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Pregnancy Tests: When to Take Them and Accuracy

We’ve come a long way since the first recorded pregnancy tests were conducted by the ancient Egyptians. Although we still rely on some of the same materials as they did in 1350 BCE, namely urine samples, our technological advancements have increased the speed and accuracy with which we obtain pregnancy test results. Today we have the ease of home pregnancy tests –hand-held technology designed to detect a special pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), sooner than ever before. 

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

Over-the-counter (OTC) pregnancy tests work by recognizing small amounts of hCG in your urine. hCG is a pregnancy hormone that your body begins producing after a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining. This pregnancy hormone can be detected in the blood or urine of a pregnant woman, however, urine tests are preferred since they’re less invasive, more affordable, and easily accessible. The New York Times wrote an article assessing 26 different OTC pregnancy tests to help you determine the best one for you based on your needs and budget.

Most home pregnancy tests are midstream urine tests that require you to insert the collection tip of the testing device into your urine stream while peeing, traditionally known as the “pee-on-a-stick” tests. Some testing kits also suggest you collect urine in a cup and dip the test tip into it. It’s important to note that research has shown the midstream tests to be more accurate than the dip tests. A positive home pregnancy urine test coupled with a missed period means you’re pregnant. A negative urine test typically means you’re not.

When Should I Test?

It’s recommended you test no sooner than the first day of your missed menstrual cycle. With each passing day of early pregnancy, the amount of hCG in your body increases. If you test too early and hCG isn’t detected yet, it can provide a false-negative pregnancy test result. A false positive, also known as a chemical pregnancy, happens when trace amounts of hCG are detected in your urine but no pregnancy develops or you miscarry shortly after. Tracking your cycle can be tricky if you have irregular periods, but generally speaking, you should be able to estimate your expected start date by counting 28 days from the first day of your last period. For example – if your period started on January 7th, count 28 days from that first day (not from when your period ended) and you can expect your next period sometime around February 3rd. There are also many free period tracker apps to utilize if you’re not a fan of the “old-school” way.

It’s also recommended that you take a urine test with your first pee of the day or pee from a full bladder. Diluted samples can affect test results. Read the instructions carefully and set a timer according to the directions as tests left unattended can provide inaccurate readings.


There are two main types of pregnancy tests available; urine and blood tests. Because of the affordability, accuracy, and availability of OTC urine tests, most women utilize these to determine if they’re pregnant. Urine pregnancy tests are accurate 99% of the time, meaning –a urine test can detect hCG 99% of the time on the first day of your missed period. 

Blood tests are better at detecting trace amounts of hCG in your bloodstream. If you’ve received a positive result from a urine test and it’s very early, your doctor may order a blood test to confirm that you’re not experiencing a chemical pregnancy. Doctors may also order a blood test to check the levels of hCG in your system as higher levels may indicate you’re carrying multiples. 

Benefits of Home Pregnancy Tests

There are many benefits to having access to OTC pregnancy tests: 

  • Privacy - This test can be conducted in the privacy of your bathroom without the help of a medical professional. 
  • Accuracy - A positive result of an OTC pregnancy test on the first day of your missed period is accurate 99% of the time.
  • Availability - You can purchase a home pregnancy test at your local pharmacy, drugstore, grocery store, and some convenience or dollar stores. Free pregnancy tests are offered at healthcare centers and community organizations.
  • Quick Results - Results are provided after only a few minutes. 
  • Affordability - The majority of OTC pregnancy tests cost less than $15 making them much more affordable than a blood test.
  • Ease of Use - Simple instructions are included with each home pregnancy test kit.

What Should I Do If The Results Are Positive?

If you’ve received a positive pregnancy test result coupled with a missed period, congratulations, it’s safe to say you’re pregnant. You should begin focusing on prenatal care and adopting a healthy lifestyle. 

  • Start taking a prenatal vitamin - Our Total Prenatal + DHA vitamins provide 100% of the daily values for pregnant women and are specially formulated with the nutrients that both mama and baby need. If you’re not big into taking pills, our Total Prenatal Gummies contain the same vital ingredients. 
  • Set up an appointment with your gynecologist (OB/GYN) - And the earlier the better. Prenatal care is essential to a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy.
  • Embrace a healthy lifestyle - Cut out alcohol, cigarettes, and other unhealthy habits as soon as you discover you’re pregnant. The early weeks are the most critical when it comes to the health of a developing baby. 

Getting a quick and accurate pregnancy test result is vital. If you’re unsure of what comes next, we suggest you check out:

Early Signs of Pregnancy and When to Test

Ways Your Body Changes During Pregnancy

What a Good Prenatal Should Have

Working While Pregnant: Knowing Your Rights