How Many Days After Sex Can You Take a Pregnancy Test?

white pregnancy test showing 1 red line

The best time to take a pregnancy test depends on your menstrual cycle and when you last had unprotected sex. Pregnancy tests detect traces of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), the hormone produced by a fertilized egg.

If you have a regular 28-day menstrual cycle, experts typically recommend waiting 12-15 days after ovulation to take a standard pregnancy test. However, early-detection tests can be used much sooner.

How Long After Sex Can You Take a Pregnancy Test?

When you suspect you might be pregnant, it’s tempting to take a test as soon as possible. But, if you want the most precise results, wait at least one day after your expected period or the first day of your missed period for a home pregnancy test. This is because, according to Alan Copperman, MD, the medical director at Progyny, the earlier you take a pregnancy test, the less accurate the results will be. The reason is that it takes time for your body to produce enough of the pregnancy hormone hCG to show up on a home pregnancy test.

The exact date you can take a pregnancy test depends on several factors, such as when you engaged in unprotected sex and the type of test you choose. For instance, a blood test can detect hCG as early as six days after conception, but it’s more accurate if you wait two weeks or more.

It’s also important to know your regular menstrual cycle so you can pinpoint the date when you’re most likely to ovulate and, therefore, have the best chance of getting a positive result. You can also try using an app that tracks your cycle or consult with a healthcare professional to learn more about how your hormone levels fluctuate throughout the month. Additionally, certain medications and health conditions can affect your hormone levels, so it’s essential to talk to your doctor before taking any pregnancy tests – This section is a result of the portal editorial team’s work

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Blood Tests

A blood test can be performed at a lab or in your doctor’s office. A needle will be inserted into your arm or hand to draw a sample of blood, which will then be sent to a lab where it will be tested for pregnancy hormones. This type of test is more accurate than a urine test and can detect pregnancy hormones even before your missed period. However, they’re also more expensive and can take longer to receive the results.

The best time to take a blood test is around the date you think you’re likely to get your next period. However, it’s hard to know when that will be because each woman has a different menstrual cycle. Women with a 28-day menstrual cycle typically ovulate on day 14. But the exact date varies from one person to the next.

Blood tests are more accurate than urine tests because they detect hCG, a pregnancy hormone, at a much earlier stage in the process. However, your body doesn’t produce enough hCG to be detected by the test until at least 10 days after sperm successfully implanted an egg, explains OB-GYN Mary Jane Minkin.

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If you’re considering a blood test, be sure to follow the instructions that come with your specific kit. And remember that the sooner you take a test, the less accurate it will be.

Urine Tests

Pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of human chorionic gonadotrophin, or hCG, in your body. Most home pregnancy tests can detect hCG in your urine within two weeks after conception, and blood tests can pick it up even sooner.

For most women with a regular 28-day menstrual cycle, the best time to take a pregnancy test is 12-15 days after you ovulate. However, if your period is irregular, you may want to test earlier. (Check the instructions on your specific test for more information.)

Generally, it’s better to take a urine pregnancy test first thing in the morning because that’s when your urine is most concentrated, Dr. Hardy says. But you can also take a pregnancy test at any point in the day, as long as the results are accurate.

If you do plan to use a urine test, remember that certain medications and medical conditions can affect your results, so be sure to check with your doctor before taking one. You should also make sure you’re collecting a urine sample from the middle of your stream rather than the beginning or end, as this is more likely to give you an accurate result. Also, keep in mind that the color of your urine can be affected by what you eat. Some foods, like beets and blackberries, can turn your urine red, which can confuse the test’s results.

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Other Tests

If you’re trying to conceive, the wait for an at-home pregnancy test result can feel like forever. That’s why it’s important to understand how long after sex you can take a pregnancy test, what factors may affect the results, and when it is best to take one.

Pregnancy tests detect the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, which increases in the urine after fertilization. While some very sensitive tests can be used even before you miss your period, it’s generally safest to wait until the day after you’d expect your next period, or at least 21 days after your last unprotected sex.

That’s because pregnancy doesn’t actually begin the day you have sex, Minkin says. It takes a few days for the sperm and egg to join, form a fertilized embryo, and implant itself in the uterus. And then you’ll probably start getting a period, or at least some blood spotting.

For most people, a missed period is the earliest sign of pregnancy, but there are other symptoms, too, including nausea, headaches, and breast tenderness. It’s important to know that it’s possible to get a false negative on a pregnancy test, and that can be distressing. If you’re worried, you should see a doctor to discuss your options. If you don’t have insurance, Planned Parenthood and community clinics often provide low-cost pregnancy testing.

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