Pregnancy testing

You can do a urine test yourself from the first day of your missed period, or three weeks after unprotected sex to test for pregnancy hormones.

Why is this important?

  • if you think you are pregnant, it’s important to find out for certain as soon as possible
  • if you are pleased to be pregnant then you can start receiving antenatal support from your local midwifery service. Your midwife will help to ensure that you and your baby stay healthy during pregnancy, and can answer any questions you have
  • if you are not pleased to be pregnant then finding out early gives you more time to consider your choices.

Who does it affect?

  • you can get pregnant from having vaginal sex without using contraception or condoms, or if your contraception has failed
  • if you have recently had unprotected sex, look at your your emergency contraception options
  • if you have missed a pill, read here for how to stay protected.

Talking to your partner

If you are in a relationship your partner could feel happy, have mixed feelings or be unhappy about the pregnancy, and may find it hard to talk about it. Talking about worries or concerns can be helpful. Talking to family or close friends or a health professional about the pregnancy may also be helpful, although the final decision is always your own.

If you find out you are pregnant, you may want to tell your family and friends immediately, or wait a while until you have sorted out how you feel. Many women wait until they have had their first ultrasound scan, when they're around 12 weeks pregnant, before they tell people.

If you experience nausea or ‘morning sickness’ in the first 12 weeks, you may choose to tell a close family member or friend to help you through the days when you feel very sick.

How it works

Some people can tell that they’re pregnant because they feel different. For example, they might feel sick, experience mood swings, tender breasts, or they miss a period. But not everyone experiences symptoms of pregnancy.

The only way to know if you are pregnant is to take a pregnancy test.

Pregnancy tests usually involve peeing on a small plastic stick, or into a clean cup and dipping in a test stick. The result will usually appear within a few minutes. Always read the instructions first.

The test:

  • pregnancy tests detect the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) which starts to be produced around six days after fertilisation
  • you can do pregnancy tests from the first day of a missed period, or three weeks after unprotected sex
  • you can do a pregnancy test on your urine collected at any time of the day.

The results:

  • a positive test result is almost certainly correct. A negative result is less reliable and you may want to try again in a week’s time, or see your GP if you think there is a chance that you are pregnant.
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More support

Where to go

There are lots of places where you can get a pregnancy test for free and receive support- a sexual health clinic, your GP or a family planning clinic.

This might also be a good time to talk to someone about contraception options, if you weren't trying to get pregnant.

If you're under 16, health professionals won't tell your parents. They'll encourage you to talk to your parents, but they won’t force you to.

You can buy pregnancy tests from a chemist or supermarket, for £3- £10. If you are doing the test yourself make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

What to do next

If you find out you're pregnant, you may feel happy and excited, or shocked, worried and upset.

Talk to your GP, midwife or talk to a health professional if you feel anxious. They can help you to understand what is happening to your body, or can give you advice if you don't want to continue with your pregnancy.

If you are pregnant you have options. You can;

  • continue with the pregnancy
  • continue with the pregnancy, and arrange for the baby to be adopted
  • have an abortion to medically terminate your pregnancy.

Questions?

No, emergency contraception is not effective at this stage.

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Yes. Hormonal methods of contraception, such as the contraceptive pill, implants and injections, contain the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. They work by changing a woman's hormone balance. However, these hormones will not affect the result of a pregnancy test.

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No, pregnancy tests are now so accurate that you can do them on urine from any time of the day.

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It takes three weeks from the time that you became pregnant to the time that the pregnancy test is positive. A negative test may mean that it is too early in the pregnancy for the test to be positive.

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You will have to pay for pregnancy tests at pharmacies (they may cost between £3- £10), but you do not need to give any personal details.

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A physical sign is an increase in vaginal discharge, which changes from white, creamy or non-existent to clear, stretchy and slippery when you ovulate. Some people can feel pain during ovulation, ask your GP if you are concerned about this.

You may also notice other signs, such as:

  • breast tenderness
  • bloating
  • mild abdominal pain
  • increased body temperature
  • increased sex drive.

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