How Soon Is Too Early to Test for Pregnancy?

When you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant, it can feel like torment waiting to know for sure. You might have sore breasts, mild cramping, and other signs of early pregnancy that could also be premenstrual symptoms, and it causes you to waver back and forth, thinking you are pregnant and then thinking you are not. That can leave you feeling more confused and wondering how soon you can get the answers you need. You have seen ads for pregnancy tests that claim to detect pregnancy five days before your expected period. So, should you test that early? And how soon is too early to test for pregnancy? We will answer those questions here.

When Is It Too Early to Test for Pregnancy?

If you take a pregnancy test before you have missed your period, you increase your chances of getting a false negative result. This means the test will read negative when you actually are pregnant, so experts recommend waiting until you have already missed your period to prevent false-negative test results.

Why Wait?

As hard as it is, it is best to wait so that if you are pregnant, your body has enough time to produce human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone that a pregnancy test will detect in your urine. Your peace of mind in knowing your result is accurate is worth it!

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

After sex, an egg is fertilized with sperm (fertilization). The fertilized egg travels to the uterus and attaches into the uterine lining (implantation). Implantation occurs about 7-14 days after you have had sex, and it triggers your body to start producing the pregnancy hormone, hCG. Your hCG levels will double every 48-72 hours after implantation, and it is important to give those levels time to climb.

What About Early Pregnancy Tests?

Early pregnancy test manufacturers market to your desire to get answers as early as possible. It is not hard to see the advertising on the box and read the claims of 99% accuracy along with the ability to detect pregnancy six days before your missed period.

But let us take a closer look, so you do not test too early for pregnancy. The first thing to consider is that the percentage provided on the front of the package is only accurate when you take the test on the day of your expected period — and in a laboratory setting by professionals. The same goes for the the instructions printed inside the pregnancy test kit; the claims of accuracy are elevated because they do not reflect real-life testing in real-life situations.  The results from a University of New Mexico study reveal the chances you can anticipate getting the right answer from an early home pregnancy test:

  • One day past your expected period: 100% of pregnancies detected
  • On the day of your expected period: 96% of pregnancies detected
  • On the day before your expected period: 93% of pregnancies detected
  • Two days before your expected period: 81% of pregnancies detected
  • Three days before your expected period: 68% of pregnancies detected
  • Four days before your expected period: 42% of pregnancies detected
  • Five days before your expected period: 33% of pregnancies detected
  • Six days before your expected period: 25% of pregnancies detected

When Is the Best Time in Your Cycle to Test?

Although your body begins to produce hCG 7 to 10 days after fertilization, waiting provides the most accurate results. In order to give your body enough time for hCG to build up to a detectable level in your urine by a pregnancy test, it is best to take a pregnancy test about 14 days after fertilization. For a woman who has a 28-day cycle and ovulates 14 days after her last period, this would mean testing on the day you expect your next period if you suspect you are pregnant. For the most accurate results, take a pregnancy test a couple of days after your missed period.

If your test is negative and your period does not start, you still might be pregnant, but your hCG levels are just not high enough to register on the test. Most testing kit instructions recommend you wait one week to take another test; however, many women test a few days later. Contact a healthcare professional if you still have a negative pregnancy test or have further questions.

When Is the Best Time of Day to Take a Pregnancy Test?

The best time of day to take a pregnancy test is first thing in the morning because at that time your urine  contains the highest concentration of hCG. This is particularly important the earlier you are taking your pregnancy test. You can test later in the day, but you will have a higher chance of seeing a false-negative test result because your urine will be diluted. Tips for testing include:

  • Use first-morning urine (or after you haven’t urinated in at least four hours).
  • Don’t drink a lot of fluid that could dilute your hCG levels before your test.
  • Check to make sure the pregnancy test is not expired, which can provide inaccurate results. Checking the expiration date is particularly important if you keep pregnancy tests at home “just in case.”
  • It is understandable that once you have the pregnancy test in your hands, you want to get to the answers quickly. Plus, it seems like a no-brainer because they are designed to be easy to use. Take time to read all of the instructions and follow them precisely. Even if you have taken pregnancy tests before, little variances between them can be the difference between a result you can count on and a wrong one.
  • We all know how easy it is to lose track of time, so do not try to estimate when to read your results. Set a timer so you can read your test results exactly at the time directed in the instructions. Do not read the test window after that set time because a faint “evaporation line” can appear, which makes your test appear to be positive when it is really negative.

