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Pregnancy Testing 101: How Soon After Ovulation Can You Test?

You’ve done it all. You tracked your ovulation. You did the deed within your fertile window. And now you’re counting the days till you can pee on that stick and finally get some answers.

But how long after ovulation can you take a pregnancy test?

Truth? 

It’s best to wait until the first day of your missed period before taking a pregnancy test.

Yes – there are pregnancy tests out there that make some bold claims about testing early.

But if you test too soon, you run the risk of getting a negative result – even if you’re pregnant!

So read on for the lowdown on when to test for pregnancy after ovulation so you can get the most accurate result. 

But first, let’s do a quick refresh on how these tests work. 

How Do Home Pregnancy Tests Work?

To understand how pregnancy tests work, it helps to know the basics of ovulation and implantation.

Ovulation is when an ovary releases a mature egg into the fallopian tube. If you’ve timed things right and had sex within your fertile window, sperm may be there to greet the egg. 

If fertilization happens, the egg makes its way to your uterus, preparing for implantation. 

During implantation, the fertilized egg burrows into your uterine wall, getting ready for the long journey ahead. 

Implantation typically happens around 8-10 days past ovulation (DPO). But it can happen anytime between 6-12 DPO. 

Once an egg implants, your body begins producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone. 

hCG is the hormone pregnancy tests detect in your urine to deliver that beloved big fat positive (BFP). But it takes time for your hCG levels to build enough to give a positive result. 

Since implantation windows vary, it can be tricky to know the right time to test.

How Many Days Post Ovulation Can You Test?

Most pregnancy tests recommend waiting until the first day of your missed period to test. 

This will fall around 14-15 DPO or roughly two weeks after ovulation.

So why the long wait?

Well, by then you’ll have a 99% chance of getting an accurate result, assuming you followed the instructions to the T. 

This is because most tests need hCG levels of 25 mIU/mL to yield a big fat positive.  

After implantation, hCG levels double roughly every two days before peaking around week 10.

 Yet it takes several days for hCG to reach that magic threshold and give you a positive result on your pregnancy test.

If you had a late implantation but tested too early, your hCG may not be high enough to give you a positive result – even if you’re pregnant!

This can put you through a lot of unnecessary heartbreak.

So for the most accurate results, it’s best to wait until around 14-15 DPO to take a pregnancy test.

How Soon Will A Pregnancy Test Read Positive?

It depends on the sensitivity of the test and when implantation occurred. 

Some sensitive tests claim to yield positive results as early as four days before your missed period (or around 10-11 DPO). 

While this may work for some, even with the most sensitive pregnancy tests, there’s still a chance of getting a false-negative result. 

Let’s say your implantation day happened late (like around 12 DPO). You would still get a negative result no matter how sensitive the test is!

So while it’s tempting to take a pregnancy test early, testing on the first day of your missed period is the safest bet. 

How Soon Will a Blood Test Detect Pregnancy?

Blood tests can pick up on hCG sooner than urine tests. In fact, some blood tests can detect hCG as early as 6 to 8 days after ovulation. 

But there are a few downsides to blood testing. The main one is that most doctors won’t perform a blood test until after your period is due.

Plus, with blood tests, you may have to wait a couple of days to get results. That’s why most women opt to take a home pregnancy test instead.

Is it Possible to Get a False Positive?

Yes. 

Pregnancy tests are 99% accurate when used correctly. But it’s still possible to get a false-positive result. 

Here are a few ways false positives can happen:

Chemical pregnancy

This is a very early miscarriage that happens before the 5th week of pregnancy. During a chemical pregnancy, the egg implants briefly but then stops developing. 

Many chemical pregnancies happen so early that women don’t know they were pregnant. Although implantation is short-lived during a chemical pregnancy, it still causes hCG levels to rise. 

So if you get a positive test, followed by a negative result a few days later, you may have had an early miscarriage. 

Ectopic pregnancy

This is when a fertilized egg attaches somewhere outside the uterus (usually in the fallopian tube). 

Ectopic pregnancies can cause abdominal bleeding and can be fatal, so they demand prompt medical attention. So if you experience severe abdominal pain, call your doctor right away.

