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Pregnancy Test: When Does it Turn Positive?

A pregnancy test becomes positive only after the fertilized egg has implanted into the uterus and sent enough hCG (i.e. the "pregnancy hormone") into your blood stream. Implantation, when the fertilized egg implants into the endometrium, happens about a week after ovulation (range: 6-12 days), and it takes another 3-4 days after implantation (9-10 dpo: days after ovulation) for the blood pregnancy test to first become positive. 

  • Blood Pregnancy Test: If you are pregnant then the blood pregnancy test is usually positive within 3-4 days after implantation or about 9-10 days after fertilization and ovulation.
  • Urine Home Pregnancy Test (HPT): The urine pregnancy test will usually not become positive in most women until a missed period or about a week after implantation. Many manufacturers of urine pregnancy test want you to believe that the urine test is usually positive before a missed period, but only about 25% of pregnant women will test positive with the HPT 2 days before a missed period, and about 40% the day before the missed period. On average, a pregnancy test will be positive 13.5 days after ovulation, or about the time you expect your menstrual period.

The amount of time it takes for a pregnancy to be detected and the wide variation of time it takes for a urine pregnancy test to become positive is due to five variables:

  • Pregnancy TestTiming of Ovulation
  • Timing of Implantation
  • Blood hCG levels
  • Urine hCG level (e.g. how concentrated or diluted the urine is)
  • Sensitivity of the pregnancy test

 

  1. Timing/Day of Ovulation: A pregnancy test depends on the day of implantation and the urine pregnancy test is usually positive 4-5 days after implantation. However, the day of ovulation is important too, as implantation can only happen if ovulation took place and the egg was fertilized. Therefore, if your day of ovulation was later than you thought, implantation and subsequently the positive pregnancy test will also be delayed. This is why it is really important to keep track of your ovulation day (OD) so you can start counting the days to implantation and eventually the positive pregnancy test. 
  2. Timing of Implantation: A pregnancy test detects the presence of the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) either in the blood or in the urine. The hCG in the urine comes from the hCG in the blood after being filtered through the kidney. After ovulation, the egg gets fertilized and travels through the fallopian tube toward the uterus. This journey takes about a week on average. Implantation, the attachment of the fertilized egg to the lining of the uterus, occurs on average about a week or so after ovulation/fertilization, but it can happen as early as six days and as late as 12 days after fertilization/ovulation. At the time of implantation, the placenta starts making the pregnancy hormone hCG, which then enters the blood stream. How early a pregnancy can be detected depends on the pregnancy hormone hcG, which can be detected in the blood about three to four days after implantation. Urine hCG can be detected about two to three days after the blood hCG can first be seen. Detection of hCG depends on timing of implantation, so hCG can normally be detected in the blood between nine and 16 days after ovulation (HPT: 12-19 days after ovulation).
  3. Blood hCG Level: There is a wide variation of "normal" hCG levels, both in the blood and the urine. This wide range changes the diagnosis of how early a pregnancy can be detected. If a woman has low blood hCG levels, for example, it can take several more days for it to show up on a pregnancy test.
  4. Urine hCG Level: Urine hCG levels change over the course of the day depending on how much you drink and how diluted or concentrated the urine is. The time it takes for a pregnancy to be detected depends on the urine concentration. If you drink a lot of fluid, the urine may be too diluted early to achieve an hCG concentration adequate enough for a positive test. Urine pregnancy testing is best done with more concentrated urine.
  5. Sensitivity of Urine Home Pregnancy Test: Different pregnancy tests have different sensitivities, which affects how soon a pregnancy can be detected. The lower the sensitivity, the earlier a pregnancy test becomes positive. Sensitivities are indicated in mIU/mL, the lowest amount of hCG in the urine that tests positive. A sensitivity of 20 mIU/mL requires one-half the amount of hCG to be positive as a test with a 40 mIU/mL sensitivity level; it may become positive several days earlier than the pregnancy test with a higher sensitivity. Make sure you read the package of the pregnancy test to determine your pregnancy test's sensitivity.

