Woman seated in her bathroom reading a pregnancy test resultIf you think you might be pregnant, it’s always a good idea to take a test and make sure. When done correctly, most home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate, which is about the same accuracy rate as pregnancy tests done in your doctor’s office. You can find an inexpensive home pregnancy test at most grocery or drug stores. If you’re wondering how to do a pregnancy test at home, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to learn how to ensure the accuracy of your at-home pregnancy test results.
The two main types of pregnancy tests are blood tests and urine tests. Typically, you can take a urine test yourself with a home pregnancy test, available over the counter without a prescription and in various price ranges. You can obtain a blood test to check for pregnancy through a lab test company or get tested in your healthcare provider’s office. A third way to confirm a pregnancy is by using an ultrasound, which an ultrasound technician performs in their office.
Home pregnancy tests differ in how early they’ll detect a pregnancy. You could get a positive result from an at-home test as early as ten days after conception. However, it’s best to wait until after you’ve missed your period to test to get a more accurate result. If you take a test too soon, you could get a negative result even if you’re pregnant. If you get a negative test and then miss your period, make sure to take another test.

9 Tips on How to do a Pregnancy Test at Home

Sometimes, a pregnancy test will give a false positive result, meaning that the test shows positive when a woman isn’t actually pregnant. False positive results are almost always a result of user error. Maybe she was anxious when taking the test and read the result wrong, or maybe she took the test incorrectly. An inconclusive or incorrect test result is the last thing you want, especially if the possible pregnancy is unexpected.
Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid any test-related confusion or anxiety and ensure the accuracy of your at-home pregnancy test results. These tips may seem obvious, but in the excitement and nervousness of the moment (Will I be? Won’t I be?), sometimes it’s easy to forget the steps needed to do a test.
Here are 9 tips on how to do a pregnancy test at home:

  1. Wait until you’ve missed a period. If you had unprotected sex or think you might be pregnant, it’s tempting to take a pregnancy test before you’ve missed a period. Wait until at least 10 days after a missed period to take a test. Otherwise, you might get an incorrect result.
  2. Avoid chugging water before your test in order to pee because it can reduce your HCG levels.
  3. Take the test in the morning. Time your test for when you have your first morning pee. Pregnancy tests work by catching the presence of the hormone human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine, which is more concentrated in the morning. If taking the test in the morning isn’t possible, wait until it’s been three hours since you last peed before you take the test.
  4. Read the directions carefully before you take the test, even if you’ve used a similar type in the past. Then re-read them, to be sure.
  5. Get a clock, watch, or timer ready to time the test accurately.
  6. Dip your test in a cup. Although most tests tell you to hold the test under your urine stream, this risks errors like not getting enough pee on the test strip. (This method also increases the chances of your test falling into the toilet!) Collect your urine in a small plastic cup and dip the test strip in the urine for the time indicated in the instructions.
  7. Find a safe, flat surface. If the pregnancy test requires you to wait for the results, place your sample on a flat surface, where it won’t be disturbed. Make sure that it’s away from heat.
  8. Read your test only after the recommended waiting period. Not waiting long enough (or waiting too long) can affect your pregnancy test result. Most tests show lines to indicate hCG is present in the urine. One line will be a control line that shows up no matter what, and the second line usually means a pregnancy. If you let the test sit too long, you may see a faint, colorless evaporation line and think you are pregnant.
  9. Wait before taking another test. If your pregnancy test kit contains a second test (or if you buy a second kit) wait at least a few days before re-testing.

How long does it take to get the results of a home pregnancy test?

Each test is different, so carefully read the instructions on how to do a pregnancy test at home. These instructions came with your test, telling you how many minutes to wait for your result. Typically, you’ll need to wait three minutes for your result. Remember that if you wait too long to check your test, it may be inaccurate.
Look carefully at the test result window because even a faint line could mean you’re pregnant. Your test will also have a control line that shows if you took the test correctly. The instructions with your test will summarize all of this. If you have any questions or remain unsure after several tests, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your gynecologist.
An evaporation line can show if you wait too long to check your test results and your pee dries on it. This line is different than a “faint line.” Most tests require that you check your results before 10 minutes have passed so the pee doesn’t dry up and you see an evaporation line.

What should I do if I get a positive pregnancy test?

If you do a pregnancy test at home and it turns up positive, there are a few things you should do:

  • Start taking prenatal vitamins. Check the ingredients list to ensure it has folic acid because it can help prevent complications during fetal development.
  • Call your physician to make an appointment. Pregnancy tests are typically accurate, but you shouldn’t rely on those results alone. An ultrasound will confirm your pregnancy and check the embryo’s health to see if the pregnancy is possible.
  • To get the nutrients you need during pregnancy, choose a mix of healthy foods from each food group, including whole fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking during pregnancy, and reduce the amount of caffeine you consume every day.

If you didn’t plan to get pregnant, start by looking more closely at how you feel about your pregnancy. An unplanned pregnancy can bring up many different feelings. Most women find they have mixed or conflicting emotions.
Adoption is one of your options, and it’s never too late to make this choice. If you’re not ready to become a mom, adoption can allow you to provide your child with the life you want for them. Plus, open adoption allows you to stay in contact with your child as they grow.
Call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784 whenever you’re ready to learn more about adoption.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on November 8, 2013, and has since been updated.