When and How to Use a Home Pregnancy Test

You pee on a stick and then a few minutes later the answer to one of the biggest questions in a woman’s life appears, seemingly almost by magic, in a small window. It reads either “pregnant” or “not pregnant.”

But how do pregnancy tests work?

Not by magic, of course. There is a researched and exact science behind it all. But, to break it down, when you think you might be pregnant, you want to know when to take a pregnancy test, and how to use it.

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

Those “magical” little sticks many women use at one time or another in their lives are designed to detect the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in urine. hCG is created during pregnancy and can be detected in urine a short time after conception. If the pregnancy test finds the presence of hCG in your urine, you are likely pregnant, and if the test does not detect hCG, then you are likely not pregnant.

How Do You Take a Pregnancy Test?

To take a home pregnancy test, you must get your urine on the absorbent tip of the test stick. This is typically done one of two ways: by placing the tip of the test into your urine stream for five seconds while you urinate, or by peeing into a cup and dipping the tip of the test device into the collected urine for five seconds. Some test have slightly different instructions, but that is the basic procedure for home pregnancy tests.

Pregnancy Test Taking Tips

If you’re wondering when to take a pregnancy test, doctors typically agree that using a test first thing in the morning delivers the best results because urine is the most concentrated at that time.

Some other tips for using a pregnancy test include:

  • Check the expiration date prior to purchasing.
  • Read the instructions carefully, and make sure to follow them, step by step.
  • If you’re testing before a missed period, use your first morning urine for best results. After a missed period, the hCG hormone is usually higher and easier for tests to detect.
  • Use a clock or a timer when taking your test to keep track of proper times.

Where to Buy Pregnancy Tests

You can purchase home pregnancy tests over the counter and without a prescription at most drug stores and supermarkets. You do not need to show an ID or be a certain age to purchase one. There are many different types of tests. Learn more about the types of tests offered by First Response.

What to Do After You Take a Pregnancy Test

If you get a positive result after taking a urine pregnancy test, you should contact your doctor and schedule an appointment.

If your result is negative or inconclusive and you haven’t missed your period yet, give it a few days and test again. If you have missed your period by a week or more and are still getting a negative result, it’s time to call your doctor.

Many things other than pregnancy can delay your period, but you should let your doctor know so that you can get your body back on schedule as soon as possible. It is also possible that you are pregnant, but the hCG hormone levels are not high enough yet for the test to detect.