A lot of questions swirl when you think you might be pregnant, especially if it’s after unprotected sex or a mishap with your birth control. You’ll want to know if you’re pregnant, but the best time for a home pregnancy test is after your missed period.
That’s because conception only happens during a short window of time around the day you ovulate or five days before that. And most pregnancy symptoms don’t start until you’ve missed a period already.
How to Confirm Pregnancy After Sex
Getting pregnant after sex depends on many factors, such as the type of sexual intercourse and the day of ovulation. It may take as little as a few hours for an egg and sperm to meet, but it can also take up to a week before the fertilized egg is implanted into the uterus. Regardless, the best time to take a pregnancy test is on or around the first day of your missed period. Pregnancy tests can detect a hormone associated with pregnancy as early as eight days after sex, but the more time passes since ovulation, the higher your chances of getting an accurate result.
If you are hoping to get pregnant, it’s important to know your “fertile window”—the short window in your monthly cycle when you can actually conceive. This window lasts for about a week and happens just before you ovulate. During this time, an egg is released from your ovary and hangs around in your fallopian tubes waiting for sperm. If a sperm swims its way into your vulva during this time and fertilizes the egg, you’re considered pregnant.
Of course, even if you don’t want to get pregnant, you can still use emergency contraception during this time, like Plan B or Ella. And if you do have unprotected sex, you can always use the copper IUD, which is almost 100% effective at preventing pregnancy if inserted within five days of your ovulation date.
Home Pregnancy Tests
Many women are curious to know how long after unprotected sex they can take a pregnancy test. These tests work by detecting the presence of the hormone hCG, which is produced after a fertilized egg implants in the uterus.
The earliest these tests can detect hCG is about a week after the fertilization of the egg. This is when the fertilized egg starts dividing and then travels through the fallopian tubes to the uterus where it attaches to the lining of the womb, known as implantation. It can be difficult to tell when this has happened unless a woman tracks her menstrual cycle or is using an effective birth control method.
Once a woman is pregnant, she may experience a lot of emotional and physical symptoms. Mood swings and nausea are common in early pregnancy due to the dramatic hormonal changes. Females can also start spotting or bleeding about two weeks after a positive pregnancy test result.
Home pregnancy tests are most accurate on or around the day you miss your period. This is because it takes about two weeks after ovulation (when the fertilized egg is created) for your body to produce enough hCG for most tests to detect. Some tests are more sensitive and can detect hCG much sooner, but they need to be taken in a doctor’s office.
Taking a Pregnancy Test
The good news is that pregnancy tests are getting better and better at detecting early pregnancies. The bad news is that a lot has to happen for an egg and sperm to join up and form a fertilized egg, which then has to implant itself into the uterus in order to start a new pregnancy. So, it often takes up to 15 days after sex for a pregnancy test to turn positive.
If you take a home pregnancy test, make sure to do it first thing in the morning when hCG levels are more concentrated in urine. Also, avoid drinking a lot of water before taking the test as this could interfere with the accuracy of the results.
You can sometimes get a pretty accurate test result as early as 10 days after unprotected sex. But this can vary a lot depending on your menstrual cycle, and it’s generally best to wait until you’ve missed your next period before testing.
That’s because most women ovulate in the middle of their 28-day menstrual cycle around day 14, and if you had sex during this time (known as the fertile window), it may take a little while for you to get an accurate pregnancy test result. In the meantime, you may be experiencing some early symptoms of pregnancy, such as implantation bleeding (light spotting that looks more like a period) and nausea.
Taking a Blood Test
Getting a blood test done is usually the last thing on most people’s to-do lists. However, they are an essential tool healthcare providers use to monitor and diagnose health issues. Blood tests involve removing a small sample of your blood through a vein. This may be done on an in-office visit or at home, depending on the type of test your doctor orders.
The best time to take a home pregnancy test is after you miss your period, as this will give the most accurate results. This is because a fertilized egg must implant into the uterine lining in order for a positive result to appear on a home test, and that can take several days after sex.
Once sperm has fertilized an egg, it takes several more days for the embryo to grow and then travel from the fallopian tubes to the uterus where implantation can occur. The length of time between sex and conception can vary from person to person, and many women don’t experience any symptoms until months after they have had sex.
If you have a regular menstrual cycle, tracking your periods with an app like Flo can help you understand when you are most likely to ovulate and be able to conceive. But remember that it’s also possible to ovulate without having a period.