For anyone hoping to become pregnant, time can move slowly and days dominate the calendar. We’ve all been told not to wish the time away, but in reality, between the approximate time of ovulation and when your next period is due, it can be very difficult not to wish that the clock would speed up, and the pages of the calendar would fly away as if in a speed-up movie sequence. Instead, we must spend the time waiting and hoping.
During this time the big question on your mind, naturally, is how long after conception can you take a test. In this IVI blog article, we look at some of the factors that can influence the answer to this seemingly simple question.
How long after pregnancy can you test?
How soon you can take a pregnancy test depends on when conception took place. Unlike the sexual act, which can be identified with accuracy, this can’t be known until some time later. The reason for this is that, although you are at your most fertile a day or two either side of ovulation, you can still get pregnant if you have sex at any point during the week before ovulation, as sperm can live inside a woman’s body for up to seven days. Pregnancy tests work by measuring the urine level of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), which your body begins to produce after you conceive. However, this is another slight variable since women differ in the amount and speed of production of HCG. As a result, if you take the test too early you could get a false negative because the amounts are too low to register on the test.
Home pregnancy tests are very accurate if taken any time from the first day of your missed period. Some claim to be able to measure the presence of HCG 6 days sooner than the day of your missed period, i.e. 5 days before the day of your expected period, but the most reliable advice is to hang on until the missed period day. An exception would be if there was a medical necessity for an accurate pregnancy test more quickly. In this case, a blood test administered by a medical professional can be done between 7 and 12 days following conception, although there is still a small possibility if the test is taken too early, that it will result in a false negative. As a rule of thumb, wait until the day your next period is due and if you get a positive result on the first day of your missed period, it is probably about 2 weeks since you conceived.
How accurate are pregnancy tests?
Home testing kits these days are highly accurate as long as you follow the instructions and don’t test too soon. False negatives can occur for reasons we’ve seen, and if you get a negative result but still feel that you are pregnant, wait a few days and then test again. However, you’ll be glad to know that false positives are very rare and a positive result is almost certainly correct.
Again, there are exceptions and false positive pregnancy test results can be caused by certain medicines. These include medicines used to treat allergies and Parkinson’s disease, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic drugs such as diazepam and clozapine, diuretics, anti-convulsants and some medications used in the treatment of infertility. If you are taking any medication, the information leaflet that comes with it will flag up if it affects pregnancy test results, or you can check with a pharmacist.
Dealing with disappointment when tests turn out negative
It’s almost inevitable when you are positively trying for a longed-for pregnancy, that there will be disappointments, sometimes many, along the way. Conception does not always happen right away, even in the absence of any fertility problems and when all the conditions are right. In particular, it’s well known that women who have been taking the contraceptive pill can take a while, sometimes up to 6 months, for their fertility to return to normal. So if you can possibly avoid counting the hours and days and taking multiple tests at the first opportunity, the better for your stress levels.
But still, for some people in some circumstances, the negatives keep coming. The question which started out as how long after conception can you take a test metamorphoses over time into a new question: how long should we keep trying before seeking some help?
Factors that can affect your fertility include your age and general health, your reproductive history and health and of course, how often you have sex. The good news is that 84% of couples who are trying for a baby get pregnant within a year. For couples where the woman is aged 19 to 26, the figure is 92% within a year and 98% within two years. When the woman is aged 35 to 39, the conception rate is 82% after a year and 90% after 2 years.
So, statistics may be on your side in the long run, but, as with the questions about how long after conception you can take a pregnancy test, patience can be difficult at such a crucially important time, particularly if you feel that your window of opportunity may be diminishing as you get older. Generally, we at IVI advise that it’s a good idea to ask for assistance when regular sexual relations have not resulted in pregnancy for a year, or, in the case of women over the age of 35, after you’ve been trying for six months. To help you prepare for the next step when you are thinking of consulting an assisted fertility clinic, why not browse our website to familiarise yourself with who we are and the help we could offer? You can also watch the video introducing us on our IVI YouTube channel.
What help is available to test for fertility problems?
When you decide that the time has come to seek some medical help, there is a range of tests for finding out whether one or both members of a couple are infertile. The tests start with a complete medical history and physical examination of both members of the couple. In the case of the woman, the primary tests are a basal hormone study, an ultrasound scan and a hysterosalpingography. The choice and range of tests can be varied and extended depending on the individual patient. The man’s fertility can be assessed with a semen analysis through a seminogram test.
What should I expect when I call to make an appointment with IVI?
You can request an appointment at any of our centres via our website or by calling us from the UK on our Freephone number. Our Patient Service staff will take a note of your personal details as well as a brief summary of the reason for your first visit, including whether you have had any previous treatments and whether you have the results of any tests previously carried out so that the doctor can prepare for your consultation.
If as a result of your consultation with us, you decide to have any recommended treatment carried out at one of our clinics in Spain, we have a very well established patient pathway, created in order to provide you with emotional support and reassurance throughout the journey. The quality of international patient assistance through our bilingual doctors and mentors has made IVI clinics a benchmark in their field. We have achieved this through our practice of assigning a patient mentor, fluent in the patient’s own language, who will stay with the patient or couple at every step of the way, providing friendly support and answering any questions.
This level of personal care and support is one of the reasons that patients from more than 185 countries have chosen IVI to help make their dreams come true. The other reason, of course, is our track record of success. Overall, 90% of couples who consult IVI for infertility problems achieve their goal. You can see a detailed analysis of this overall figure and check our record for yourself with our independently audited clinical results.
If your recommended treatment with IVI culminates in the most common assisted fertility treatment, in vitro fertilisation (IVF), you could find yourself virtually back to square one. Every IVF treatment, whatever the details of the steps and tests, checks and treatments, culminates in the transfer of an embryo into your uterus. After that you will be asking the same question again: how soon after conception can I take a pregnancy test? The answer is two weeks. We know it’s a time of heightened tension and anxiety; have a look at our tips on how to get through the 2-week wait. And take comfort from the fact that eventually, for 9 out of 10 women, the result will be positive.