Hopefully, this information is helpful to understand the value of not testing too early for pregnancy, so you can have peace of mind knowing your results are accurate.

If you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant, Willow Womens Center is here for you. We offer medical-grade pregnancy testing at no cost to you. Our licensed healthcare professionals provide other no-cost services that empower you to make informed decisions that you are comfortable with. Make your appointment today by calling 608-312-2025 or use our online scheduler.


Understanding Pregnancy Ultrasounds

A pregnancy ultrasound is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images your healthcare providers can view on a computer monitor to give them information about your pregnancy. You might be wondering why a pregnancy ultrasound is necessary if you have not yet made a decision about your unexpected pregnancy. Ultrasound is beneficial because the images provide your medical team with important data, and this knowledge can give you the facts you need to make an informed decision about your pregnancy.

Types of Pregnancy Ultrasounds

Pregnancy ultrasounds include transabdominal, transvaginal, Level 2, 3D, doppler, and fetal echocardiography ultrasounds.

After a positive pregnancy test, you will likely receive:

Transabdominal ultrasound

Gel is placed on your abdomen, and a roller-like device (transducer) is moved over the gel on your abdomen. The transducer picks up soundwaves that produce images onto a computer screen.

Transvaginal ultrasound

A special, smaller transducer probe is lubricated with gel and gently placed into your vagina to obtain images. Transvaginal ultrasound is used primarily in early pregnancy.

Ways a Pregnancy Ultrasound Is Useful

To Determine Pregnancy Viability

Even if you have already decided upon abortion, you will need to know if your pregnancy is viable. A positive pregnancy test result tells you that the hCG pregnancy hormone was detected in your urine. However, it does not mean you have a viable pregnancy.

According to the March of Dimes, as many as half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage: 80% of those occur in the first trimester — or the first twelve weeks. So, after a positive pregnancy test result, you will need to confirm your pregnancy is viable by ultrasound. A viable pregnancy is one that is expected to continue and result in childbirth (if no other steps are taken).

If no fetal heartbeat is detected, you would not need an abortion but would be referred for medical treatment instead.

The location of your pregnancy also impacts viability. If your healthcare provider detects a heartbeat by ultrasound, but the pregnancy is located outside of your uterus (i.e., in the fallopian tube), your pregnancy is also not viable. An ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy implanted in the fallopian tube, is a medical emergency and requires immediate intervention.

The fetal heart rate also impacts the viability of your pregnancy. Research reveals that if an ultrasound detects a very low heart rate, called embryonic bradycardia, the rate of miscarriage is significantly higher. If embryonic bradycardia is identified during your ultrasound appointment, you will likely be asked to return in about a week to repeat the test.

To Determine How Far Along You Are in Your Pregnancy

An ultrasound can accurately measure how many weeks pregnant you are. You can’t count on using only menstrual dates for accuracy because many women experience period-like bleeding while they are pregnant.

If your pregnancy is unexpected, and you are still gathering information about how you will proceed, you will need to know how far along you are because your options will partly depend on that.

To Determine If You Have a Single Pregnancy or Multiple Pregnancy

An ultrasound can also give you a valuable indication that you might be carrying a single or multiple pregnancy.

Get the Answers You Deserve

If you have had a positive home pregnancy test or think you might be pregnant, contact our compassionate team at Willow Womens Center. We provide licensed professional medical care, including pregnancy testing and ultrasounds at no cost to you. Reach out today by calling 608-312-2025 or by using our online scheduler.


There Are so Many Different Pregnancy Tests! What’s the Difference?

