Why Should Early Pregnancy Tests Be Taken in the Morning?

A smiling couple looking at a pregnancy test

Timing is a key factor for pregnancy test accuracy. Here's why you should test first thing in the morning, and what to do if you have to wait until later in the day.


The Longest 5 Minutes: Taking a Pregnancy Test

HCG Levels in Early Pregnancy

Many companies recommend that you take your pregnancy test in the morning because first-morning urine typically contains the highest concentration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the pregnancy hormone.

The good news is that hCG nearly doubles about every 2 days in early pregnancy. That means that typically, after the fourth or fifth week of pregnancy, your hCG levels are high enough to show a positive result regardless of whether you use first-morning urine. The longer it's been since your missed period, the easier pregnancy is to detect even if the test is taken later in the day.

First-morning urine is most important when you are choosing to test very early in pregnancy. This is typically defined as before the first day your period is due, or shortly afterward. Whether you urinate on the stick or in a cup, the concentration of hCG is the same and the results are equally valid.

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A Positive Pregnancy Test: Now What?

Remembering to Test in the Morning

If you're sleepy when you wake up or in a rush, it's easy to use the bathroom out of habit before remembering to take the test. Avoid forgetting by shutting the toilet lid and placing the pregnancy test on top of it or leaving yourself a reminder.

If You Need to Test Later in the Day

If your schedule or circumstances make it impossible to test in the morning, there are ways to ensure a more accurate test later in the day.

You can recreate first-morning urine for a pregnancy test by not using the bathroom for at least 4 hours.

Avoid drinking more liquids than usual. Overhydrating is a common mistake, as you may assume that drinking more will produce more urine. However, doing so will dilute your urine, making pregnancy hormones harder to detect.

Using an early pregnancy test at night is another option if you're further along in your pregnancy. Alternatively, blood tests are more sensitive than urine tests and can be performed in your doctor's office. The accuracy of a blood pregnancy test is not dependent on the time of day.

How Far Along Are You?

Some digital pregnancy tests have an indicator on the front to estimate how far along you are. This feature relies on first-morning urine and may be inaccurate with testing later in the day.

Keep track of the first day of your period leading up to pregnancy to estimate gestational age. An early ultrasound and prenatal exam can help determine the due date of your baby.

A Word From Verywell

It's normal to feel eager as you await the results of a pregnancy test. However, allowing your body enough time to produce a sufficient amount of hCG will give you the most reliable results. A false positive or negative may be more emotionally challenging than simply waiting until the time is right to test. Ask your doctor about a pregnancy test if you feel strongly about testing early.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for over-the-counter (OTC) human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) 510(k)s - Guidance for industry and FDA reviewers/staff: FDA.

  2. Gnoth C, Johnson S. Strips of hope: accuracy of home pregnancy tests and new developmentsGeburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2014;74(7):661-669. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1368589

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Your guide to pregnancy tests.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.