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When can you really take that pregnancy test and expect accurate results? Many women who are trying to conceive are plagued by this question. Here are all the answers.

Are you trying to conceive and hoping to hold a positive pregnancy test in your hands as soon as possible? Though you're quite aware it may be months before you get pregnant, nothing is going to stop you from hoping that this month is the month you hit the baby jackpot. Chances are that the very fact you're actively trying to conceive means you know when you are ovulating. You may be on the constant lookout for very early pregnancy symptoms after your ovulation day has passed, but you ultimately know only a pregnancy test will give you a definite answer. 

Unless, that is, you take it too early. In that case, you might end up feeling unsure that your negative pregnancy test truly means you're not expecting, and you may well end up repeating the pregnancy test more than a few times. No matter where you buy your pregnancy tests, all that peeing on a stick is going to cost you more money than you need to spend.

You may be an overly-excited woman on a mission, but you'd still — ideally — rather not take your pregnancy test too early. When can you reasonably expect accurate results?

Pregnancy Tests: The Basics

Yeah, yeah, you probably already know this. Just in case you don't, here are the basics of how pregnancy tests work. At-home pregnancy tests are all urine tests. They work by detecting human Chorionic Gonadotropin, hCG, in your urine. HCG is a hormone that is only produced during pregnancy, starting the moment that fertilized egg successfully implants in your uterus. That, on average, happens six days after conception. It can also take longer.

If you did get pregnant, your levels of hCG will continuously rise throughout the early period of pregnancy. This means that you may get a faint line on your pregnancy test early on, and a clearer line later. As hCG levels drop later on, though, you may get a negative pregnancy test if you test at eight weeks, despite being pregnant. 

Different Types Of Pregnancy Test

Right after the hormone hCG was discovered, scientists used — get ready for it! — aquatic frogs to determine whether or not a woman was pregnant. Xenopus, the African clawed frog, was quite well known for its ability to detect pregnancy. A scientist would inject a female xenopus' hind leg with some urine from a woman who wanted to find out whether or not she was expecting. If the frog ovulated, and frog eggs appeared in the aquarium, the test was positive. 

Science have moved on a little since then. We still use hCG to detect pregnancy, but we leave animals out of the process. You can either get a blood pregnancy test or a urine pregnancy test. 

Blood tests can only be done at your doctor's office or a health clinic, for obvious reasons. They can detect pregnancy sooner after conception than urine tests: as quickly as six to eight days after ovulation. Because a lab technician will have to analyze the results, you have to wait longer before you know whether or not you are pregnant. In most cases, that means you may as well wait until you have the chance to do an at-home urine pregnancy test.  

Urine tests detect hCG in a woman's urine. Some are more sensitive than others, so your mileage varies greatly. More about that on the next page. 

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