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Despite the claim that home pregnancy tests are effective as little as two to three days before the first day of your next menstrual cycle, the human body does not always live up to this expectation. Urine pregnancy tests tell you when to test for pregnancy and even offer a 99% accuracy rate, but that means nothing when you are not releasing enough hCG two to three days before her menstrual cycle to change the test from negative to positive.

Planned Pregnancy

Women who are planning a pregnancy will often mark the days of intercourse on a calendar. This helps them to narrow down the time of conception. In this case, the menstrual cycle dates and ovulation cycle dates should also be marked on the same calendar. If conception was attempted during the ovulation cycle, a home pregnancy test may be accurate two to three days before.

After the menstrual cycle is missed, the corpus luteum responds to hCG levels in the body by continuing to produce progesterone. Women who want to know when to test for pregnancy should wait until after the menstrual cycle is missed. hCG levels will continue to rise for the duration of the pregnancy and thus the longer a woman waits, even just a few days, the more likely the home pregnancy test will be to accurately report a pregnancy.

Unplanned Pregnancy

If a pregnancy is unplanned, women may not be keeping track of menstrual cycles or ovulation cycles. This can confuse when to test for pregnancy. A good estimate can be calculated by estimating the first day of the previous menstrual cycle and adding 29 days. This new date is a good estimate of the first day of the current menstrual cycle. Adding another week to that date will make up for any mistakes in estimated dates. So, if the current menstrual cycle has not started after 37 days from the estimated start date of the last menstrual cycle, it is safe to take a home pregnancy test. If the test is negative, the time when to test for pregnancy could still be off by a few days, so test again in another week if the menstrual cycle has yet to begin.

Medication Consideration

Women taking medications considered unsafe for use during pregnancy may not have a specific date when to test for pregnancy. Planned pregnancy with the help of an obstetrician and the prescribing physician is the optimal choice. They will help figure out when to test for pregnancy. However, if there is an expected unplanned pregnancy, frequent testing may be more appropriate until the woman can have a pregnancy blood test as ordered by the obstetrician or gynecologist. Some medications can harm the fetus from the first days after conception, which is another reason to plan pregnancies if regularly taking medications that are dangerous to the fetus. 

When to test for pregnancy is generally timed for the day after the current menstrual cycle was supposed to start. There are multiple home pregnancy test options that offer very accurate results. Blood pregnancy tests can read hCG levels in the blood as soon as five days after conception.

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