Fertility drugs

Some fertility drugs include hCG to help stimulate ovulation. If you have an hCG trigger shot and take a pregnancy test soon after, you may get a false positive. 

That’s why it’s important to speak with your doctor if you’re in fertility treatment. They can explain how these meds may skew your pregnancy test results.  

Medical conditions

Believe it or not, certain tumors can increase hCG levels, leading to a false-positive result on your pregnancy test. 

Evaporation lines

A faint line may appear if you let a pregnancy test sit for too long before reading the result. These are known as evaporation lines and can be easily mistaken for a positive pregnancy test. 

LEARN MORE: What is an Evaporation Line on a Pregnancy Test?

So for the most accurate results, it’s crucial you follow the instructions carefully. 

How to Avoid Getting a False Negative Pregnancy Test?

Home pregnancy tests are excellent at detecting pregnancy – when done correctly.

So here are some tips to help you get the most accurate results:

  • Don’t test too early

When you’re trying to conceive, the temptation to test early is strong. But if you test too soon, your hCG may not be high enough to detect, leading to a false-negative result. 

Yes, the two-week wait can feel like a lifetime. But waiting to take a home pregnancy test until your period is due gives you the best chance of getting a positive result. 

  • Test in the morning

Your hCG levels are most concentrated in your first-morning urine. So for the best accuracy, always take a pregnancy test in the morning.

  • Follow the instructions

Read the instructions carefully and be sure to wait the right amount of time to read the results. If you wait too long, you may get an evaporation line and mistake it for a positive pregnancy test.

  • Avoid drinking water before testing

If you drink too much water before testing, it may dilute your hCG levels and throw off your test results. So pee on that stick right when you wake up, and then hydrate. 

  • Other Clues That May Point to Pregnancy…

Getting a positive pregnancy test or an ultrasound is the only way to confirm pregnancy.

That said, there are a couple of other clues that may suggest you’re pregnant:

Early pregnancy symptoms

Some women feel signs of pregnancy even before a missed period.

If you’re one of them, here are some symptoms you may notice:

  • Implantation bleeding: When an egg implants, you might notice some light bleeding or spotting. Implantation bleeding usually happens around 10-14 DPO or a few days before your period is due.
  • Cramping: Implantation can cause abdominal cramps as the egg attaches to your uterine wall. These tend to be milder than menstrual cramps.
  • Tender breasts: Hormonal changes of early pregnancy can cause breast tenderness and swelling. Your nipples may also appear darker.
  • Fatigue: Rising progesterone levels may make you feel sleepy or even flat-out exhausted.
  • Nausea: One of the telltale signs of early pregnancy is nausea and vomiting. Although nicknamed ‘morning sickness’, this symptom can linger the entire day. 
  • Frequent urination: Feel like you’re running to the bathroom non-stop? Your body needs extra fluids to grow a new life, making your kidneys work overtime. 
  • Mood swings: Early pregnancy can take your hormones on a roller-coaster ride, along with your mood. 

Progesterone

Progesterone levels can also offer hints about whether there’s a baby on board. 

After ovulation, progesterone rises to support a possible pregnancy. If an egg isn’t fertilized, your progesterone dips, cueing the start of your period.

LEARN MORE: What Your Progesterone Levels Mean After Ovulation

But if conception is a success, progesterone levels keep rising throughout early pregnancy. 

So a steady progesterone climb may offer peace of mind that a big fat positive is on its way.

Inito is the only fertility monitor that measures LH, estrogen, and progesterone (PdG). 

Plus, you get access to personalized hormone charts in our app, so you know the best time to take a pregnancy test for you. This can be especially helpful for people with unpredictable cycles. 

Takeaways

  • Home pregnancy tests detect the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in your urine. 
  • hCG begins rising after implantation, which typically occurs around 8-10 days after ovulation.
  • The best time to take a pregnancy test is around 14-15 DPO or the first day after you miss your period. 
  • Most home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate when taken the first day of your expected period.
  • Testing too early may result in a false negative, as your hCG may be too low to detect.
  • When to test for pregnancy after ovulation will depend on the sensitivity of the test and when implantation occurred.
  • For the most accurate results, always test with your first-morning urine and follow the instructions carefully.

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