One of the most common questions we hear from women at our center is, “How do I know if I need to take a pregnancy test?” In some cases women put off taking tests because they think they aren’t pregnant, while in others they may rush to take a test too soon. If you’re concerned about a possible pregnancy, you should know the right time to schedule a free pregnancy test.

When to Take a Pregnancy Test

The best way to know when to take a pregnancy test is to consider the factors that could indicate you are pregnant. If you feel you meet any of the below criteria, contact us today to schedule your appointment for a free pregnancy test.

Sexual History

If you recently engaged in sexual activity, you might want to consider taking a pregnancy test. This is especially true if you had unprotected intercourse – but remember that it’s possible to become pregnant even when you use protection. No method of birth control is 100% effective, so don’t forget to consider the possibility of pregnancy even when you use protection.

A Late Menstrual Period

The most common sign that you need to take a pregnancy test is when your period is late. When you become pregnant your normal menstrual cycle stops, so a missed or late period can be a good indicator that you are pregnant. This is especially true if you missed your next period after having sexual contact.

Other Pregnancy Symptoms

A missed period can be a good indicator that you are pregnant, but for some women it’s tough to tell if their period is late or not. Many women have irregular menstrual cycles, and it’s also possible to miss periods for other reasons, like stress and sickness. To help you know when it’s time to take a pregnancy test, you can also examine yourself for other common pregnancy symptoms, such as:

  • Irregular bloating or cramping;
  • Swollen or tender breasts;
  • Feelings of nausea or morning sickness;
  • Unexplained fatigue or excessive tiredness;
  • More frequent urination;
  • Unexplained changes in appetite, or cravings or aversions toward certain foods.
  • Unexplained mood swings.

Note that these symptoms aren’t always indicative of pregnancy, but if you are experiencing them in combination with a missed period it’s much more likely you are pregnant.

A Note About Pregnancy Test Timing

Pregnancy tests are extremely accurate at detecting pregnancy when they are taken correctly. However, many women don’t follow the instructions when taking them, leading to inaccurate results. A key aspect of getting an accurate test result is taking your pregnancy test at the right time.

Pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of pregnancy hormone, known as human chorionic gonadotropin or HCG, in your body. HCG is only produced by women when they are pregnant, so a positive test result is almost always an indication of pregnancy. However, it takes time for HCG in the body to reach detectable levels.

What does this mean for you? In short, you need to wait a short time for your test to be accurate. You cannot take a pregnancy test immediately after having sex to tell if you’re pregnant. Most pregnancy tests are only accurate after you have missed your period, though some brands can detect HCG in your body nearly a week before your expected period.

Why to Get a Pregnancy Test as Soon as Possible

While you can take a pregnancy test any time after becoming pregnant, there are definite benefits to taking one earlier, such as:

  • Keeping Yourself and Your Baby Healthy – When you take a pregnancy test early on, you can adjust your diet and activities to keep yourself and your baby healthy during the critical early weeks of pregnancy.
  • Helping You Make Good, Informed Choices – Taking a pregnancy test early on helps you to make informed choices for yourself and your baby. The sooner you know about your pregnancy, the sooner you’re able to chart a course through the next nine months.
  • Lowering Your Risk – Not all pregnancies are healthy, and some can actually be harmful. Taking a pregnancy test early on can help catch these at-risk pregnancies and keep you healthy and safe.

Where to Get a Pregnancy Test

Not sure where to get a pregnancy test? Calaveras Pregnancy Center offers free pregnancy tests for all women in need. Simply call (209) 736-9600 or visit our center today to schedule your free, confidential appointment.