When a couple decides that it’s time to have a baby, there are a few ways to go about TTC – trying to conceive. On one hand, the couple can ditch whatever form of birth control they were using and let nature take its course. They keep their fingers crossed and hope that eventually, things will work out and that before long, there will be a bun in the oven.
For couples trying to conceive, some research suggests having sex two to three times a week or even every other day after a woman’s period has ended to boost chances of fertilization. Any eggs that are released during ovulation only live for about twelve hours, so if any sperm are stuck in fertile cervical mucus, (those guys can live up to five days!) there’s a better chance that conception will occur.
So then what happens? The couple waits. And waits. Until it’s time to take a pregnancy test. Nowadays, there are extra-sensitive home pregnancy tests available that can be used before a woman even misses her period – which can be great for a woman who is dying to find out if she’s pregnant. But early pregnancy tests can have some downsides, too.
15 How Do These Things Work, Anyway?
Home pregnancy tests are designed to tell if your urine contains a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is produced right after a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of a woman's uterus. The hormone starts being produced a few days after fertilization, and when you’re pregnant, the levels of hCG rise rapidly, even doubling every few days.
Have you seen those commercials that promise an at home pregnancy test can tell you if you’re pregnant five or even six days before your missed period? These tests promise to give you an accurate result as early as a week before you even miss a period because they detect such minimal amounts of hCG in the urine.
Blood tests are done at your doctor’s office and can detect pregnancy earlier than a home pregnancy test – even as early as six to eight days post-ovulation. When you get a positive home pregnancy test, your doctor’s office may require you to come in for an additional in-office urine or blood test to confirm your pregnancy.
14 I Have To Wait HOW LONG?
If you’ve been trying to conceive for awhile, you’re probably already familiar with the two week wait. There are message boards and websites for those who obsess during this stressful period of time. The two week wait is the window of time between ovulation and when you can actually take a pregnancy test and hope to get a positive result. And because some of those tests claim that you don’t even have to wait until you’ve missed a period to take one, many women will start testing at the earliest possible window in hopes of getting that positive result as soon as the test will show it.
And if they get a negative result? Disappointing, for sure, but it’s okay. Some women will take a test the following day. And the following day. Yes, some women will keep on testing until they either get the coveted positive result – or their period.
13 When SHOULD You Take One?
While some at home tests boast super-early, accurate results, if you want to make sure you’re getting a really accurate result, you should wait at least until the day after you should have gotten your period. Want to be really accurate? It’s better to wait until your period is a week late.
But you probably can’t help yourself. Whether it’s your first month TTC, or this ain’t your first rodeo, you’re probably dying to know if this is THE MONTH. So you head on down to the drug store. Or the dollar store. Or you even buy some tests online and have them shipped right to your house.
Whenever you decide to take a home pregnancy test, make sure you follow the package directions correctly. Some tests may direct you to hold the test stick or strip in the stream of urine while others require you to catch the urine in a cup and then dip the test strip in the cup.
12 How Accurate Are Home Pregnancy Tests?
Home pregnancy tests are very accurate, but there are some things that can affect the accuracy of their results.
The best way to detect hCG is to take the test first thing in the morning, during your first trip to the bathroom, when your urine is most concentrated. And even though you’re super excited, you can’t just expect the test to instantly show you your results. If the directions on the package say to wait two minutes… you actually have to wait two minutes to be sure the test develops correctly. Find something to do for a few minutes, because it can feel like an eternity!
If the test is done incorrectly, taken too early, or is expired, you could end up with an inaccurate result. If you get a negative result and still have pregnancy symptoms (missed period, morning sickness, breast tenderness, and fatigue), wait a week and take another test or contact your doctor so you can have a blood test done.
11 Can You Become Addicted To POAS?
As we mentioned earlier, there are some women out there who seem to be addicted to POAS - peeing on a stick, as you'll see on some trying to conceive message boards. Women will take multiple pregnancy tests until they either get the positive result they want, or Aunt Flo shows up and says “Better luck next time!”
This torturous habit can get started earlier in the woman’s cycle while she’s trying to pinpoint her window of opportunity – the most fertile days of her cycle. There are ways to determine when ovulation is near – you can chart your basal body temperature and study your cervical mucus. Another option is taking an ovulation predictor test.
