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8th March, 20213 min read

How to use a pregnancy test

Medical reviewer:Dr Ann Nainan
Author:Kathryn Reilly
Last reviewed: 03/03/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

If you think you might be pregnant, this is one test you want to get right. Following some simple steps will help you get an accurate result, so read on to learn more.

How do I prepare for a pregnancy test?

It can be an emotional time, so it’s best to keep calm, take your time and make sure you have privacy before taking a test.

The first thing to do is check the expiry date on your test, to make sure it’s not out of date. Then read all the instructions carefully before you do anything.

Depending on the type of test, the instructions will tell you how to do your urine sample – you’ll either need to collect it in a cup or hold the testing stick in your urine stream while you wee.

What are the stages of doing a pregnancy test?

There will be slight differences depending on which brand of test you’re using, but the process is usually fairly similar. Once you’ve read all the instructions, the test will probably involve 3 steps:

  1. Remove the wrapper and take the cap off the testing stick.
  2. Put the tip of the testing stick in your urine stream or the cup. Keep it pointing downwards while it’s in your urine (usually for around 10 seconds).
  3. Lay the stick flat and wait the length of time recommended in the instructions (use a timer if in doubt) for your results to be ready.

When is the best time to take a pregnancy test?

To help make sure you get an accurate result, it’s best to wait until at least the day your next period is due before using a home pregnancy test.

This is because the test works by checking your wee (urine) for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which your body starts making as soon as you’re pregnant. But in the very early stages of pregnancy, your levels of hCG can be too low to be detected by a pregnancy test kit.

It’s also a good idea to do the test first thing in the morning, when your urine is more concentrated – if it’s diluted, it will contain less hCG.

Read more about when to take a pregnancy test here.

Can anything affect the results?

Medications that contain hCG, such as fertility treatments, could affect your test result. If in any doubt, check with your pharmacist or doctor.

It’s also best not to drink too much water or other fluids before doing a test, as this will dilute your urine and could affect the levels of hCG.

Key points

  • take the test somewhere private where you won’t be disturbed
  • read all the instructions carefully before you start
  • it’s best to wait until your next period is due before using a home pregnancy test
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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.