One of the most important things to know if you are confused about when you should take a home pregnancy test is that you are more likely to get a negative result if it’s done too early.
How Does a Pregnancy Test Work?
Before going further, it will be helpful for you to understand how a pregnancy test works in order to know when to take one.
Pregnancy tests are made to detect human chorionic gonadotropin or the hCG hormone in the urine or blood. This is a pregnancy hormone that’s produced once a fertilized egg is attached to the uterus wall, usually starting around six days after the egg fertilization.
The hCG levels will continue to increase rapidly if you are pregnant, doubling every two to three days.
It is important to mention that there are some tests that are able to detect hyperglycosylated hCG or H-hCG, a variation of the hCG hormone.
The regular hCG is only produced after an embryo is implanted in the endometrium, while H-hCG is released earlier at some point right after fertilization.
When Should You Take a Home Pregnancy Test
You can get the most accurate result if you wait at least one week after missing your period. In addition, the result might be even more accurate if the test is done first in the morning as the urine is far more concentrated at this time. The urine-based home pregnancy tests offer about 97% accuracy.
This accuracy will depend on several factors such as how early the test is taken, if the instructions were followed closely, when ovulation occurred in the cycle, how early implantation takes place, and how sensitive the test is.
It is always best to take a pregnancy test after a late period to avoid false positive or false negative results.
If you have irregular cycles or you are not charting your cycles, it might best to take the test after passing the longest menstrual cycle.
For example, if your cycles are in the range of 30 to 36 days, it would be best to take the test at around 37 days after your last period or later.
Another thing to know is that you should not take the pregnancy test if you are using some fertility medication. An early test can detect the remnants of the medication .
How Soon After Sex Can You Take a Pregnancy Test?
Many women take a pregnancy test right after they have sex. This is actually a huge mistake because, as mentioned above, the levels of hCG in the body can be detected several days after the fertilized egg has been implanted in the uterus.
By taking the pregnancy test too early, it can result in a false-negative result and make you believe that you’re not pregnant.
So when is the right time to take a pregnancy test after having unprotected sex? According to experts, you can take the test 10 to 14 days after having intercourse since, during this time, the hCG levels in your body are already high enough to be detected.
Many home pregnancy test kits will include this fact in their instructions to ensure that users will get accurate results.
However, this 10-to-14 day time frame is only the minimum. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s advisable to wait for a longer time before you take a home pregnancy test.
Many experts recommend that you take the test 21 days after having unprotected sex for more accurate results .
This might seem like a long time to wait, particularly if you’re eager to get pregnant and want to know if you’ve conceived ASAP. But it’s important to note that conception doesn’t always happen right after you have sex.
Remember: sperm can live inside your body for up to five days, which means that fertilization can take place up to five days after you had intercourse. So, if you have sex a few days before ovulation, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when you conceived.
If the actual conception happened a few days after you had sex, but you decide to take a pregnancy test exactly 10 days after your intercourse, your body might not yet have produced enough hCG levels for the test to detect.
This might mean that you’ll get a negative result — even though fertilization did happen and your egg has implanted (or is about to implant) in your uterus.
So, to get accurate results, it’s best to wait for three weeks after having intercourse before you use a pregnancy test kit.
This is also the reason why you shouldn’t hesitate to take another pregnancy test even if you’ve already taken one.
If you get a negative result but genuinely believe that you are pregnant, take another pregnancy test around a week after you took the initial test.
By this time, fertilization and implantation might have already taken place, which means that the hCG levels are high enough for you to get an accurate reading.
If you get a negative pregnancy test few days after positive urine pregnancy test, you may have experienced a phenomenon called Chemical Pregnancy that accounts of 50-75% of all miscarriages. 
If you can’t wait for three weeks, you can visit your doctor and ask for a blood pregnancy test.
This test detects pregnancy earlier than urine-based home pregnancy tests since hCG appears earlier in the mother’s blood than in her urine.
You can take the blood pregnancy test at least eight days after you had unprotected sex  although, just like with home pregnancy tests, you can get more accurate results if you wait a few days longer after having intercourse.
