Pregnancy testing at a glance:
- Pregnancy tests are very accurate after a missed period.
- Home pregnancy tests are usually the same as pregnancy tests you get from a doctor.
- If you take a test and it’s positive, see a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider to confirm the results and talk about your options.
Am I pregnant?
Taking a pregnancy test is the only way to know for sure if you're pregnant. A pregnancy test can tell you if you’re pregnant as soon as your period is late — some can even detect pregnancy a few days before a missed period. You can take a home pregnancy test or go to a health center for testing. You can get home pregnancy tests at most drugstores. They cost about $8-15, and most are 99 percent accurate.
Keep in mind there are lots of things besides pregnancy that can cause a late or missed period, including stress, being sick, not eating enough, lots of exercise, or using certain kinds of birth control.
If your pregnancy test is positive, it’s a good idea to double-check your results with a doctor or nurse. While you’re there you can also talk with them about your options.
What are early pregnancy symptoms?
While there are lots of symptoms of pregnancy, usually the first thing you’ll notice is missing your period. Other pregnancy symptoms usually start around the time you would be expecting your period. But for many women, symptoms don't happen until a few weeks after that. Early symptoms can include feeling tired, being bloated, peeing often, mood swings, upset stomach, and sore or swollen breasts.
Using only symptoms to figure out if you’re pregnant is a bad idea because lots of pregnancy symptoms (like nausea or having to pee often) can come from other things (like eating bad food or drinking a lot of liquids). Other symptoms, like mood swings, feeling tired, bloating, and sore or swollen breasts can be caused by your period. So the only way to find out for sure if you’re pregnant is to take a test after a missed period.
If you find out you’re not pregnant from taking a test and you’re still concerned about your symptoms, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor or nurse.
When should I take a pregnancy test?
Pregnancy tests work best once you’ve already missed your period.
Some tests also work a few days before a missed period — you can read the information on the box to see when the test will work. But, if you think you might be pregnant, it’s a good idea to wait until your period is already late to take a pregnancy test.
If you want to be extra sure, you can take two tests a few days apart to confirm the results. You can also visit a doctor or nurse for a test.
How do pregnancy tests work?
Pregnancy tests are usually done with urine (you just pee on a stick). They test for a hormone that your body only makes if you’re pregnant.
Most doctors and health centers use urine tests to check for pregnancy — the same tests you find at the store — because they’re super accurate. Blood tests are sometimes used, but they’re less common.