Am I pregnant? That’s a question that often plays on the mind when you’re trying hard for a baby. There’s a heightened feeling of excitement and anxiety during the two-week wait time (the time between ovulation and your expected period). If you are super excited and just can’t wait to learn if there’s going to be a baby in the near future, you could even end up taking a pregnancy test. However, you must know that taking up the test prematurely can show a negative result, even if you are actually pregnant. In this post, we take a look at how pregnancy tests work, when to do pregnancy test and signs of pregnancy to watch out for.

How Pregnancy Tests Work

Pregnancy tests are DIY tests that can be done in the comfort of your home without the need for a prescription. Pregnancy test kits are usually available at any grocery or drugstore. They work by detecting the presence of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine. hCG is usually produced about 6 –10 days after conception, but your body takes a few more days to begin excreting the hormone in the urine.

To do a home pregnancy test, you need to place a few drops of urine onto the kit. You can also pee directly on to the test stick if you like. The urine will be filtered through a special paper inside the kit. This paper is treated with chemicals and will change color indicating the results. You will need to read the instructions on the test kit to confirm your pregnancy.

Home pregnancy kits are not created the same. Some kits display 2 dark lines to indicate pregnancy while others display a dark circle or a plus sign. Again, some tests are very sensitive and indicate positive results when detecting even a low amount of hCG in the urine, while others show a positive only when there are more levels of hCG.

If your test comes out positive, you can set up an appointment with your doctor, who will perform more sensitive tests to confirm the results. If your test turns out negative, don’t worry. You may have taken the test too early. Wait for a few days and try again.

When To Do Pregnancy Test?

So when should I take a pregnancy test?

The answer to that question is usually to wait until the first day you expect your period (about two weeks after you ovulate). The best results are obtained on the first urine of the morning as it will have the highest amounts of hCG. The point to remember here is not to drink too much of water to get more urine. You’ll want to avoid peeing in the middle of the night as much as you can.

If you don’t keep track of your menstrual cycle, take the test as far away from the cycle as possible. For example, if your cycle usually lasts between 30-35 days, the best time to take it would be on the 36th day or later. Also, if you are under a fertility treatment, you may be getting a shot of hCG. Avoid taking the test during such times as it may indicate a false positive.

Sometimes, a home pregnancy test may indicate false positives or false negatives. That’s because not everyone’s urine has enough levels of hCG at the time of testing and not all home pregnancy tests are created equal. If you are not too sure about the results, you can do a retest within the week, if you still haven’t got your periods. This is a sound option because your hCG levels usually double every 48 hours.

Apart from urine tests, you can also take blood tests for determining early pregnancy. An ultrasound exam is also a surefire way of confirming a pregnancy and is usually performed around 5 to 6 weeks of gestation.

Pregnancy Symptoms

Sometimes you may not even be anticipating a pregnancy until you see pregnancy symptoms. Although some women don’t experience any signs of pregnancy early on most women do.  A late period and morning sickness are early pregnancy symptoms that you’ll notice right away. Morning sickness usually starts about 6 weeks or so from your last period. It is usually called morning sickness but can happen any time of the day. Fatigue and sore breasts (or highly sensitive breasts) are also signs of pregnancy to watch out for.

Most early signs of pregnancy also include frequent urination. This is because your body is changing and your uterus is growing, putting pressure on your bladder forcing the fluids inside to come out. Other pregnancy symptoms that women experience early include headaches and bloating. Some women even feel a metallic taste in the mouth.

Now that you have an idea of early signs of pregnancy and when to do pregnancy test, carefully consider the best time to do it. If you cannot resist doing it earlier, make sure you are ready to face the results. If you have plenty of money to spend on re-tests, and if you don’t mind seeing negative results, then you can go ahead. But if that’s something that’s going to bother you, take the test as late as possible.