Blood tests can detect pregnancies earlier than urine test because these tests can detect hCG levels as low as 1 mIU/mL, while urine test strips have published detection thresholds of 10 mIU/mL to 100 mIU/mL, depending on the brand. 
How Should You Take a Home Pregnancy Test?
Now that you have an idea as to when you should take a home pregnancy test, you need to know how to use it.
The home pregnancy tests are easy and quick to use. Once the instructions are followed carefully you will get accurate results.
They are all made to work in the same way. You’d use one of these ways to test your urine:
- Collect some urine inside a cup and then use a dropper to place it in another container.
- Collect some urine inside a cup and dip the pregnancy test stick in it.
- Hold the pregnancy test stick under your urine stream.
For all of these techniques, you’ll have to wait several minutes to see the results. The results can show as a color, line or symbol. Some digital tests will say not pregnant or pregnant.
What is The Meaning of the Pregnancy Test Results?
When you do the test and the result is positive, this means you are pregnant. Bear in mind that this will be the case, regardless of the faintness of the color, line or sign.
It would be a good idea to contact your doctor in order to know what will come next if you get a positive result.
A negative result will mean that you are not pregnant. Nevertheless, you could still be pregnant in cases where the test is taken incorrectly, the test stick is expired, the test is done too soon, you are using certain medications like antihistamines or diuretics, and large amounts of liquid is consumed immediately before the test (which dilutes the urine).
You could try retesting about one week after getting a negative result to get a more solid confirmation. There are some home-based pregnancy tests that will suggest this no matter the results.
Although this only happens in rare cases, a pregnancy test can give a false-positive. This means the test is saying you are pregnant, but you are not.
You could get this result if your urine contains protein or blood and if you are using certain drugs such as anti-convulsants or tranquilizers.
When you are ready to take a home pregnancy test, you can buy it without a prescription at the drugstore, or online on Amazon.
Be sure to contact your doctor if you have questions pertaining to the pregnancy test or results.
- Chemical pregnancy facts: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/chemical-pregnancy
- Waddell, Rebecca Smith (2006). “FertilityPlus.org”. Home Pregnancy Test hCG Levels and FAQ. Archived from the original on 2006-06-15. Retrieved 2006-06-17.
Hi Dr. I saw my last period on the 23 of September and I had sex on the 9 of October took postinor 2 on the 10 of October I really don’t know if I was on my ovulation period, I had a pregnancy test on the 17 of October cause I was feeling as if there was something inside my stomach it shows negative I feel it was too early cause I never knew the best time to check it. Is like my stomach is changing shape. Please I wanna know if am pregnant and when is my next period going to come in October
Tests can sometimes show false negatives, it depends on their sensitivity and the period you did the test, you should try it again on the first day of your missed period. Period cycle is ussualy 28 days, but it can varie from 25 to 35 days depending on the woman.
Hello, I last saw my period on the 12 of last month. I had unprotected sex. I went for pregnancy text twice and it came out negative
Hi Ejiro, it’s quite possible you tested too early whenever you tested. However you could still be pregnant. I would recommend a visit with your doctor if you don’t get your period soon.
Hello, I had unprotected sex on 27th June after my period ended on 20th June. Is there a possibility of being pregnant and we are in the month of July 24th and I have not had my period.
Hi Precious, that would have been during your fertile period that you had sex, so if you have’t seen your period I would recommend a pregnancy test. Good Luck!
Hi. I had sex on May 30 and I had my cycle May 14. My cycle was short. I had sex before my cycle as well. I took two tests early. But I feel my body being different. I have an ovarian cyst. So could I still be pregnant?
Hi Queen, could you, yes. Your fertile period however was not during the 30th but from May 24th through 28th. You would be really early trying a pregnancy test before now. your period, based on a 28 day cycle would be the 11th of June (tomorrow). If you don’t get your period within the week then I would test.
hi i am fanceena i had my periods on 19th of may to 21st may its 28 days cycle and my next fertility period is from 29th may to 2nd june so when could the best chance of conception or becoming pregnant be??
