How to Find Out if You're Pregnant

Four Methods:Using a Home Pregnancy TestPaying Attention to Your BodyConfirming Pregnancy at the Dr.'s OfficeDealing with a Positive Test

Whether or not you are actively trying to become pregnant, the possibility of being pregnant can be emotionally overwhelming. It is important to find out if you are pregnant early in your pregnancy so that you can contact a medical provider and make plans for the future. There are several reliable ways to find out whether or not you are pregnant.

Method 1
Using a Home Pregnancy Test

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    Buy a home pregnancy test. These are available over-the-counter at most any pharmacy or grocery store, or online, and are highly accurate when used correctly. There are low-cost versions available at discount stores as well. Home pregnancy tests measure the presence of hCG, also known as the pregnancy hormone.[1]
    • You may want to buy two tests or choose a test with at least two tests per box so you can double-check your results or test again a few days later.
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    Calculate when your period is due. Ideally, you've been keeping track of your periods and fertility using a calendar.[2] Find the date that you started your last period and how many days your entire cycle usually lasts (from the first date of your period to the start of the next period). Use this number to predict when you should start your next period. A late period is one of the first signs of pregnancy. If you are sexually active and it has been more than 30 days since your last period, you may very well be pregnant.
    • For example, if you started your period on the first of January and your cycles usually last 30 days, you should start your next period on the 31st.
    • If you have been tracking your period, know that your most fertile time is usually 8-14 days after the first day of your last period. If you had unprotected sex during this time, you may be pregnant.
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    Consider if you've already missed your period. If your cycle is irregular, it may be more difficult to determine when a missed period indicates a possible pregnancy. You should, however, have a good idea of whether your period is even later than usual. Your period may be irregular if you are a teenager, if you are a breastfeeding mother, or if you are approaching menopause.[3]
    • If you don't track your cycle, think back and try to remember the day your last period started. You might remember an event that you attended while you were menstruating.
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    Determine when to take the test. Many home pregnancy tests claim accurate results even before missing your period, but become increasingly accurate closer to the start of your missed period. Some brands are more sensitive than others, so check your individual test.[4]If in doubt, wait until you've actually missed your period.
    • Plan on taking the test first thing in the morning since the hormone hCG will be the most concentrated.[5]
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    Read and follow the test instructions carefully. Some tell you to urinate in a cup and dip the end of the test in your urine; others say to urinate directly on the test stick or use a dropper to apply the urine sample. After doing so, you will need to wait, often at least a few minutes, and then check the results window.
    • Many brands have a control line to make sure the test worked properly. If the control line doesn't show up, you'll need to try again with a new test.
    • Most brands use a line or plus symbol to indicate that you are pregnant. If this shows up after the required wait, even if it looks very faint, the test is positive. Newer digital tests will display the words "pregnant" or "not pregnant."
    • Be sure to discard the test after the specified time. Most tests say not to try to read test results after 10 minutes, but you will need to read the test instructions to be sure.
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    Retest after a few days. Home pregnancy tests aren't perfect, and false negatives are possible, especially if you are testing in the very first days of your pregnancy. If your first test is negative, wait a few days. If your period doesn't arrive and you still suspect that you may be pregnant, take a second test or go see your doctor.
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    Call your doctor if you get a positive test result. False positives are possible but very unlikely. Some doctors want you to wait until you are 7 to 10 weeks pregnant before coming in to confirm the pregnancy, but you can insist on being seen before that point if you want to.