An ovulation predictor test is very similar to taking a pregnancy test. You pee on a strip and watch it change colors. I suppose you could take one every day of your cycle to see what happens, but the best idea is to take it around the midpoint of your cycle, when you expect to be ovulating. The test will get darker and darker each day, until it’s finally the same color or darker than the control line on the strip. This means ovulation is near and it’s time to get busy!!!
If you’re healthy and you have a very regular menstrual cycle, it can be satisfying to track your ovulation by peeing on these little strips. You know the result that you want to get – and eventually, you’re going to get it. Those pregnancy tests? We’re not exactly that lucky.
But still, some women can’t resist taking a pregnancy test as soon as possible. And then, if it’s negative… maybe they’ll take one the next day or the day after. Just in case.
10 POAS Can Be An Expensive Habit!
It might start out with wanting to take one pregnancy test around the time your period is due. The only thing is, a lot of home pregnancy tests are sold in packs of two or three. So if you take one and get a negative result, and you have another one sitting there, you can always take it in a day or two.
But these things aren’t cheap! Looking at drug store websites, the cheapest home pregnancy test we found was $12.99 for two. Prices can go up as high as $19.99 or more. If you want a digital test, those can cost as much as $23.99 for one test! ONE!
While it might not seem too bad to spend $13 to $20 a month, when you start doing it several months in a row, that money all adds up. (Think of all the pregnancy books or cute baby onesies you could buy instead!) But once you’re hooked on POAS, it can be a tough habit to break. So you start looking online to find a cheaper price and discover that you can get 25 home pregnancy test strips for as long as $6.99! A lot of women figure this option is way cheaper... so why not!?
9 Do You See What I See?
If you’re already worrying about trying to conceive (Did we do it enough? Did we do it too much? Did we do it on the right day? Should we do it again?) then when it comes time to take a pregnancy test, you might end up worrying all over again.
What really stinks about TTC is that a lot of early pregnancy symptoms are very similar to PMS symptoms. So how do you know if what you’re feeling is what you HOPE you’re feeling… or just Aunt Flo coming to town? Ugh!
Then you’re sitting in the bathroom, studying the test, waiting for that miraculous second pink line (or blue plus, or PREGNANT) to show up in the little window. Sometimes your eyes will play tricks on you. Is that a second line or am I just seeing what I want to see?
Think you’re going crazy? Nope. You’re not the only one. In fact, there’s a website, Countdown to Pregnancy, with a gallery devoted to pictures of pregnancy tests. Users can upload their pregnancy tests so that others can vote on whether or not the test is positive. If you can't tell if there's a line, maybe someone else can.
8 My Test Was Positive, Now It's Negative
It’s natural to want to know as soon as possible if you’re pregnant. One of the biggest drawbacks of taking an early pregnancy test and finding out that you’re pregnant is that it’s possible to get a positive result… and then end up losing the pregnancy very early on. This can be known as a chemical pregnancy. An egg is fertilized and begins producing hCG, the hormone that indicates pregnancy on home pregnancy tests. But for whatever reason, the egg doesn’t fully implant and the uterus sheds its lining – and the egg.
Chemical pregnancies can happen often, and women don’t even realize it; the only sign that something might have been different with that cycle is that the woman’s period may come a little later than usual. But if you’re trying to conceive, and you’ve been hoping for that positive result, it is devastating to lose the pregnancy, no matter how early.
7 Can You Get A False Positive?
Usually, if you get a positive test, you’re pregnant. There are some rare occasions where you can have a false positive, where you’re not pregnant, but the test thinks you are. You could have a false positive result on your test if blood or protein is present in your urine or if you are taking certain drugs or medications. If you are taking fertility treatments, a pregnancy test might show up positive. Some fertility treatments involve a trigger shot, or an injection of hCG. If you were to take a pregnancy test after your injection, you would get a positive result.
It’s also possible to misinterpret the line where your urine evaporated on the pregnancy test. Rather than looking like the pink or blue line that would indicate a positive result, it may appear gray or off-color. You might want to test again to confirm.
There is also a type of ovarian tumor that secretes hCG and could make a pregnancy test look positive. If you have no reason to suspect you’re pregnant, then you should definitely see a doctor.
6 Can You Get A False Negative?
It's possible to get a false negative on a home pregnancy test. This means you get a negative result even though you really are pregnant. This is much more likely to occur than a false positive result.
