Home pregnancy tests work by looking for a pregnancy hormone in your urine. Called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), it is produced from the moment a fertilised egg implants into your womb.
The levels of this hormone in your urine fluctuate so it’s always worth taking more than one test. Most packs contain two.
When should I take a pregnancy test?
Modern pregnancy tests are very accurate, though some are more sensitive than others and a few claim to work even before your first period is due. Check the back of the pack for the test’s sensitivity. If it has one of 20 mIU/ml, it will be more sensitive than one with 50 mIU/ml.
An accurate reading should be possible from the first day your period is due. Some tests may work earlier than this because they can already detect low levels of hCG in your urine, but they are not always as accurate.
Doing the test when you wake up may be best as hormone levels can become concentrated overnight. If you drink lots before taking the test, the result could be skewed as your urine is diluted. But generally, any time of day is fine.
Don’t know when your period’s due?
If you have irregular periods or have been on the pill and don’t know when your natural period is due, it can be difficult to work out when to test. Allow the longest cycle that you’ve had recently as a marker and if you get a negative result, test again in a few days.
How do I take a pregnancy test?
Tests come with easy-to-follow instructions but generally involve peeing on a stick or dipping a sensor into a cup of your urine.
Follow the individual instructions and check you know how the results will be displayed. These can be as different colour lines, or as digital words that give you your answer.
It takes anything from one to five minutes to give you the result, but it can feel like hours.
Is a pregnancy test always correct?
If it’s positive, you’re almost certainly pregnant. Doctors have been known to take the results of a home pregnancy test as read, without feeling the need to do a blood test. If it’s negative, as well as meaning you’re not pregnancy it could be because your homone levels haven’t been picked up yet so it’s always worth doing a follow up test in a few days time.
Once you’ve got your confirmation, find out what to do next.