Hi Fanceena, it would have been during your fertile period from the 29th to the 2nd. Your fertile period is the timeframe in which you have the chance of getting pregnant. Using the same fertility calculator after your next period, if you are looking to get pregnant have sex during your fertile period.
Hii. My gf last period start on 21 april. Her cycle is max 26 days. Now it’s a 25 may but period not start we take test but it show negative so she is pregnant now or not ? Reply fast i am worrying about it.
Hello Tejash, if her period hasn’t started in 7 days then retake a pregnancy test.
Hello, I had sex on April 20th and I took a home pregnancy test on April 30th. It came back negative does that mean I’m not pregnant?
Hi Jasmine. That does not meant that you aren’t pregnant. It all depends on your ovulation period. When testing for pregnancy with a HPT you’ll want to wait until you miss your period before testing. Ideally you should wait until at least 5 days after your missed period just to be sure.
I had my period on the 3rd of April to 6th of April..had a spotting on the 8th and I had unprotected sex on the 8th and 12th of April….my cycle is irregular…..is it possible that I’m pregnant? I don’t have any symptoms though
Hi Mira, if your cycle is irregular it’s hard to tell when you ovulated and when you should ideally test. I would say if you have’t gotten your period at this point to take a test.
My last period was 12/23/18 I had I haven’t seen my period yet I took a pregnancy test 5days ago but it came negative could I still be pregnant
Hi there Amber, retake a pregnancy test 7 days after your missed period with your first urine of the day.
Hello my boyfriend and I participated in sexual activities (November 19th) 3 days before my period (November 22nd) I have a regular cycle of 28 days and I got my period on time.(December 18th) lasting for 6 days it was brown and red the whole time which is unusual normal it’s brown at first then red but I’ve taken 10 pregnancy tests these past 5 weeks I took two yesterday (37 days after sex) and it read negative. I have been extremely worried that I may be pregnant but all of the tests I’ve taken have been negative. Should I still worry?
Hi there Brandi, if your next cycle is delayed then take a pregnancy test again to determine if you are pregnant.
I have irregular period, my periods are 30-35 days apart, I had sex every other day from November 19th-29, and I took a test December 7th, and it said negative, I still haven’t got my period. I took a blood test November 23rd, but said not pregnant, I still haven’t gotten my period, but my lower back hurts a bit, and I feel nauseous. Could I still be pregnant even though it said negative?
Hello Mandie, yes, you could be pregnant yet still the test returns a negative result because your pregnancy is not yet detectable. Wait 7 days after your missed period and re-test for pregnancy.
I had sex on october 26 (ovulation day) as per my application, my cycles start during the first week of each month. But first 3 days are not heavy its usually spotting, then the rest is heavy n spotting again. I am desperate to know if i am pregnant. I did one & came back negative, i know its to soon, any advice?
Hello Olivia, if you have missed your next cycle, take a pregnancy test 7 days after.
Hello my last period was July 18th, I’ve always had irregular periods. My breasts are fuller and sore but I keep having cramps, mostly in my back like my period is coming and then it goes away. How strong is the possibility of me being pregnant?
Hi Jane, I would take a pregnancy test. With irregular periods, it’s hard to determine when you ovulated. Its possible that you are having either PMS or pregnancy symptoms and those symptoms that you describe tend to go either way.
Hi my period was on the 27 of July and my cycle is 27 days. I had sex on the 8 and 13 of August. will there be any chance of pregnancy
Hi Kate, the 8th would have been during your fertile period. If you haven’t gotten your period at this point I would take a pregnancy test.
hi, my last period was the 15th of July, I have had unprotected sex quite a few times after this. average cycle is 28-30 days
when would be the best time to take a home pregnancy test as no period?
what is the possibility of me being pregnant?
Hi Courtney, if you haven’t gotten your period yet now would be an ideal time.
hi my last period was 30th of june and my average cycle is 28-33 days.i had unprotected sex on 7th of july and 12 of july that is withdrawal what is the possibility?
Hi Diane, the possibility could be very likely that you are pregnant. At this point you would be nearly 3-4 weeks late so have you taken a pregnancy test? If not I would recommend that.