Understanding Home Pregnancy Tests: When Can You Get a Positive Result?
Home pregnancy tests are designed to detect a specific hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). When you can get a positive pregnancy test result depends on the stage of pregnancy at which hCG becomes detectable. Let's break it down by days past ovulation (DPO):
7 days past ovulation: unlikely
7-14 days past ovulation: possible
14 days past ovulation: likely
Reminder that the accuracy of the above is completely dependent on the person's ability to reliably confirm that ovulation occurred, rather than being based on when we predicted ovulation would occur. This is an important distinction.
The Fertility Roadmap course helps take the guesswork out of determining your ovulation date and therefore reduce any potential heartbreak of getting your hopes up or down based on using the wrong ovulation date to determine when to start testing.
Pregnancy Test Accuracy Based on DPOs
Your Pregnancy at 7DPO
The process of obtaining a positive pregnancy test begins once ovulation occurs and the egg is released. If fertilization of the egg is to occur, it happens in the outer third of the fallopian tube within 24 hours of ovulation. It takes 3-5 days for the fertilized egg (now called an embryo) to travel through the fallopian tubes and reach the uterus.
Once in the uterus, the embryo goes through the process of implantation. Implantation usually occurs between 6-10 days after ovulation, and it refers to the process in which the embryo embeds itself into the uterine lining.
Pregnancy Symptoms at 7DPO:
Implantation bleeding or implantation pain might be your first pregnancy symptoms around the 7DPO mark.
Can I get a positive pregnancy test by 7DPO?
At this stage, the embryo is most likely still working on implanting itself into the uterine lining and isn’t producing hCG yet.
Even if your egg is fertilized and implanted into the uterine lining by 7DPO, your home pregnancy test likely won’t be able to detect it because hCG levels are still too low.
Your Pregnancy Between 7DPO- 14DPO
Once implanted (6-10 days after ovulation), the embryo starts producing hCG, which is the hormone detected by home pregnancy tests.
A note on how amazing HcG actually is
HCG has a fascinating role. The follicle, which housed the egg in your ovary, was left behind when it ruptured, causing ovulation to occur and the egg to be released. That ruptured follicle became the corpus luteum, and it is responsible for the production of progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone that prevents your uterine lining from shedding.
Why? As the egg's "mama," it's trying to keep the uterine lining intact long enough for its "baby" (the fertilized egg) to make its way into the uterine lining. Once the implanted embryo starts producing hCG, this sends a signal to the corpus luteum to keep producing progesterone so the uterine lining doesn't shed and take the embryo with it.
Pregnancy Symptoms between 7DPO – 14DPO
HCG is the hormone responsible for alerting the rest of your body that you're pregnant. It causes progesterone to rise, estrogen to rise, among other things. The rise in these hormones is what causes the onset of pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea, tender breasts, etc., though they aren't experienced by all women, and even when they are, they're experienced to varying degrees.
That's why you likely won't experience any pregnancy symptoms before 7DPO, since hCG isn't being produced yet. However, you can start experiencing pregnancy symptoms after 7DPO, as hCG is possibly already being produced, even if it's not being produced at a level detectable by a home pregnancy test.
Can I get a positive pregnancy test between 7DPO – 14DPO?
Is it possible? Yes. Somewhere in this timeframe, hCG starts being produced in increasing amounts every day. That's why the line on a pregnancy test gets darker every day. There's a higher concentration of hCG.
But before you start testing at 7DPO, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Can you handle getting a negative pregnancy test when you may, in fact, be pregnant?
It could still be too early to get a positive test, so you need to prepare yourself for a false negative.
Can you handle getting a positive pregnancy test for a pregnancy that might end early?
This is what we would call a chemical pregnancy, a pregnancy that is detectable via a home pregnancy test but terminates soon afterward. Many women don't realize they experienced a chemical pregnancy because they assume it's a regular period since it comes at about the same time. Chemical pregnancies are common but can be emotionally difficult to deal with.
Wanting to get pregnant ASAP so you can save time and minimize heartbreak? Check out our Course:
The Fertility Roadmap: Navigating Your First 12-Months of Trying to Conceive
Your Pregnancy After 14DPO
If the corpus luteum doesn't receive a signal from the egg confirming its safe journey, it will cease progesterone production after 12-16 days, leading to menstruation, and the entire cycle will begin anew the following month.
However, if it does receive a message from the egg indicating a successful journey, the corpus luteum will persist in producing progesterone for up to 12 weeks until the placenta assumes this role. How is this message conveyed from the egg to the "mama"? Through hCG!
Pregnancy Symptoms after 14DPO
If you're pregnant by 14DPO, your body will be generating some level of hCG, even if it remains undetectable by a home pregnancy test. Experiencing pregnancy symptoms before your missed period is not uncommon, but rest assured, it's also common not to feel them.
Can I get a positive pregnancy test after 14DPO?
Yes, it's likely, although not impossible, to receive a false negative result.
In conclusion, understanding the timeline for obtaining a positive pregnancy test result is essential. While it's tempting to test early, patience may be key to avoid potential false negatives and emotional ups and downs. Remember that every woman's body is unique, and pregnancy experiences can vary widely.