Whether it’s been on the cards for a while or you’ve been caught off guard, thinking you might be pregnant can be an emotional time – especially if it will make you a first-time mum (if that’s the case, here are the things nobody will tell you about becoming a mum!). The not knowing might spark a sense of urgency to take a test, but is as soon as possible the best way to get an accurate result? And what if you’re currently on your period – will the test even work?
Here are the answers to questions about when the best time to take a home pregnancy test is.
Will a pregnancy test work during your period?
If you’re bleeding vaginally or are on your period, you can still take a pregnancy test without affecting the result. This is because home pregnancy tests are designed to detect the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG, also known as the pregnancy hormone) in your urine. Blood that you pass when you pee will not affect the levels of hCG detected, and therefore will not influence the test result.
This said, if you are bleeding and think it’s your period, this is usually a good sign to confirm that you aren’t pregnant. A period happens when an unfertilised egg exits your body with blood and tissue from your uterus. When you become pregnant, you will no longer get your period because there will be no unfertilised egg to get rid of. This means that if you take a pregnancy test while bleeding and the results are positive, you were bleeding for a reason other than your period (more on this later).
When is the best time to take a pregnancy test?
Anytime from the first day of your missed period to around the tenth week of pregnancy is the optimal time to take a pregnancy test.
During the first eight to ten weeks of pregnancy, hCG levels increase quickly to a peak and then slowly decline over time. By the first day of your first skipped period, which is around ten days after ovulation, your period hormone levels should be high enough for a pregnancy test to pick up on them and show a positive result.
Possible reasons for bleeding during early pregnancy
If you thought you were on your period and still tested positive, there are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing early pregnancy bleeding. In fact, 25% of people who are pregnant may bleed during their first trimester. These reasons vary broadly from implantation bleeding when the fertilised egg is attached to your uterine lining, to unrelated infection like a UTI. We recommend that if you’ve tested positive on a home pregnancy test while bleeding, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
If you bleed in the first trimester or later on in your pregnancy, here are possible reasons why:
Most miscarriages occur during the first trimester of your pregnancy, which is why bleeding during this time can be a concern. Miscarriage isn’t uncommon, in fact, up to 20% of pregnancies are miscarried. If this happens to you, it doesn’t mean that it’s your fault or that something’s wrong with you.
This is where a fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus – often in the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy can’t result in birth but can put the mother at risk if the embryo continues to grow and cause the fallopian tube to burst. It happens to up 1/100 pregnancies.
Molar pregnancy (gestational trophoblastic disease)
Molar pregnancy is a rare condition that happens in almost 1/1000 pregnancies. Mass tissue forms inside of the uterus, instead of a baby. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and lower stomach pain or pressure.
An implantation is when the fertilised egg (embryo) attaches itself to the side of your uterus and starts to grow. This is so the egg can get oxygen and nutrition. The bleeding is often very light, happening within the first 6 – 12 days after you conceive, and only lasts as long as a few days. It can easily be mistaken for spotting.
Changes in your cervix
Your cervix might change during your pregnancy. Inflammation or cervical polyp (small growths) growth on the cervix can cause light bleeding. Neither are a huge cause for concern but if you’re concerned, we recommend checking in with a healthcare professional.
An infection in the vagina, cervix or from a sexually transmitted infection can cause bleeding. If you think you might have an infection, it’s best to check in with a healthcare provider.
Subchorionic haemorrhage (haematoma)
This is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus. A sac is formed between the placenta and the uterus, and this movement and resulting clots can cause bleeding. Many people will experience haematoma and still go on to have healthy pregnancies.
Other causes for light bleeding can include:
- Having sex
- An internal exam carried out by your doctor
We recommend that if you’ve tested positive on a home pregnancy test while bleeding, you see your doctor as soon as possible.
What to do if you think you might be pregnant, but your period starts
If you get a negative pregnancy test before you start your period, that’s usually the sign that you’re not pregnant.
However, if you’ve tested positive and are seeing bleeding or spotting, there’s no way to know what it could be. While light bleeding and spotting usually isn’t something to be concerned about, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and have it checked out.
Pregnancy, whether you’re trying to get pregnant, think you might be, or are in your third trimester, can be an emotional and stressful time. See a healthcare professional when you feel like you need to.