How Soon Can A Doctor Tell If You’re Pregnant: The Early In-Office Blood And Urine Pregnancy Tests You Can Take

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How Soon Can A Doctor Tell If You're Pregnant?
How Soon Can A Doctor Tell If You’re Pregnant

How Soon Can A Doctor Tell If You’re Pregnant?

If you’re wondering how soon can a doctor tell if you’re pregnant, the answer is about 6 to 8 days after you ovulate, or days past ovulation (DPO).  Knowing exactly when you ovulated helps to detect early pregnancy.  Figure out how how to calculate days past ovulation here.

The main types of pregnancy tests that your healthcare provider will use are blood and urine tests. 

Although blood tests can tell if you are pregnant sooner than urine tests, the type of test your doctor will order will be based on your medical history.  

Unless you have a medical reason, most doctors will only do a urine test after your missed period.  

Pregnancy test on counter at doctors office. How soon can a doctor tell if you're pregnant?
How Soon Can A Doctor Tell If You’re Pregnant?

So, if you’re really eager to know if you are pregnant there are at-home tests that you can take to tell you if you are pregnant or not. 

Want to know exactly how soon you can take a pregnancy home test?  I’ll tell you exactly when in this article

Detecting pregnancy early on via these diagnostic tests helps pregnant women get the prenatal care that they need (like prenatal vitamins) and helps accurately determine the baby’s due date. Some important tests, like the 13-week ultrasound, are time-specific, so getting an early pregnancy test is important.

I’ll walk you through how each test works and when a doctor might order them. 

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

All pregnancy tests (blood and urine) actually work the same way. 

They are screening tests to check for the pregnancy hormone: human chorionic gonadotropin (or hCG).  

HCG is only released in the body after the fertilized egg implants in the wall of the uterus. 

In the very early days after conception, the amount of hCG found in your urine and blood is so small that the tests cannot detect it.  

As the baby grows, your body releases more and more hCG.

Meaning, if you take a pregnancy test too early you might get a false negative. 

An at-home pregnancy test is going to be most accurate the day after your missed period.  

A doctor might want to do a blood test at 6 to 8 days past ovulation if there is a medical reason to do so. 

Pregnancy Blood Test

Two vials of blood pregnancy blood test
Pregnancy Blood Test

The difference between blood and urine tests is that blood tests can usually detect hCG before a urine test. 

Urine tests are also called qualitative tests, meaning they only check to see if the hormone is present or not. 

Urine tests only give you a “yes” or a “no” answer.  

A blood test is a quantitative blood test, meaning it can tell the exact level of hCG hormone that is in the blood.  Sometimes this information is important in early pregnancy. 

A pregnancy blood test can only be ordered by your health care provider. 

There are no at-home pregnancy blood tests.  

A blood test (also called beta hCG test) is a more sensitive test to measure the exact amount of hCG in your blood, these tests can detect very small amounts of the pregnancy hormone, so they can usually tell if you are pregnant sooner than a urine test. 

When To Get A Pregnancy Blood Test

What Pregnancy Test Should You Take? Blood Or Urine?
What Pregnancy Test Should You Take?

Blood tests are more invasive and costly than urine tests, so most doctors don’t routinely do them just to check for pregnancy (although some practices do, so don’t worry if that’s standard at your doctor’s office). 

A doctor will look at your medical history, previous pregnancies, and your risk factors to determine whether a blood hCG test is necessary.  

If you have undergone fertility treatments, have a history of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancies, or have another health problem that might make your pregnancy high-risk your medical provider will likely order a blood test.  

Pregnancy Blood Test Results

If your doctor orders a blood pregnancy test, you will give a blood sample and it will be sent to the lab to test your hormone levels and see how much hCG is present. 

While urine pregnancy test results are ready in 5 minutes or less, blood test results can take 24 hours or longer.  

In addition to telling you if you’re pregnant or not, the results of your blood test can tell your doctor a lot more than a urine test.  

If you have a high level of hCG in your blood you could: 

  • Have gotten your conception date wrong and you are farther along than you think. 
  • Have a molar pregnancy
  • Be having multiple babies. 

If you have a low level of hCG in your blood you could: 

  • Have gotten your conception date wrong and you are not as far along as you think. 
  • Have an ectopic pregnancy
  • Have a blighted ovum
  • Be having a miscarriage. 

If your blood test results are concerning your doctor will likely have you do blood test checks every 48-72 hours.  This is because your hCG should double within this time period and will tell your doctor if things are progressing normally.  

Your doctor might also do additional tests like an ultrasound or pelvic exam.

Pregnancy Urine Tests

Home pregnancy digital pregnancy test pregnant
Home Pregnancy Digital Pregnancy Test

Urine tests can be done at home with a home pregnancy test kit or can be done at the doctor’s office.  

Wherever you do the test, the process is the same.  You either collect a small urine sample in a cup and dip the pregnancy test in it, or you place the test directly in your urine stream.  

The strip detects the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone just like a blood test. 

Waiting for the results can take up to 5 minutes.  

Urine pregnancy tests are very accurate after your missed period.

At Home Urine Pregnancy Tests

If you’re eager to know whether you are pregnant or not, a First Response Early Results pregnancy test can tell you if you are pregnant as early as 6 days before your missed period (about the same as a blood test).  

These early result home tests are not as accurate as a pregnancy test that is taken after your missed period.  

This means you could get a false negative result 6 days before your missed period.  The closer you get to your period, the more accurate the results become.  

So, feel free to keep testing all the way up until your missed period mama! 

If you get a negative result after your missed period and still suspect you are pregnant, you should follow up with your doctor.  

OBGYN doing ultrasound on pregnant women. How soon can a doctor tell if you're pregnant?
How Soon Can A Doctor Tell When You’re Pregnant?

In-Office Urine Pregnancy Tests 

Urine pregnancy tests done at your doctor’s office are actually the same as the ones you would do at home! 

Why would you need to do an in-office pregnancy test then?  

Well, reading pregnancy tests can be tricky.  

If you read the results too soon the test might not have had enough time to develop and would give you a false negative result.  

If you read the results too late you might get what is known as an evaporation line.  This will give you a false-positive result.  

To avoid false positives and false negatives at home, it is really important to read the directions on your pregnancy test (they all have a little bit different instructions).  

Doctors know that at-home pregnancy tests have these problems, so they repeat the test in-office at your first visit to confirm whether you are pregnant or not.  

Other Pregnancy Diagnostic Tools

Once your doctor confirms your pregnancy with a blood test or a urine test, they will schedule your first prenatal appointment.  

Your first prenatal visit takes place during your first trimester, usually between 8 and 12 weeks of pregnancy.  

Your doctor will do a physical exam, usually including a pelvic exam, to check the uterus and cervix.  

Finally, you will likely have a series of transvaginal and transabdominal ultrasounds throughout your pregnancy to make sure things are progressing correctly. 

Once you hit the halfway mark of your pregnancy, your doctor’s visits, ultrasounds, and testing will start to increase until the end of your pregnancy. This is to monitor you and your child as you get farther along in your pregnancy.