You want to have a baby. You’ve timed your ovulation, gotten busy on all of the best days for conception, and held your legs up in the air until your feet tingled with numbness. And now you wait until the moment you can break out that pregnancy test stick and find out if you are going to be growing a little one for the next nine months. But you might be wondering, “How soon after conception sex can I take a pregnancy test?” Everyone knows the timing of a pregnancy test is a big deal, but what's the secret of the timing?
Experts say the magic number for when you can take a pregnancy test is between 10 and 14 days after conception sex, assuming you're having sex on an ovulation day. “A standard home urine test is accurate 14 days post ovulation,” Dr. Sheeva Talebian, co-founder of Truly-MD.com and director of third party reproduction at the New York branch of The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine tells Romper in an email interview. “Some are more sensitive and can be used as early as 10 days post ovulation.”
What that means, says Dr. Aaron Styer, the medical director of The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Boston, is that typically conception will occur within a narrow, 24-hour window following ovulation. This is when sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg in the fallopian tube. The fertilized egg — or embryo — implants in the uterus seven to 10 days after ovulation and begins to grow, releasing the pregnancy hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). "This hormone can be detected with a blood test or urine home test kit," Styer tells Romper in an email interview. "The blood test is most sensitive and can detect hCG in the early stages of pregnancy when hCG is low (approximately 10 to 12 days after ovulation)."
But the standard at-home urine test is less sensitive than the blood test and can not accurately detect hCG until hormone levels become higher as the pregnancy grows, Styer adds. "It is best to wait approximately 12 to 14 days after ovulation for the most accurate results. If the urine test is checked too early, it may not detect hCG and it may be falsely negative." Knowing when a pregnancy test can work and how soon to take a pregnancy test can keep you from feeling heartbroken after a potentially false negative result.
Not sure when you ovulated? How quickly can you take a pregnancy test? "The best way to prevent a false negative is to check a pregnancy test on the day of your expected [period]," Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper. "Some over-the-counter kits say they can be taken 10 days after conception, but blood tests may be the most accurate if done on this day."
Of course, if you take the initial test and get a negative result, but then still don't get your period, then Styer says you should recheck your results with another test.
Dr. Renjie Chang, OB-GYN and founder of NeuEve, a women's health startup, agrees, telling Romper that "if you are pregnant, then your body's hCG should double every day, and soon the test should be positive."
To help get more accurate results, you should try taking your pregnancy test in the morning when your urine is less diluted, according to Parents. Other things to look for include checking the expiration date on your pregnancy tests. If you've been trying to conceive for a bit of time, then you might have a few tests on hand that are expired. Be sure to also follow the package instructions. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to follow each step to ensure accuracy, like waiting the recommended amount of time before checking your results.
But if you take the at-home test and still don't get a positive result — or your period — then it might be time to visit your healthcare provider to find out what is going on with your body.
It's true that trying to conceive can be the toughest waiting game you'll ever partake in, but there's also another thing you can bet on — it's pretty flipping worth it.
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