When you’re trying to conceive and are wondering if you’re pregnant, minutes can feel like hours, and hours can feel like an eternity — especially if you’re feeling symptoms of early pregnancy. You may find yourself wondering if you really have to wait for that morning urine or if you can accurately take a pregnancy test at night.
We’ll explain how pregnancy tests work and outline what doctors and midwives recommend, so you can decide if you’ll hold out until morning or go ahead and take a home pregnancy test at night.
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. After implantation, your hCG doubles every two to three days. This hormone supports the development of your growing baby.
Most home pregnancy tests require that 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, using an eyedropper.
Then you need to lay the test on a flat surface and wait for a designated period (usually three to five minutes). After this time, you’ll look for a change in color, a line, or a symbol to confirm pregnancy.
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 (1).
You may even experience some pregnancy symptoms before taking a test, such as:
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Food aversions or cravings.
- Implantation bleeding or implantation cramping.
- Lightheaded or dizziness.
- Tender or swollen breasts.
- Frequent urination.
- Enhanced sense of smell.
If you’re experiencing any pregnancy symptoms, 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 actually 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 take another 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, 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 not pregnant.
False positives are usually the result of an ectopic pregnancy, early miscarriage, fertility drugs, or user error (reading the test too soon or too late or misinterpreting the evaporation line as a positive line).
If your test comes back negative, you can 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 that accurate before you expect your period but only after you have already missed it.
What About a Blood Test?
Blood tests also work by detecting the hCG hormone but can detect pregnancy much sooner than a urine test (about 7-12 days from conception).
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.
- 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. However, taking a pregnancy test at night could lead to inaccurate results.
- If you take a pregnancy test at night and get a positive result, you are most likely pregnant. If the result is negative, you might not be pregnant. However, it’s possible you are pregnant but didn’t have high enough hCG levels 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.