You are wondering if you could be pregnant, so you go to the drugstore to pick up an at-home pregnancy test. But when you get there, it is overwhelming. There are so many to choose from! You do not want to waste money and buy one that is not accurate and then have to purchase another one. How can you tell which ones are best? In this article, we will discuss features of various at-home pregnancy tests and their accuracy so you can choose the best one for you.

Pregnancy Test Features

At-home pregnancy tests are designed to detect whether or not there is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine.

Most women want tests that can give them test results early, quickly, and accurately. Some features to  consider when choosing a home pregnancy test are listed below:

Pregnancy Test Strips

Some pregnancy tests are so basic they are sold in packages of 10-50 at a time. They are merely testing strips without any plastic covering. To test, you would urinate into a cup, dip the test strip into the urine, and then lay the strip on a flat surface until it is ready to be read. The results display will reveal a small “control pad” and a “result pad.” A line will appear on the result pad if your test is positive. Pregnancy test strips are the least expensive option, particularly if you need to test often.

Non-Digital Pregnancy Test Sticks

Pregnancy test sticks are similar to strips except that the tests are housed in plastic so you can hold the stick directly under a urine stream. Like pregnancy strip tests, the result window will display a line if you are pregnant. The common complaint about non-digital test sticks is that the results can be difficult to read, especially if the levels of hCG are low.

You can usually purchase them in packages of one to five tests so you can retest if you need to.

Digital Pregnancy Tests

Digital pregnancy tests display a clearly written “pregnant” or “not pregnant” answer in the result window. This takes away the uncertainty that can accompany a non-digital test as you try to discern if you see a faint positive line.

Digital pregnancy tests are most accurate because they reduce human error. They usually cost a little more than non-digital tests.

Early Pregnancy Tests

Some at-home pregnancy tests are “early pregnancy tests” because they can detect hCG in your urine up to six days before you miss your period.

To get the most accurate result, test with first-morning urine or concentrated urine, so the hCG levels are easier to detect if you are pregnant.

There are drawbacks to testing that early, though.

One – they can detect chemical pregnancies. A chemical pregnancy is a pregnancy that miscarries just after implantation. Many women never know they were pregnant when they experience them. However, now that at-home pregnancy tests can detect the pregnancy hormone so early, they can cause unnecessary anxiety and grief for women.

Two – early pregnancy tests have a higher rate of false-negative results because it is too early to detect the hCG hormone. You can usually purchase early pregnancy tests in multiples because of the higher chance you will need to retest after a false negative result.

There are many different brands of pregnancy tests to choose from and it could be overwhelming. Willow Womens Center can give you a definitive answer with our free pregnancy-related services. Since all tests are most accurate after you have missed your period, we suggest waiting until a few days after your missed period to schedule your appointment by calling 608-312-2025 or by using our online scheduler.

Get the Answers You Need

If your at-home pregnancy test was positive, or you just think you might be pregnant, contact Willow Womens Center by calling 608-312-2025 for a confidential appointment. Our caring support team will help you consider all your options, so you can make the informed decision that is right for you.


Unexpected Pregnancy Advice: Can I Get Through This?

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” – Cayla Mills

You have plans for your life, and an unexpected pregnancy is not one of them. Yet, it is interesting how life has a way of surprising us with unforeseen detours that ultimately teach us more about our strength and resilience than if everything fell into place according to our plans. We can even experience great joy from life’s unexpected plans.

After the shock of learning you are pregnant wears off, you begin to think about what to do next. Like most women, you may ask yourself, “Can I get through this?” The short answer is, yes. Yes, you can get through this!

Here is some unexpected pregnancy advice to empower you and encourage you that you are going to be okay.

Keep Positive People Close

You already have fears going through your mind, so the last thing you need is people around you who are adding to your worries.  It is not mean to set boundaries to protect your emotional health right now. In fact, it is good for you.

Do not listen to anyone who has an agenda for you. This includes anyone who wants you to make one decision over another about your pregnancy. You are the one who will live with the outcome of whatever your choice is for the rest of your life, so your decision needs to be the choice that is best for you, not someone else. Be very strong about this. You can do it.

