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Sex and Relationships

How Soon After Unprotected Sex Can I Test for Pregnancy?

What to do if you find yourself in this situation.

How Soon After Unprotected Sex Can I Test for Pregnancy?

milanvirijevic / Getty Images

Let's be honest: unprotected sex happens, so it's good to know what to do if it results in a pregnancy. To help you understand how soon I can take a pregnancy test after unprotected sex, we turned to Alyssa Wagner, DNP, RN, APRN, WHNP-BC, a board-certified women's health nurse practitioner and head of medical at Hey Jane.

Below, she covers everything from home tests to accurate and potential false negative results, so you know what to expect if you find yourself in this situation.

How soon after unprotected sex can I test for pregnancy?

If you're concerned about pregnancy after having unprotected sex, it's good to have an at-home test. These tests are typically easy to use, and if you receive a positive result, Wagner says that you can contact your healthcare provider.

However, Wagner states that it usually takes about two weeks to get the best result because that's how long the body takes to produce adequate levels of HCG (the hormone that indicates pregnancy). "If you take a pregnancy test too early, you may get a false negative result, which means the test is negative even though you are pregnant," she tells Today's Parent.

Can you be pregnant but too early to test?

Wagner emphasizes that if you test too early for pregnancy, it can lead to inaccurate results. "If the test is taken before the two-week window, there may not be enough of the HCG hormone present in the body to produce a positive result," she says. "Testing in the morning is preferable as urine tends to be more concentrated at that time, increasing the chances of detecting the HCG hormone accurately."

Disappointed girl getting unexpected result from pregnancy test kit. diego_cervo/ Getty Images

What are the very early signs of pregnancy?

The first noticeable sign of pregnancy is usually missing periods, especially if your period is supposed to arrive on time. Other common symptoms include fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, heightened olfactory perception, and potential aversions to certain foods.

FAQs

Do you need to spend a lot of money on a good home test?

There is no need to shell out a significant amount on an expensive test since many digital options offer the same outcome. "You don't have to spend much money on a test," Wagner says. "Generally, it still takes 14 days for the pregnancy to show up, regardless of the test."

What if I get a negative pregnancy test result but still think I might be pregnant?

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Home pregnancy tests may not always provide accurate results if misused or taken too early. If you still suspect you are pregnant even after using an at-home test, you'll want to wait a few days and then retake the test. "The best thing to do if you get a negative result but think you are pregnant is to be patient," Wagner says.

"I know this can be hard, but the HCG hormone doubles every two to three days in early pregnancy, and waiting a few days and repeating the test will likely give you a more accurate result."

Woman looking at a faint line on pregnancy test Photo: iStockphoto

Can I take a blood test to detect pregnancy after unprotected sex?

While a blood test can help confirm pregnancy, Wagner suggests that the preferred method for detecting an early pregnancy is typically through an at-home test." A blood test can indicate pregnancy within a week after conception (or seven days after conception). Still, it may not offer accurate results in determining the health and progression of the pregnancy," she says. "For this reason, waiting for an at-home test is generally considered the best approach."

When should you go to a doctor regarding unprotected sex and pregnancy?

Wagner suggests considering your plans for the pregnancy first before making an appointment. "If you are not planning to become pregnant, I recommend going to your doctor before unprotected sex," she says. "This allows you to discuss your options, such as birth control or having emergency contraceptives on hand, to prevent pregnancy in the first place."

If, however, the pregnancy is intentional, it is still wise to visit a healthcare professional to ensure a well-prepared and healthy pregnancy. "For example, we often recommend patients start prenatal vitamins months before pregnancy to increase their folic acid," she adds.

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Experts:

  • Alyssa Wagner, DNP, RN, APRN, WHNP-BC, a board-certified women's health nurse practitioner and head of medical at Hey Jan
This article was originally published on Nov 10, 2023

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