Are you driving yourself a little crazy second-guessing every thing about your body at the moment? We totally get it. The moment you have the thought “could I be pregnant?” is the moment your brain can’t think about anything else. Don’t worry, we’re to help. This is your guide to early pregnancy signs and when to pee on that stick…
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What are some early pregnancy signs?
Early pregnancy signs can totally vary from person to person. Some women will tell you that they knew almost immediately and others will say they were completely caught off guard because they had zero symptoms. So if you’re in the middle somewhere and questioning every little thing going on in your body, here’s a list of things that might indicate you’re pregnant:
- Missed period: We’ll start with the major giveaway sign. A missed period should definitely be ringing some bells to prompt you to go and buy a pregnancy test.
- Breast changes: Throbbing, aching breasts can be a telltale sign as well as larger, more tender nipples.
- Fatigue: Bone-weary, next level exhaustion may be a sign that you have higher levels of progesterone in your body.
- Sickness: Nausea and vomiting, often referred to as morning sickness, can occur at any time of the day.
- Food aversions and cravings: Changes in hormone levels can cause changes in taste and smell preferences, leading to aversions to certain foods and cravings for others.
- Funny taste: A metallic-like taste in your mouth (known as dysguesia) could be a sign that your estrogen levels are rising.
- Mood swings: One minute you’re laughing, the next you’re crying and the next you’re angry as hell.
- Sensitivity to smells: Some women become more sensitive to certain odours or develop strong aversions to smells they once tolerated.
- Bloating and Gas: Hormonal changes can slow down digestion, leading to bloating and increased gas.
- Constipation: Pregnancy hormones can also affect the digestive system, leading to constipation.
- Implantation Bleeding: Some women experience light spotting or bleeding when the fertilised egg attaches to the lining of the uterus.
If you’ve got some of the above early pregnancy signs and wondering whether you should take a pregnancy test, read on to learn when it’s time to pee on that stick.
How soon can I find out if I’m pregnant?
If you’ve got some of the above early pregnancy signs and wondering what to do next, it might be time to think about getting a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests are improving all the time and many brands now advertise that they can detect a pregnancy days before a missed period. However, it’s still the case that for the most accurate and reliable result, the best time to take a pregnancy test is around the time of your expected period or shortly after a missed period. This is usually about 10-14 days after ovulation (assuming a typical 28-day menstrual cycle).
How does a pregnancy test work?
Most home pregnancy tests are designed to detect the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). hCG is only present in the body if you are pregnant as it is produced by the placenta shortly after a fertilised egg attaches to the uterine lining. hCG levels start of very low in early pregnancy and then rapidly rise. This means that tests can’t usually detect a pregnancy immediately after conception but they can usually pick up hCG levels from around two to three weeks after ovulation.
Can a pregnancy test give a false positive result?
Yes, but it’s pretty rare. You might get a false positive result if you’ve had a very early pregnancy loss soon after the fertilised egg attached to the uterine lining. This is sometimes known as a very early miscarriage or chemical pregnancy (a pregnancy that ends shortly after implantation). A very early miscarriage is usually followed by a negative test result or a late period.
Other factors that might also cause a false positive result include using an expired or faulty test. And, very occasionally, an evaporation line may appear on a pregnancy test if it’s read outside of the recommended time frame. To reduce the risk of a false positive make sure to use the test as instructed, check the expiration date and consider taking another test a few days later or contacting your GP if you do get a positive result.
Can a pregnancy test give a false negative?
Yes, it totally can. False negatives are more common than false positive results and can occur for several reasons:
- Testing too early: If you take a pregnancy test too early in your cycle, the levels of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) might not be high enough to be detected. This is why it’s best to wait until after your missed period to take a test for more accurate results.
- Low hCG levels: Some women naturally have lower levels of hCG in their urine and so it might take longer for the levels to reach the detection threshold of the test.
- Improper testing: If you don’t follow the test instructions correctly, the test might not work as intended and give an incorrect result.
- Testing at the wrong time of day: Pregnancy tests are often more accurate when taken in the morning when the urine is more concentrated.
How do I reduce the risk of a false negative result?
A pregnancy test result can literally change your life in an instant so here are some key tips to try and ensure you get it right the first time:
- Wait until after your missed period to take a test (if you can wait that long!).
- Use your first morning urine as this will be typically more concentrated and therefore likely to have higher levels of hCG.
- Check the expiration date on the test.
- Follow the test instructions carefully.
If you’ suspect you might be pregnant ‘and receive a negative test result but still have concerns, contact your GP as they will likely arrange a blood test for you.
How does a blood test show if I’m pregnant?
A blood test is typically more accurate than a home pregnancy test and can also provide information earlier than having to wait until you’ve missed a period. There are two types of blood tests that can confirm pregnancy:
- Quantitative Beta hCG Test: This blood test measures the exact amount of the hCG in your blood. The levels of hCG increase rapidly in early pregnancy. A quantitative beta hCG test can detect pregnancy at a very early stage, often within 7-12 days after conception.
- Qualitative Beta hCG Test: This blood test simply detects the presence of hCG in your blood without measuring the exact amount. It’s a “yes” or “no” test to confirm pregnancy. This test is commonly used in clinical settings to confirm a pregnancy and is also more accurate than urine-based tests.
Keep in mind that while blood tests can be more accurate and detect a pregnancy earlier on, there may still be some waiting to get an appointment with your GP and further waiting to get your results.
Can a pregnancy test detect a pregnancy at one week after conception?
It’s highly unlikely that a pregnancy test will be able to detect a pregnancy at just one week after conception. This is because it generally takes a bit longer for the levels of the hormone hCG to rise to a level that is detectable by most pregnancy tests. However, as discussed above, a blood test can detect hCG around 7 days after you ovulate so contact your GP if you want to try and get a super early result.
If you suspect you may be pregnant or have concerns about a positive pregnancy test, we suggest contacting your GP for further guidance and confirmation.
Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. You should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.