Method 2
Paying Attention to Your Body

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    Notice any changes in your breasts. Your breasts may increase noticeably in size, feel swollen, or become tender or sore to the touch. The areolas may also appear darker. These subtle changes may signal early pregnancy.[6]
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    Pay attention to changes in your belly or abdomen. Notice if your clothes are fitting differently or if you're bloated. Even before a baby grows significantly, many women begin swelling in the abdomen from fluid, particularly if it is not their first pregnancy. If you think you are pregnant and beginning to “show,” you may already be in the second trimester and you should go to the doctor very soon.[7]
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    Watch for other symptoms. Pregnancy can cause a number of symptoms, which often vary widely from woman to woman. Note that these symptoms are common and may have other causes as well. Some indicators to look out for include:[8]
    • Frequent urination. Even before the baby is putting any weight on your bladder, increased kidney function leads to increased urination.
    • Constipation. Many women find that they are constipated or have bowel movements far less frequently when they are pregnant.
    • Body Aches and fatigue. A general flu-like fatigue is common early in pregnancy. You may find that you don’t have energy to do things that you normally do.
    • Heartburn. Heartburn most often occurs later in pregnancy, but can be present in the first trimester as well. You may find that heartburn is worse after eating spicy or acidic foods.
    • Trouble sleeping. It seems contradictory that someone who is overly tired also has trouble sleeping, but hormonal changes can lead to both sleepiness and sleeplessness. Frequent trips to the bathroom also make sleep difficult.
    • Dizziness. Some women find out that they are pregnant when they unexpectedly faint in a public place. Dizziness can be related to blood pressure, blood sugar, or to sudden temperature changes.
    • Nausea or vomiting, particularly "morning sickness." Morning sickness can happen at any time of day.
    • Changes in sensitivity to some smells. Some women's sense of smell becomes more sensitive in early pregnancy, which can be a difficult when combined with frequent nausea.
    • Changes in appetite. Even if you are not nauseated, you may find that you are more or less hungry than usual. You may also experience unusual food cravings or aversions.
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    Notice your mood. Hormonal changes during early pregnancy can cause mood swings that may be quite radical. If you find yourself crying one minute and laughing the next without a clear reason, it could be due to hormones.[9]
    • These wild changes in emotions are most noticeable in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and then your body begins to adapt to the changing hormones.

Method 3
Confirming Pregnancy at the Dr.'s Office

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    Get a blood test. Doctors can detect hCG, the pregnancy hormone, in the blood about six to eight days after ovulation—sooner than home pregnancy tests can detect it in urine. A blood test may tell you exactly how many weeks pregnant you are based on the detailed hCG levels.[10]
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    Get an ultrasound. Your doctor may confirm your pregnancy with an internal ultrasound. This is a scan that creates a visual representation of sound waves. Later in pregnancy, the ultrasound device will be placed on the outside of your belly, but for early pregnancy detection, a long wand may be inserted into your vagina and placed on your cervix. If you are uncomfortable with the process, be sure to communicate that with your doctor.[11]
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    Get a pelvic exam. When you go to the doctor to confirm a pregnancy, she will likely perform a pelvic exam to check your cervix, uterus, and ovaries If you have never had a pelvic exam, be sure to tell your care provider so that she can talk you through it. While pelvic exams can be a little uncomfortable, they are a necessary part of gynecological health.
    • Your pelvic exam may also include a test for Chlamydia and gonorrhea and a Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer.
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    Talk to your doctor about how you feel about your pregnancy. If your tests come back positive, make sure you have a full conversation with your doctor and make plans to get regular check-ups over the coming months.
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    Make sure your pregnancy is as healthy as possible. Pregnancy is a delicate time for the human body, but it can be managed with proper diet, physical accommodations and medical care.

Method 4
Dealing with a Positive Test

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    Consider your options. You can keep the baby and parent it, give the baby up for adoption, or abort it. Weigh all your options and find someone to talk to who will be supportive of any decision you make.
    • Don't rush into a decision, but be aware that you'll need to make choices before too long.[12]
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    Prepare to talk to your partner about your pregnancy. If your pregnancy is good news, there are lots of fun and memorable ways to tell your partner about your test results. If you don’t think that the news is going to be welcome, think about having a friend or family member there for support.
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    Call your OB/GYN or midwife if you think you may be pregnant or if you had a positive test result. If you do not have an OB/GYN or midwife, you can see your family practice doctor, go to a clinic, or stop by your local health department. You'll need medical care regardless of your decision to keep, adopt, or abort the baby.


  • If you do find out that you are pregnant, it's very important that you go see a doctor right away. We've said that a lot, but having proper medical care when you are pregnant is vital, both for you and the baby.

Article Info

Categories: Pregnancy