After How Long Can Pregnancy Be Detected?

Although being pregnant is an exciting process, waiting for the pregnancy to take place is not easy. In fact, the waiting process can really try a person’s patience.

You become pregnant when an egg is released and fertilized by a sperm. Nonetheless, it is impossible to tell whether you are pregnant the moment it happens. This is because pregnancy is only detectable after you start secreting human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). This only happens once the egg is attached on the uterus walls. In other words, you can only test positive for a pregnancy once the fertilized egg has implanted into the uterus sending adequate amounts of the HCG hormone into the bloodstream. In general, after how many days of sex can pregnancy be detected? How can you tell if you are pregnant or not?

After How Many Days Can Pregnancy Be Detected?

There are two types of pregnancy tests that will determine whether you should start preparing for a new member of the family or not.

Blood Test

There are two types of blood tests. Quantitative HCG and Qualitative HCG. The good thing about a blood test is that you can take the test within 7 to 12 days of having unprotected sex. This means it is more effective than the urine test. However, the results take longer. This is because your doctor will have to take your blood sample to the laboratory for testing.

While the quantitative test measures the exact amount of HCG hormone in your blood, qualitative detects the presence of the hormone. Generally, if you are pregnant, the blood test results test positive within 3-4 days after implantation, or 9-10 days after fertilization and ovulation.

Urine Test

This is the easiest pregnancy test also known as Home HPT test. With the test, the urine has to come into contact with a special stick. You either dip the stick in a cup of urine or urinate directly onto the stick. After a few minutes, an indicator on the stick will show whether you are pregnant or not. Luckily, this test can be done at home and as soon as you miss your periods.

The downside of using this home test is that it is not always positive. However, manufactures want you to believe its results are always positive even before a missed period while in reality, only 25% of women who use this test positive within the first 2 days before a missed period.

40% test positive the day before the missed period. All in all, on average, most women test positive 13.5 days after ovulation or at the time they expect their monthly periods.

Notes: Even with the above tests, the best time to have a pregnancy test is usually three weeks after you have had unprotected sex or when your periods are late. This is because the results might turn out negative if you test too early even if you are pregnant. For this reason, it is advisable to test a few days for a more correct result.

Are Pregnancy Tests Always Accurate?

Although most of the home tests claim to be 99% accurate on the day you miss your period, a doctor’s test will always be right. Research has also shown that pregnancy tests do not always spot pregnancy early. In fact, home tests are considered reliable if used according to the package instructions exactly one week after a missed period.

Nonetheless, there are instances where pregnancy tests produce false positives and negatives. Although these instances are rare, they still happen in certain situations that may result in false positive results. For instance

  • You take medication containing HCG
  • You have protein or blood in your urine
  • You are going through menopause
  • You have ovarian cysts or an ectopic pregnancy

Although the false negatives are more common than false positives, most of them are as a result of user errors such as:

  • The test has passed its expiry date
  • Taking the test too soon
  • You did not follow the instructions on the test kit
  • Using diluted urine (It is important that you take the test after you wake up. At this time, urine is more concentrated)

Which Factors Influence the Test Results?

  • Timing of implantation. Although a pregnancy test mostly relies on HCG presence, timing of implantation could result in a negative test as it takes about a week for the egg to attach to the uterus wall. Therefore, taking a pregnancy test too early will definitely result in negative results.
  • Urine HCG level. HCG levels in urine changes depending on how much you drink. If you take too much fluid, this is likely to result in dilute urine that is not good for a pregnancy test. More concentrated urine has positive results.
  • Blood HCG level. If a woman has low levels of the HCG hormone in their blood, the test might take longer to show positive results. This is because there is a variation of HCG levels hence affecting the accuracy of the pregnancy test.
  • Sensitivity of the early urine HPT. Different HPTs have different sensitivities. For this reason, it is advisable to read the instructions on your test kit to determine its sensitivity before using it.
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