Tips for How Long to Wait to Take Another Pregnancy Test

How long should you wait to take another pregnancy test?
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The decision to take a pregnancy test is typically not a light-hearted decision. The good news is that pregnancy tests are easy to find, fairly inexpensive, relatively easy to use, process quickly, and are very accurate. While a home pregnancy test is incredibly accurate, there may be a number of reasons that you might want to repeat the pregnancy test at a later date. Some of these reasons include:

  • You tested before your period was due and are uncertain of the results.
  • You got results that don't match your physical symptoms.
  • Medication you were taking may have interacted with the test.
  • You didn't follow the instructions correctly.
  • You simply want to take another test.

All of these are perfectly valid reasons for repeating a pregnancy test, but what is the ideal time frame between pregnancy tests?

Follow the Pregnancy Test's Instructions

Most pregnancy tests include instructions that encourage you to wait at least one week between a negative test and taking another pregnancy test. This is to allow time for your body to build up enough hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to be detected in your urine. 

You may choose to test before the week is up, knowing that hCG nearly doubles every forty-eight hours. This is not harmful to anything other than your wallet. Though you may continue to get a negative result until your body builds up enough hCG to turn the test positive if you are pregnant.

This can drive you insane. It may also be difficult to tolerate emotionally and may lead you to take chances with your potential pregnancy, like drinking because you had a negative pregnancy test, even though you may still be pregnant. It is always a good idea to "act pregnant" until you have proof that you are not pregnant.

Testing Too Early is a Common Issue

Some pregnancy tests advertise that they will be accurate the day that your period is due. Others boast they can have a positive result before you even miss your period. The truth is, now that pregnancy tests have become so inexpensive, many women will test earlier in their cycle than is recommended in order to get an answer sooner. 

The problem with testing sooner is that the pregnancy test that you take is less reliable. This is not because pregnancy tests are inaccurate but rather there simply isn't enough hCG to turn the test positive. The pregnancy test still does what it says it will, detect hCG in certain amounts. And your body is doing what it is supposed to do, make hCG. It's just that the amount you've excreted and the amount that a pregnancy test detects are at two different levels.

What Happens If You Don't Wait a Week Before Testing Again

The week between the original pregnancy test and the next test is often too much for a person to bear. This leads to many people testing before the end of the week is up. A couple of things can happen:

  1. You take the pregnancy test and it's positive and you go get prenatal care.
  2. You take the pregnancy test and it's negative and you wait to retest again.
  1. You take the pregnancy test and it's negative and you test daily until you either get a positive or you see your practitioner.

Do not drive yourself crazy taking too many pregnancy tests. The costs can add up, even if you are using inexpensive pregnancy tests. There are also mental and emotional costs of seeing a negative pregnancy test are also something to consider. 

If You Continue to Have an Unexplained Negative Pregnancy Test

If you continue to get a negative pregnancy test after a week and you have still not started your period, it is wise to have a physical exam by your doctor or midwife to ensure that you are healthy.

There are other things that can be going on besides pregnancy when it comes to a late period. Your practitioner can help you sort that out with a physical exam.

Seek Help from Your Doctor or Midwife

You may also wish to consult with your midwife or doctor about having a blood pregnancy test drawn. Sometimes there are specific things that only a blood test can tell you. Your medical care team can help you determine how long you should wait to take another pregnancy test or if a blood pregnancy test would be beneficial in your specific case. Not everyone needs a blood pregnancy test, which is also looking for the same hormones. Though there are reasons why you might have a negative test but still have all the symptoms of pregnancy.

Sources:

Avoiding Inappropriate Clinical Decisions Based on False-Positive Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Test Results. Number 278, November 2002 (Reaffirmed 2013). Committee on Gynecologic Practice. 

Er TK, Chiang CH, Cheng BH, Hong FJ, Lee CP, Ginés MA. “False-positive urine pregnancy test in a woman with adenomysosis.” Am J Emerg Med. 2009 Oct;27(8):1019.e5-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2008.12.023. Epub 2009 Sep 22. 

Johnson S, Cushion M, Bond S, Godbert S, Pike J. Comparison of analytical sensitivity and women's interpretation of home pregnancy tests. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2015 Feb;53(3):391-402. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2014-0643.

Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Fifth Edition.

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