Positive Pregnancy Test: When and How Long After Implantation

Positive Pregnancy Test: When and How Early After Implantation?
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A pregnancy test can show a positive result a few days after implantation has occurred. Most women who want to get pregnant are very keen to take a home pregnancy test (HPT) to see if the result is positive. Depending on your body and the levels of hCG hormone, early pregnancy can be detected by a pregnancy blood test as soon as 3-4 days after implantation. Usually, a urine home pregnancy test takes a few days longer to detect a pregnancy and may show a positive result as soon as 5-7 days after implantation.

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Even if the home pregnancy test result is negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not pregnant. How soon an early pregnancy can be detected depends on the levels of the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is produced during pregnancy. Blood and urine pregnancy tests check for elevated levels of hCG which start to rise right after implantation. A positive urine home pregnancy test will undoubtedly mean that you are pregnant and should visit your doctor for hCG blood test.

Most home urine pregnancy test kits advise that you should wait until the first day of your missed period before taking the test. This is when levels of hCG will usually be high enough for the majority of pregnancy testing kits to show a positive pregnancy result if you have conceived. However, some urine pregnancy testing kits are more sensitive and may be able to show a positive result and detect early pregnancy quite soon after implantation.

If you have already waited for a few days after your missed period to take a pregnancy test, and it is still negative, chances are that you are not pregnant.

You may want to take a pregnancy test, but you probably have questions such as: How long after implantation can I test? How long do I have to wait after a missed period before I take a test? In this article, you will find out how early you can detect pregnancy using at-home pregnancy testing kits. You will also learn about the other early signs of pregnancy that can help determine if implantation has taken place.

How Long After Implantation You Need to Take a Pregnancy Test

How early you can take a pregnancy test depends on a number of factors such as the sensitivity of the home pregnancy test (HPT), levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your body, and the regularity of your menstrual cycle.

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A pregnancy test can only become positive when an egg is fertilized after ovulation. According to the American Pregnancy Association, ovulation happens about 11 to 21 days from the start of your last period.1 At ovulation, an egg is released and lives for up to 24 hours in the fallopian tubes waiting for a sperm that lives long enough to fertilize it. Some signs of ovulation include discharge, light abdominal cramping, and some ovulation spotting.

When the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of your uterus, implantation occurs. As soon as implantation happens, your body produces hCG and the pregnancy hormone can be detected in a pregnancy test. At the same time, you may have other signs of implantation such as light spotting that lasts a day or two, mild cramping, tender breasts, and an increased need to pee.

The length of time after implantation you need to take a pregnancy test to check if it’s positive or not depends on the sensitivity of the pregnancy test that is carried out. The two types of pregnancy tests to check for early pregnancy are:

  • Urine hCG pregnancy test kits that you use at home and show up a mark to indicate a positive pregnancy test or a negative test result.
  • Pregnancy blood tests at the doctor’s office to check for hCG in blood serum in order to detect a pregnancy.

Urine hCG test – when is it positive after implantation?

Some of the most sensitive urine pregnancy test kits can detect early pregnancy in less than a week after implantation. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, found that urine pregnancy testing kits will usually show a positive result 3-4 days after implantation. By 7 days (the time of the expected period) 98% of pregnancy testing kits will be positive.13

Urine pregnancy test kits have an hCG sensitivity of 25 mlU/ml (sensitivity of 25 units per litre). The American Pregnancy Association say that a reading of more than 25 mIU/ml in urine indicates pregnancy.2

The levels of hCG are detectable a few days after implantation. For example, a report published in a German medical journal said that sensitive pregnancy testing kits can detect hCG as early as 4 days or even 10 days before your next period is due.3

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According to Dr. Nivin Todd on WebMD, implantation occurs 3-4 days after the egg is fertilized. This may result in implantation bleeding which can be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Dr. Todd says that hCG levels will show up in most urine tests from as early as 7 days before you expect your next period.4

Sometimes, urine home pregnancy tests show up “false-negative” results because not enough hCG hormone has been detected yet. This means that you could still be pregnant even though the pregnancy test shows up as negative. However, in a few days, the pregnancy test will become positive in women if implantation has taken place.

You can test for pregnancy using a urine pregnancy test as early as a week before your next period is expected. Even if the results are negative, you shouldn’t lose hope. Take another urine pregnancy test after 5-7 days to see if it becomes positive. According to Lab Tests Online, if you are pregnant, an early positive urine pregnancy test will be reliable 10 days after your missed menstrual period.5

Blood hCG Level and early pregnancy test

A pregnancy blood test will be positive 2 or 3 days before a urine pregnancy test. Pregnancy blood tests check the levels of the hCG hormone and they are more accurate than urine pregnancy tests as they can show the exact levels of hCG.

Doctors also use hCG levels to determine how many weeks you are pregnant and to monitor your health during pregnancy.

A blood pregnancy test will become positive very soon after implantation. According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, positive pregnancy blood test result can show up as early as one week after conception. Because implantation happens 3-4 after conception, you might get early pregnancy blood test results that are usually positive within 3 or 4 days after implantation.6

In very rare circumstances, you might have a “false-positive” pregnancy test result. Dr. Stöppler says that medication, tumors, or other conditions can show up as a positive pregnancy test when there is, in fact, no pregnancy.

Pregnancy Test Soon After Implantation – How Accurate Is It?

A positive pregnancy test is almost certainly correct and is usually very accurate. However, you always need to follow the instructions of the home pregnancy test correctly.

