How Early Can I Confirm Pregnancy?

Couples trying for a baby may give their best shot during the fertile period, but the remaining two weeks of their menstrual cycle could seem like complete torture and agony. You may feel stressed, anxious, distracted and worried during the agonizing wait in case you are trying-to-conceive (TTC).

This article examines some of the common questions that every woman has about pregnancy testing in case of natural conception and IVF.

Question #1: What is pregnancy hormone and how many days after ovulation is it produced?

In a typical menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs around Day 14, followed by conception (fertilization) that takes place in the Fallopian tube. Implantation may occur 5 to 10 days after conception and is marked by an increase in the “pregnancy” hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

Question #2: How does home-pregnancy test (HPTs) kits detect pregnancy?
After implantation, the amount of hCG secreted by the uterus doubles up every 48 to 72 hours, which is detected by almost all urine-based home pregnancy tests (HPTs) and blood pregnancy tests.

Question #3: How early can a urine-based home pregnancy test detect hCG levels?

It is estimated that almost 7 days after ovulation, there is 50 mIU/ml of hCG in the blood of the pregnant woman. Some HPTs are sensitive enough to detect even 20 mIU/ml of hCG, while others may detect it when the levels reach over 50 mIU/ml or 100 mIU/ml. Thus, it is okay to assume that you will have enough amount of hCG to be detected 7 to 10 days after ovulation in case you experience a 28-day menstrual cycle.

Question #4: What could a negative pregnancy result mean?
The hCG levels in some women may rise slowly as compared to others. In case you get a negative pregnancy test result, even a day after missing your periods, you are advised to repeat the test against after three days or a week. Missing a period is not the only sign of pregnancy. It could be a result of an exposure to stress, hormonal imbalance and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Question #5: Should I wait for two weeks after ovulation to get accurate results?

Some women may ovulate later than they think, while others may not produce enough hCG. Therefore, they may get a false negative result in case they test 7 to 10 days after ovulation. This is the reason why it is worth waiting for a full two weeks and test 10 to 14 days after ovulation to get accurate results on a HPT sensitive to any extent.

Question #6: How reliable is urine-based HPT for pregnancy confirmation?
It is a safe and reliable method used for the detection of early pregnancy. You may conduct the test two weeks after the expected date of ovulation or three days after missing your periods.

Question #7: When is blood-based pregnancy used to test for pregnancy?
Quantitative blood pregnancy test may also be used to detect early pregnancy. It is more sensitive than a urine test as it quantifies the exact amount of hCG in the bloodstream with a sensitivity of 0.1mIU/ml. It is primarily used to confirm a HPT, to ascertain weeks of conception, to monitor early pregnancies to see if they are viable or not and in case of IUI/IVF where women are very anxious to know early results.

Question #8: How early can I test for pregnancy in case of IVF?
In case of IVF, the embryo transfer may be conducted on Day 2 or 3 or Day 5. It is important to note the stage at which the embryo is transferred as the pregnancy test result would depend on it.

The following table explains the best time to test for pregnancy post IVF and the daily embryo growth events as they happen inside the body.

Thus, the earliest we can reliably check for pregnancy post embryo transfer would be day 9 post ET in case of blastocyst transfers and day 11/12 post ET in cases of day2/3 embryo transfers.

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