How soon can I take a pregnancy test?

Almost every person who can become pregnant has been faced with a pregnancy scare at one time or another. Whether you are feeling mild anxiety or are in a bit of a panic attack, there are some simple facts that might be helpful. Each situation is different, but carafem is here to support you and we will try to help.

How early can you take a pregnancy test?

If it’s been more than 5 days since you had unprotected sex and it’s too late for EC, you can get a pregnancy test from a doctor or take a home pregnancy test (HPT). Home pregnancy tests are now just as effective as the tests available in a doctor’s office. There are many kinds available, and more expensive tests are not more accurate than those that are less expensive.

You should take a pregnancy test 10 –14 days after unprotected sex.

Many home pregnancy tests can determine if you are pregnant as early as 10 –14 days after unprotected sex. A urine pregnancy test performed 21 days or more after having unprotected sex should provide definitive results. The earlier you know if you’re pregnant, the more options you’ll have for receiving care, regardless of whether you want to continue your pregnancy or not! Medication abortion is generally available up to 11 weeks of pregnancy, and some states have laws banning abortion earlier than that, so it’s important to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible (10 –14 days after unprotected sex) so you have more time to consider your options and seek care.

A urine pregnancy test from a doctor’s office is no more effective than a home pregnancy test. If you prefer to take a pregnancy test at a doctor’s office anyway, be sure to go to a reputable, licensed provider — you should avoid most places that advertise free pregnancy testing. Often called Pregnancy Resource Centers or Crisis Pregnancy Centers, these are offices typically run by non-medical, often religious-based institutions that exist only to try to discourage people from choosing to have an abortion and will give you inaccurate information about your pregnancy and abortion oprtions. You know what decision is best for your life, your family, and your future, and carafem will support you no matter what.

What time of day should I take a pregnancy test?

Most over-the-counter pregnancy tests work best if you use them with the first urine you pass in the morning, which is when your urine is most concentrated. These tests are looking for the presence of hCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, a hormone produced during the onset of pregnancy.

Don’t forget; home pregnancy tests may not work if they are expired, or if you don’t follow the instructions. Before you take your test, remember to check the expiration date, and make sure you understand and follow the instructions. Be sure to read the test result only after waiting the time recommended in the test instructions. Never pick up a test after a few hours once it’s in the trash and read it again. Many tests will show a false positive result if left sitting long enough.

What if I get a negative pregnancy test result?

If you get a negative test result, but still believe you may be pregnant, wait a few days and take another test. You may want to avoid sexual activity that could result in a pregnancy during this time. If it has been more than 21 days since you had unprotected sex and your test is negative for pregnancy, you are not pregnant.

If you are still experiencing early pregnancy symptoms after a second negative test result and your period hasn’t returned, you may want to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Remember, there are things other than pregnancy that can delay a period.

What if you find out you are pregnant?

If your home pregnancy test is positive, you may know right away what option is best for you. But if you don’t, that’s okay. Some people need to take more time to carefully weigh their options of abortion, adoption, or parenting a child. If you find you need to talk more about your options, there are several nonjudgmental resources but we recommend All Options, an organization dedicated to peer counseling and support. Additionally, the Pregnancy Options Workbook is a free self-guided resource to help you consider each option you have and navigate your emotions and decisions regarding your pregnancy.

If you are considering abortion, please be aware of the laws in your state, so you know of any limitations on how long you may have to choose an abortion. This varies widely across the US and from state-to-state. For more legal support options to you can reach out to Jane’s Due Process or If/When/How.

Immediate Steps for Emergency Contraception

If you have had unprotected sex within the last 5 days and do not want to be pregnant, you may want to try emergency contraception (EC). You can get over-the-counter emergency contraception at most drug and grocery stores without a prescription in every US state. Brand names like PLAN B work about the same as the many generics out there, so less expensive versions are fine. While it’s effective up to 5 days, emergency contraception works best within the first 3 days after unprotected sex, so it’s important to take the medication as soon as possible.

Considerations for Different Body Weights and Other Options

One consideration — if you weigh more than 165 pounds, emergency contraception medication may be less effective for you. Unfortunately, there is not enough research to fully determine how effective emergency contraception medication is at different weights — after reviewing all available research in 2016, the FDA concluded the data was “conflicting and too limited to make a definitive conclusion.” Because of this, for people who weigh more than 165 pounds, we recommend speaking to a provider about ELLA, a prescription brand of EC that is not impacted by body size, so it’s equally effective for everyone.

Another option is going to a health center for the insertion of a Paragard IUD, which works to prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex. ELLA, the Paragard IUD, and generic Plan B medications are all options to prevent pregnancy even after unprotected sex.

I missed my period and I don’t want to be pregnant.

Don’t worry, we can help! First and foremost, take a deep breath and know you are not alone. Abortion is a common and normal experience — 1 in 4 people who can get pregnant will have an abortion in their reproductive lifetime. It’s a good idea to get as much information as soon as possible about your options. Reviewing our website or calling carafem is a great place to start.

Our staff will often start the call or ask online if you know the day your last period started. This is how we can date how far along you are in your pregnancy so we can provide you with abortion options specific to your needs. You can also access our website for information about choosing the abortion pill vs. an in-office abortion procedure. If you want an abortion but you live in a state where carafem doesn’t yet offer services, you can find another trusted abortion provider on the I Need An A website.