back also indicate pregnancy.

    These mild cramps or implantation cramps occur when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterine lining. Sometimes implantation cramps are also accompanied by implantation bleeding that lasts for about 24 to 48 hours.


    Bloating is a common symptom of premenstrual syndrome or PMS due to hormonal fluctuations during menstruation. But aside from menstruation, bloating is also an early and unpleasant sign of pregnancy.

    Pregnancy hormones relax the digestive system causing digestion to slow down, leading to constipation that causes bloating. Most women endure bloating right from the first trimester up until they give birth.

    You feel pregnant

    For sexually active women, “feeling pregnant” is often an early sign of pregnancy. When we say “feeling pregnant”, it is when a woman starts to feel tired, sleepy, and nauseous more frequently than usual.

    These symptoms might only be an indication that a woman is exhausted from work, but it does not hurt to take a pregnancy test to make sure.

    Key takeaways

    When is the right time to take a pregnancy test and how does a pregnancy test work? Home pregnancy test kits look for the amount of hCG present in a woman’s urine. However, a pregnancy blood test is more accurate. Doctors advise that the best time to do a pregnancy test is after a week or two of missing a period or sexual intercourse.

    Also, keep in mind that after confirming a pregnancy via pregnancy test, it is best to see a doctor right away to make sure that you and your baby are safe and healthy.

    Learn more about Signs and Symptoms, here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

    Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Apr 05

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