Has it just hit you at 10 PM that you’re five days late on your period?
Have you been trying to conceive and you’re wondering if it’s okay to take a pregnancy test as soon as you get off work because the suspense is just killing you?
If you’re feeling any symptoms of early pregnancy, then it may be time to take a home pregnancy test. But when is the best time to take one? Will it be accurate if you take it at night?
Keep reading to find out.
How Do Home Pregnancy Tests Work?
Home pregnancy tests work by detecting the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in your urine. Your placenta rapidly produces this hormone in the first few days of pregnancy after the embryo implants into your uterine wall. HCG supports the development of your growing baby.
Most home pregnancy tests have you either collect your urine in a cup and dip the stick into your urine or place the stick in your urine midstream. With some, you even have to collect urine and insert it into a well on the stick with an eye dropper.
Then you need to lay the test on a flat surface and wait for a designated period (usually between three to five minutes). After this time, you’ll look for a change in color, a line, or a symbol to confirm pregnancy (source).
When to Take a Home Pregnancy Test
Most home pregnancy tests claim to detect pregnancy as early as three to four days before your missed period. But for the most accurate results, healthcare providers recommend waiting until one week after your missed period (source).
You may even experience some pregnancy symptoms before taking a test, such as:
- Food aversions or cravings.
- Implantation bleeding or implantation cramping.
- Tender or swollen breasts.
- Frequent urination.
- Enhanced sense of smell.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of pregnancy, it is certainly okay to take a pregnancy test sooner. Just know you may get a false negative from taking it too early. A false negative means a negative result when you are pregnant.
This could happen because you don’t have enough hCG in your urine yet to be detectable. If you get a negative result but think you’re pregnant, wait five to seven days and retake the test.
Taking a Pregnancy Test at Night
All home pregnancy tests are designed to detect hCG, but there are certain times of the day when it’s more readily detectable.
However, no one can stop you from taking a home pregnancy test at night. If you really can’t wait until morning, go ahead and take one.
The only issue is it might be inaccurate.
If the test comes back positive at night, then you are most likely pregnant, as it is pretty rare to get a false-positive result (but not impossible). A false positive is a positive pregnancy test when you are actually not pregnant.
False positives are usually the result of an ectopic pregnancy, early miscarriage, fertility drugs, or user error (reading the test too soon/late or misinterpreting the evaporation line as a positive line).
If your test comes back negative, just try again in the morning. You may get a different result with your first morning urine, as there may have been too little of the hCG hormone in your urine at night to trigger a positive result.
Pay attention to the fine print on the pregnancy test pamphlet. When it says it’s 99 percent accurate, it doesn’t mean it’s this accurate before you expect your period but only after you already have missed your period.
Editor's Note:Christine Traxler, MD, BS
What About a Blood Test?
Blood tests also work by detecting the hCG hormone but can detect a pregnancy much sooner (about 7-12 days from conception) than a urine test.
A blood test should give you the same result no matter what time of day, but they are more expensive, have to be done at a doctor’s office, and take longer to get results back (source).
- If you think you might be pregnant, but are too anxious to wait until morning to take a pregnancy test, go ahead and take one. Remember though, taking a pregnancy test at night could lead to inaccurate results.
- If you take a pregnancy test at night and get a positive result, then you are most likely pregnant. However, if the result is negative, it’s possible you might not be pregnant. But you may have also just not had high enough levels of hCG in your urine to be detectable.
- So if you get a negative result, take another test in the morning. You may get a different result with your first morning urine. Good luck, and I hope you get the results you want!
Have you ever taken a home pregnancy test at night? Did you get accurate results? Share your experiences with us in the comments and be sure to share this post all of your friends trying to conceive.