You can get a false negative if you take the test too early. There might not be enough hCG in your system to register the test as positive. You might still be pregnant, but hCG levels aren’t high enough to be detected.
The test results might not be accurate if you did not follow the instructions on the package or did not wait long enough for the results to show up. Results can also be thrown off if the urine is diluted. That’s why it’s best to take the test first thing in the morning.
If you get a negative result, you can wait a few days, and you still don’t get your period, try taking another test. If you continue to get negative results and you still don’t get your period, check in with your doctor. Lots of health factors can lead to missing or irregular periods.
5 Getting A BFN
The dreaded BFN. On trying to conceive message boards, this acronym means Big Fat Negative. It sucks to wait and wait to take a pregnancy test, especially when you even think you might be feeling some early pregnancy symptoms.
This is why you shouldn’t start testing early. Your chances of getting a positive result at 9 or 10 days post ovulation are already kind of low. So testing at 5 or 6 days post ovulation? You’re really setting yourself up for disappointment.
But if you get a negative result and still don’t get your period when you expect it, wait a few days and test again. Maybe you ovulated later in your cycle than you thought. Or maybe you tested too early and your body hasn’t made enough hCG yet to get a positive result.
And if you eventually do get your period, although it’s discouraging and disappointing, try to relax and remain positive.
4 Well, That Was A Waste...
It’s tough to take one pregnancy test after another and to keep getting negative results. The thing is, you’re still holding out hope that your positive test is just around the corner. Maybe tomorrow will be your lucky day…But then Aunt Flo shows up and ruins everything.
It’s super frustrating because you wasted a test. (Or tests.) You’re kicking yourself because you know you basically just flushed your money down the toilet. (Even if you’re buying the super cheap test strips in bulk… it’s still money wasted.)
You know that if you had waited one more day and gotten your period, that you wouldn’t have had to bother with taking another stupid test.
And now you have to start the whole process over again. You have to wait another couple weeks. You have to wait until you ovulate. You hope you timed everything right. Then you have to take a test again.
3 More Waiting...
Remember, most couples who are trying to conceive will get pregnant within a year of starting their trying to conceive journey. There are lots of things you can do to increase your odds of getting pregnant. Read books and talk to your doctor about ways to boost your fertility. You can use different methods (or a combination of methods) to track your ovulation, which can help you pinpoint your most fertile days. This can help give you a better idea of when to time intercourse.
Once you ovulate, you and your partner have done all you can. It’s time to wait again. Consider taking a month or two to lay off the pregnancy tests. Maybe the stress of all that testing is getting to you. Maybe it’s taking the fun out of trying to get pregnant. Relax and enjoy this time with your partner. Eventually, a baby will come, and you will wonder what it was like when it was just the two of you.
2 A BFP At Last!
So what are you supposed to do when your pregnancy test shows a barely-there line or plus sign? What if it looks like there’s a line, but it’s very faint and hard to see?
The good news is that no matter how faint the line is, it means you’ve got your BFP – Big Fat Positive! Congratulations! You’re pregnant! If you don’t believe what you see, wait a few days and test again. If there is more hCG in your system, you’ll end up with a darker result.
Once you get that positive result, call your doctor’s office to schedule your first prenatal visit. Some doctors won’t see you until you’re eight weeks along, or until they confirm the pregnancy with an in-office pregnancy test. Even if you have to wait a few weeks for your appointment, if you take any medications, ask the doctor if it’s safe to continue taking them. And if you’re not already taking a prenatal vitamin, now’s the time to grab one!
1 Get Ready For More Tests, Mama!
Did you think all that testing would be behind you once you got pregnant? Wrong. Be prepared to pee in a cup at just about every prenatal visit!
You’ll be tested for lots of different conditions, like bacteria and protein in your urine. Bacteria can be a sign of a UTI; if the infection spreads to the kidneys, it puts both mother and baby at risk. Protein can also be a sign of a UTI or preeclampsia.
You’ll be checked to see if you have any STDs or infections. You will also be checked to see if you are immune to chicken pox and rubella; if a woman contracts these illnesses for the first time during her pregnancy, her baby may be at an increased risk for birth defects.
In addition, your blood will be typed and tested and you may be offered many different options for ultrasounds and other prenatal and genetic tests.