Pregnancy testing

If you think you might be pregnant it’s important to find out for sure as soon as you can. The only way to know for certain is to take a test.

A pregnancy test that you pee on will give you an accurate result if taken at least 3 weeks (21 days) after your pregnancy risk or at the time of your missed period.

Finding out early means that if you are pregnant and want to continue the pregnancy, you can start taking the recommended supplements and getting antenatal support from a midwife service right away. This will help you have a healthy pregnancy.

If you’re not sure how you feel about being pregnant, finding out early gives you more time to consider your options.

Possible signs of pregnancy

Missed or late periods

A missed or late period is a helpful sign. But it’s not a reliable way of knowing if you’re pregnant.

You can sometimes get a period-like bleed even if you are pregnant, so it’s important to take a pregnancy test to know for sure.

Breast tenderness, nausea, unusual tiredness or food cravings

Some people find, in early pregnancy, that their breasts are sore, they feel sick or unusually tired. Things can smell stronger or different to usual or they feel differently about foods or drinks – either craving them or being put off by them.

There can be other reasons for these symptoms, so if you do experience them we recommend doing a pregnancy test.

Getting a test

You can get a pregnancy test for free – and talk to someone if you need support – at your local sexual health clinic, a family planning clinic or your GP.

You can buy reliable pregnancy tests from pharmacies and supermarkets, as well as some other high street stores. You can take these tests in private, at home.

If you’re doing the test yourself make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

How does the test work?

A pregnancy test usually involves peeing on a plastic stick, or into a cup that the test strip can be dipped in.

The test looks for the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin). This is produced by the cells around the fertilised egg in very early pregnancy.

The hormone starts to be produced around 6 days after fertilisation. It'll show up on tests from the first day of your missed period, or 3 weeks after sex. It doesn’t matter what time of day you do the test, but you’ll need to be sure 3 weeks have passed to be sure of the result.

A positive test result is usually correct. A negative result is less reliable. You might want to test again a week later or see your GP if you think there’s still a chance you’re pregnant.

If the result is positive

Finding out you're pregnant can be very emotional, and you might be unsure about your next steps. Talking to your GP or someone at your local clinic can help you understand your options and get the support you need, whatever you decide to do.

If want to continue with the pregnancy, contact your GP or a local midwife service to start your antenatal care.

If you do not want to be pregnant, you can talk about this confidentially with a healthcare professional. Talk to your GP or someone at your local clinic and they can connect you with the care you need.

They'll help you understand what is happening to your body, or can give you advice if you don't want to continue with your pregnancy.

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