Choose Positive Thoughts

Neuroscience research repeatedly reveals that our thoughts create new neural pathways in our brains. In other words, our positive thoughts rewire our brains to think positively and stimulate positive feelings. In the same way, our negative thoughts rewire our brains to think negatively and stimulate negative feelings.

Choosing positive thoughts will help you cope with an unexpected pregnancy. So instead of asking yourself, “How could I let this happen?” or telling yourself that all your plans are ruined, ask yourself what you can do to stay healthy, and focus on the one next step.

Take One Step at a Time

Before you start thinking about next year or five years down the road, try to only think about your one next step. Our advice for this next step is to get unbiased and experienced pregnancy support. The trained staff at Willow Womens Center can help you understand your pregnancy options. We will provide you with all the facts you need to make a well-informed decision. After your visit – take a deep breath and allow yourself some time to process each possible option.

Pregnancy Support Is Available

If you choose to parent, Willow Womens Center offers a Parenting with Love and Logic® Program to equip you with the skills you need. Stay tuned to find out more about the new Mentoring Program we will be launching in the Spring 2020 – this will be geared toward women who are experiencing their first pregnancy. For those who choose abortion, Willow Womens Center offers a post-abortion recovery program if you are struggling with your emotions afterwards. If adoption is your best choice, we can help you connect with different adoption agencies!

Contact us online today for a confidential appointment or by calling 608-312-2025.


4 Tips for Navigating an Unexpected Pregnancy With Your Partner

There is no doubt about it; an unexpected pregnancy is challenging. Navigating a relationship through it can add another layer of difficulty. But you are not alone. Nearly 50% of all pregnancies are unintended, so many other couples have also navigated an unexpected pregnancy together.

Here are four tips to navigate an unexpected pregnancy with your partner.

Keep your perspective.

An unexpected pregnancy is not the end of the world – although at first it may seem that way! You may discover that you are stronger and more resourceful than you ever imagined. It may strengthen your relationship, or it may reveal the weaknesses. Either way, it is a good thing.

Also, you did not become pregnant by yourself, so do not allow anyone to assign sole responsibility to you or heap shame onto you. An unexpected pregnancy takes two people.

Tell your partner you are pregnant.

Telling your partner you are pregnant makes it all feel real – and scary. Some women tell their partner when they suspect they might be unexpectedly pregnant, and some wait until after their pregnancy is confirmed. This is your personal decision and also depends on your relationship.

It is never a good idea to communicate life-changing news by phone or text. Talk with your partner face-to-face during a calm time when you have a chance to process the news together. Instead of saying, “I’m pregnant,” say, “We’re pregnant.” This verbiage is a reminder to your partner that he had an active role in your pregnancy.

Your safety is a top priority, so if you believe your partner will react angrily, tell him about the pregnancy in a public place or with a trusted friend.

Give one another space to process the news.

Your partner will probably express a combination of surprise and shock just as you may have felt when you discovered you were pregnant. Try not to take his initial reaction personally if it is not as supportive as you hoped. Give him space to think about what you have said. Then begin to discuss your options.

Research all your options with an experienced options counselor.

You may have an initial thought about how you want to proceed with your unexpected pregnancy. Still, it is crucial to thoroughly research your pregnancy options with an experienced options counselor before you make a decision.

  • Parenting: Parenting is the choice to continue your pregnancy and raise your child. It is a decision that is separate from your relationship decision. There are many resources available to single parents.
  • Adoption: If you are not ready to be a parent, but you are also not comfortable with abortion, adoption can be the right choice for you. As the birth parent, you choose if your adoption is open, closed, or a combination. You can also select the adoptive family to raise your child in a manner with which you are most comfortable.
  • Abortion: Abortion ends the pregnancy. Medical and surgical abortions are options depending on your health and stage of pregnancy.

Ultimately, you are the one who will live with the outcome of the choice you make. Make your decision carefully, trust your gut, and resist anyone’s attempts to coerce you into one option over another.

Support is Available

Willow Womens Center provides confidential and compassionate pregnancy support. We have licensed medical professionals and experienced advocates to help you consider your options and assist you with some of the necessary resources you may need. Make an appointment today by calling 608-312-2025.