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Pregnancy and baby

Doing a pregnancy test

Is the pregnancy test accurate?

Media last reviewed: 20/03/2014

Next review due: 20/03/2017

When you can do a pregnancy test

You can carry out most pregnancy tests from the first day of a missed period. If you don't know when your next period is due, do the test at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex.

Some very sensitive pregnancy tests can be used even before you miss a period, from as early as eight days after conception.

You can do a pregnancy test on a sample of urine collected at any time of the day. It doesn't have to be in the morning.  

Where you can get a pregnancy test

You may be able to get a pregnancy test free of charge from your GP. The following places provide free pregnancy tests:

  • community contraceptive clinics – find sexual health services near you 
  • sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
  • some young people's services – call the national sexual health helpline on 0300 123 7123 for details
  • Brook centres – for under-25s 

You can also buy pregnancy testing kits from pharmacists and some supermarkets. They can give a quick result and you can do the test in private.

How does a pregnancy test work?

All pregnancy tests detect the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which starts to be produced around six days after fertilisation.

Most pregnancy tests come in a box that contains one or two long sticks. You pee on the stick and the result appears on the stick after a few minutes. All tests are slightly different, so always check the instructions.

Pregnancy test results

A positive test result is almost certainly correct. A negative result is less reliable. If you get a negative result and still think you're pregnant, wait a few days and try again. Speak to your GP if you get a negative result after a second test but your period hasn't arrived.

Continuing with the pregnancy

If you're pregnant and want to continue with the pregnancy, contact your GP or a midwife to start your antenatal care. You can use the pregnancy due date calculator to work out when your baby is due.

If you're not sure you want to be pregnant

If you're not sure about continuing with the pregnancy, you can discuss this confidentially with a healthcare professional. Your options are:

  • continuing with the pregnancy and keeping the baby 
  • having an abortion
  • continuing with the pregnancy and having the baby adopted

As well as a GP or a nurse at your GP surgery, you can also get accurate, confidential information – even if you're under 16 – from the following:

All these services – including community contraceptive clinics – are confidential. If you're under 16, the staff won't tell your parents. They'll encourage you to talk to your parents, but they won't force you. 

If you're under 25 and would prefer advice specifically for young people, the sexual health charity Brook provides a range of services for young people. The Brook website contains information on pregnancy choices. You can also use the Ask Brook text and web chat service.

Page last reviewed: 19/11/2015

Next review due: 19/11/2017

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