Reasons Not to Take a Pregnancy Test Early

Woman waiting for an early pregnancy test result
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For many women trying to conceive, taking multiple early pregnancy tests becomes a habit. It starts with one pregnancy test a month. Then maybe two, taken just a couple days before your period is due. Then, you find the dollar store pregnancy tests, and you’re taking a few each month: Perhaps one at 10 DPO (days past ovulation), 12 DPO, and 14 DPO.

Whether you are hoping for a positive or are not trying to conceive and anxious to know ASAP if you're pregnant: There are many good reasons not to take tests early (“early" meaning before your period is actually due, although technically, a pregnancy test taken on the day your period is due is also considered early). Before you take that next test, consider these drawbacks.

Disappointment

If you're hoping to conceive and your early test is negative, you’re likely to be disappointed. The odds of getting a positive result at 10 DPO are extremely small, even if you did actually conceive. Every day earlier than that, those odds are even lower.

What about early pregnancy tests—the ones where the box says you can take the test before your missed period? If taken correctly, these may deliver a positive result a day or two before your period is expected (say, at 12 DPO, not 10). But an early negative may be false. That means waiting another few days and re-testing. Consider whether that is worth your money and your emotional well-being.

Unclear Results

An early test doesn’t really answer any questions. It just confirms you don’t have any detectable pregnancy hormone in your urine yet. The process of fertilization and implantation takes several days, and a test taken before this process is complete won't be positive.

Chemical Pregnancy

If you do get an early positive pregnancy test result, it's not time to relax and celebrate (if you want to be pregnant) or panic (if you don't want to be pregnant). Unfortunately, one of the biggest drawbacks of early testing is that these early tests can detect a pregnancy that isn’t going to last, known as a chemical pregnancy.

According to at least one study, very early miscarriages may occur up to 30% of the time. Some are so early that most women don’t realize they are having one. If you don't test, you will get your period without knowing that you had conceived a nonviable pregnancy. While it may be disappointing to get your period, this may be less painful than thinking you were pregnant and then experiencing a loss.

You should not consider a positive to be a true positive until it happens at 15 or 16 DPO (in other words, after your period is late). Of course, there is still a risk of miscarriage at this point.

Anxiety

The two-week wait is a stressful, anxious time, born out of the uncertainty between ovulation and your expected period. You may think that taking tests makes it less intense, but it really doesn’t. You just won’t know if you're pregnant until your period is late and then you take a test.

Taken too early, a test—whether it's negative or positive—will not give you a clear answer. And that uncertainty does nothing to ease your anxiety during this time.

Effect of Fertility Treatments

If you’re going through fertility treatments, an early pregnancy test may pick up on the hormones used in these treatments. Specifically, if you have a trigger shot—or an injection of hCG, sold under the brand names Ovidrel, Novarel, Pregnyl and Profasi—you’re injecting pregnancy hormone into your system.

This means that if you took a pregnancy test the day after the injection, you would get a positive result. But that doesn’t mean you’re pregnant. Wait at least 10 days after the injection to test (12 days is even better).

Cost

Even the ultra-cheap pregnancy test strips that you buy in bulk can add up if you take multiple tests per month (which you'll need to do if you test too early). If you're trying to conceive for several months or more, you'll use a lot of tests. Since you can't get a definitive answer on a too-early test, save them for when they're more likely to be accurate.

A Word From Verywell

Taking an early pregnancy test is certainly tempting if you are trying to conceive. Tests promising an early result are readily available, as are very inexpensive options that might allow you to take multiple tests with every cycle. But the uncertainty of early testing may produce more stress than waiting, even when waiting feels like an eternity. If that's the case for you, hold off until you miss your period.

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