Doctors from the National Health Service say that if the pregnancy test results are positive, then you are probably pregnant. However, a negative test result is less accurate and isn’t necessarily an indicator that you’re not pregnant. Sometimes, taking the pregnancy test too soon after implantation doesn’t allow for high enough levels of hCG hormone to develop.7

Pregnancy tests can show a positive result when the concentration of the pregnancy hormone (hCG) is high enough to be detected in a blood test or urine sample.

According to Dr. Traci Johnson on WebMD, there are 6 factors that can affect how accurate a pregnancy test is soon after implantation. Some of these are:8

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  1. When the urine test was taken. It is usually recommended to take the test first thing in the morning. This is because the concentration of hCG will be higher and makes a positive pregnancy result more likely.
  2. When you ovulate. Each woman’s menstrual cycle is different and ovulation may not always happen exactly when planned. Although the average time of ovulation is mid-cycle, your body can release an egg as soon as day 11 of your cycle and as late as day 21.
  3. When implantation happens. It can be difficult to know exactly when implantation happens. A fertilized egg takes between 6 to 12 days after ovulation to implant itself in the uterine lining.1
  4. How soon after implantation you take the test. There needs to be enough concentration of hCG for a positive pregnancy test result. It may take time for pregnancy test results to become positive if you have successfully conceived.
  5. The sensitivity of the pregnancy test. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that some pregnancy testing kits are more sensitive than others. Therefore, some may require a higher amount of pregnancy hormone hCG to show a positive pregnancy test result.9
  6. Blood and urine hCG levels. There are also various factors that can affect pregnancy hormone levels. For example, if you drink too much fluids, you might not get a positive pregnancy reading when taking a urine test soon after implantation.

The European Journal of Epidemiology says that smoking and being overweight can also negatively affect hCG levels. This makes it harder to test for early signs of pregnancy soon after implantation.10

However, if you are pregnant, then pregnancy test result is usually positive within 7-10 days after you have missed a period.

How to Test for Pregnancy Soon After Implantation

Most women use at-home urine pregnancy test kits because they are cheaper and quicker than making an appointment with your doctor for a pregnancy blood test. These will test positive for pregnancy when hCG levels reaches at least 25 mIU/ml.

To use a urine pregnancy test soon after implantation to check if it tests positive, this is what you should do:

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  1. Wash your hands with water and soap.
  2. Remove the testing kit from its packaging and sit on the toilet seat.
  3. Depending on the type of test, you either need to urinate on the testing stick or into a small plastic cup.
  4. The urine sample should be from midstream, so you should pee a little before collecting urine in the cup or placing the stick in the urine stream.
  5. If you are using the urine collection method to test for pregnancy, follow the instructions on using the dropper.
  6. Now, it’s time to wait. The best thing is to do something to distract yourself for the 5 minutes or so it takes the test to show positive or negative.
  7. Check the results.

What do Pregnancy Test Results Mean After Implantation?

Positive pregnancy results usually mean that you are pregnant. Most home pregnancy testing kits show the results by means of a line to indicate a positive or a negative result. Dr. Traci Johnson on WebMD says that even if the line for a positive pregnancy test result is very faint, it still means you are pregnant.8

If your pregnancy test is positive, then it means that you should make an appointment to see your doctor. The earlier you can arrange for prenatal care, then the better health you and your baby will enjoy during pregnancy.

Negative pregnancy results may not necessarily mean that implantation hasn’t happened. You could still be pregnant because you tested too soon after implantation or you took the test the wrong way. Dr. Traci Johnson recommends retesting for a positive result in a week to check for pregnancy.

If the HPT still tests negative over 10 days after your missed period, you should speak to your doctor. A late or missed period could be a result of a hormonal imbalance as well as emotional stress, excessive weight loss or gain and problems with pelvic organs.12

Early Signs of Pregnancy Very Soon After Implantation

Even before an hCG pregnancy test becomes positive, you may have some signs of implantation that show up before a pregnancy test confirms that you are pregnant.

Implantation spotting. Many women experience implantation spotting as one of the earliest pregnancy signs. Implantation bleeding looks like very light spotting that could be a rusty brown or light pink color. Spotting associated with implantation usually last up to 2 days.

Implantation cramping. Around the time when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining you might experience mild cramping. Implantation cramping usually happens just before or just after you notice implantation spotting.

Breast tenderness. Doctors from the American Pregnancy Association say that your breasts may become sore when implantation happens. In fact, your breasts may appear swollen and tender even as early as 1 to 2 weeks after conception.11

Other signs of implantation or early pregnancy that you might notice before a pregnancy test tests positive are frequent urination, food aversions or cravings, backaches and headaches, and mood swings.

If you notice these signs of pregnancy, and you know that you had intercourse around the time of ovulation, you should take a home pregnancy test. If the results are negative, they may become positive several days later as pregnancy hormone (hCG) increases.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. AmericanPregnancy. Understanding ovulation.
  2. AmericanPregnancy. Human chorionic gonadotropin.
  3. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2014 Jul; 74(7): 661–669.
  4. WebMD. Pregnancy and conception.
  5. LabsTestOnline. hCG pregnancy.
  6. MedicineNet. How do you know if you’re pregnant.?
  7. NHS. How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
  8. WebMD. Pregnancy tests.
  9. MayoClinic. Home pregnancy tests.
  10. Eur J Epidemiol. 2015; 30(9): 1057–1066.
  11. AmericanPregnancyAssociation. Early pregnancy symptoms.
  12. WebMD. Missed or Irregular Periods.
  13. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Pregnancy tests: a review.
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