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How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

Waiting to find out if you’re pregnant can feel like an eternity. Over-the-counter pregnancy tests often tell you to wait until a specific time before testing.

If you recently had your period, this could mean waiting another three weeks to find out. But why? Why can’t pregnancy tests give accurate results sooner?

Keep reading to learn how pregnancy tests work and why waiting might be necessary.

What Do Pregnancy Tests Detect?

Urine and blood pregnancy tests both look for the same hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is typically only present in the body during pregnancy, making it excellent for pregnancy testing.

However, there is a catch. It takes time for the hormone hCG to build up to detectable levels. Your body does not begin to produce it after conception but after implantation (this usually takes about six days). Once a fertilized egg implants in the wall of your uterus, it will trigger the placenta to form.

The placenta releases hCG, which can be found in blood about 11 days after conception. A urine test will take slightly longer to find hCG.

When Can I Take a Pregnancy Test for Accurate Results?

When determining when to take a pregnancy test, follow the instructions on the box. Each one slightly differs in sensitivity and how early they claim to deliver accurate results.

Most pregnancy tests should give you an accurate result after your missed period. This timing means waiting until the day after you expect your period to arrive.

If you have an irregular period, you can count 36 days from your last period or four weeks from when you had sex.

What About Early-Detection Tests?

While it can be tempting to try an early-detection pregnancy test, it’s essential to know that you can receive a false-negative result. This type of result is when you’re pregnant, but the test says you are not because your hCG levels haven’t yet risen enough.

If you receive a negative test, take a follow-up test after you miss your period to be sure of your result.

Where Can I Find a Free-of-Charge Pregnancy Test?

Visit Pathways Clinic in Washougal, Washington, for an accurate and free-of-charge pregnancy test. If positive, we will follow up with an ultrasound to provide critical health and pregnancy information.

Find out for sure. Schedule an appointment at Pathways Clinic today.

Confidence Comes With Choosing Courage Over Fear.