If you have missed a period and recently had unprotected sex, you may be pregnant. Pregnancy tests are most reliable from the first day of your missed period.
When You Can Do a Pregnancy Test?
You can carry out most pregnancy tests from the first day of a missed period. If you don’t know when your next period is due, do the test at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex.
Some very sensitive pregnancy tests can be used even before you miss a period, from as early as 8 days after conception.
You can do a pregnancy test on a sample of urine collected at any time of the day. It doesn’t have to be in the morning.
Where You Can Get a Pregnancy Test?
You can also buy pregnancy testing kits from pharmacists and some supermarkets. They can give a quick result and you can do the test in private.
The following places provide free pregnancy tests:
- community contraceptive clinics – find sexual health services near you
- sexual health clinics
- some young people’s services – call the national sexual health helpline on 0300 123 7123 for details
- Brook centers – for under-25s
You may also be able to get a pregnancy test free of charge from your GP.
How Does a Pregnancy Test Work?
All pregnancy tests detect the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which starts to be produced around 6 days after fertilisation.
Most pregnancy tests come in a box that contains 1 or 2 long sticks. You pee on the stick and the result appears on the stick after a few minutes. All tests are slightly different, so always check the instructions.
Pregnancy Test Results
Home pregnancy tests are accurate as long as you follow the instructions correctly.
A positive test result is almost certainly correct. However, a negative test result is less reliable.
The result may not be reliable if you:
- do not follow the instructions properly
- take the test too early
Some medicines can also affect the results.
If you get a negative result and still think you’re pregnant, wait a few days and try again. Speak to your GP if you get a negative result after a second test but your period has not arrived.