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1 Posts
By: Kim snow On: Apr 3, 2014  12:58AM

OK so for 2 to 2 1/2 weeks now I have been nauseated and vomiting now within the last 3 days the nausea is getting so bad that I am constantly having to eat every minute of the day to keep small amounts of food in my stomach at all times. I have been pregnant before I have a son 14 and 6 years ago a tubal and a few miscarriages to follow over the past 4 yrs. I have not actually been able to get a positive urine however I know I am pregnant.  Unfortunately I can't accurately remember the date of my last period my friend who starts after me is just about to start and I took a test today that is still negative.  I have a doctors appointment Fri should I bother testing in the am.... 


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By: sandranjonathan On: Jul 2, 2012  4:08PM

i need help.... two weeks ago i.took a pregnacy test n it said positive i had my doubts since the line was faint....so two days later i.took a second test n it said positive and the line was faint again.... then 3days after i took the second test i started bleeding but not a normal period bleeding....i took a third test the same day i started bleeding and it said negative... i still feel pregnant tho....i cramp from time to time n feel nauseous n have sord breast from time to time....can i.still b pregnant even if i had a negative test and mild bleeding?


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By: sach83 On: Nov 25, 2011  4:19AM

Hi, me and my husband trying for a baby from last 4 months. I have irregular periods, I went to the doc and he advised me to take Duphaston for 6 months to regular my periods. in October ( first month I took Duphaston ) and I got my periods in 28 days. in this month I'm still waiting for my periods. I took clearblue HPT and it was negative. I'm just worrying .Negative Home Pregnancy Test, 3 days after missed period.Could I Still Be Pregnant? pls help.


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By: Jmw1205 On: Aug 12, 2011  12:47AM

Maybe someone can help me, I didn't have my last period, I thought it could be because I misses 2 pills from my pack, anyhow the only time in that cycle I had intercourse was a week after my last period even though I used a condom and took the pills that week on time I was worried. The day after my period was supposed to start (it's started on the same day for the past few years since I've been on the pill) i took 4 pregnancy tests, 2 at one time 2 at a different time later in the day. They all showed negative. Then today which would be exactly 4 weeks after intercourse I took 2 more both at different times and they both showed negative as well. I had no spotting, nothing. I'm still worried I might be pregnant I'm medical student with a lot of school left so I don't want to be. I am also worried I might have something wrong. Or maybe it's from skipping pills. Please help me


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By: jen222 On: Aug 8, 2011  2:29AM

I have been reading many posts about implantation. I usually have irregular cycles, but for the last 2 months they have been 32 days. I had my last period begin on July 13th. I had some spotting and cramping 8 days (August 4th) BEFORE my missed period (August 13th), so I took an at home pregnancy test, 3 to be exact. I used 2 different tests, and all 3 tested positive. Is this even possible to test positive this early and be accurate?


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By: andygal On: Oct 21, 2011  8:34PM

Your comment made me laugh...I tested 10 days before I expected my period and I was shocked beyond belief when it showed a faint positive!  I laugh, because my first sono showed twins!!!  Sadly, I miscarried at 12 weeks (but not sad anymore, nature and God decided it was not meant to be and trying again anyway!).  I am curious to know what happened and if your positive was accurate?

3 Posts
By: Faith-love On: Apr 15, 2008  6:53AM

This is Faithlove, I had miscarriage on April 1st,08 & did D&C thesame day. I was having nausea, sick, and dizzy last week. So I went to the hospital and result came back positive, serum Preg*Pos(dja) hcg, beta subunit, Qnt, serum-26. When I did home pregnancy test it showed Negative twince. I'm currently on FERTILAID for women & the tea. Though I asked my OB-Gyn if it possible to be pregnant so soon but he told me there is no way. What is going on here? Can I stop taking it or what? PLEASE I NEED YOUR HELP!

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By: Sequana On: Nov 18, 2008  12:15PM

The positive serum beta HCG was due to your miscarriage, sometimes it can take many weeks for HCG to reach <5 (negative). There has not been enough time elapsed for you to ovulate again since surgery. Sabrina :)

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By: favvy On: Feb 27, 2009  8:12AM

Triphasic pattern was detected on my bbt chart,my period is due on 27/02/09.No sign of AF and temperature is still above coverline.

4 Posts
By: favvy On: Feb 27, 2009  8:12AM

Did HPT test but was negative

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