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Why do I have to wait 10 days after sex to take a pregnancy test?

Ten days feels like a long time to someone wondering whether or not they’re pregnant. The simplest answer is ten days is the average time for the fertilized egg to travel to and implant in the uterine lining. Examining the “behind the scene” details might help clarify the answer…

Avenue Women’s Center provides highly accurate, free pregnancy tests to women in Chicagoland. Is now not the right time to be pregnant? Are you concerned about a possible pregnancy? Please call or text us today.

How It All Works – Pregnancy Basics

There are a number of variables involved when pregnancy occurs. First, ovulation – the event when the ovary erupts and an egg is produced – occurs on day 14 of an average menstrual cycle. The average woman’s menstrual cycle takes 28 days. And the day an egg is produced occurs 14 days after the first day of the last menstrual period, or LMP. Keep in mind that this 14-day mark is for the average woman, and that, for some women, ovulation can take place later than day 14. The egg lives 12-24 hours and if not fertilized will eventually dissolve and be flushed away in menstrual flow. Sperm, on the other hand, live 3 days on average. So a woman is most fertile 3 days before ovulation and 24 hours after ovulation. If she has unprotected sex during that time, fertilization may occur.

Once fertilized, the egg is swept down the fallopian tube toward the central cavity of the uterus. This process can take 6-12 days. Once inside the uterus, the egg begins implantation. That is the process of embedding in the thick, development-friendly environment of the uterine lining. This location is where the pregnancy will develop. Once the egg is implanted in the uterine lining, it begins to develop an attachment which will eventually become the placenta. In addition, a hormone known as HCG is produced. It is only when levels of HCG are high enough to be detected in a woman’s bloodstream that it can be evaluated by either a blood test or a urine test. At three weeks of pregnancy (or one week following conception) the range of HCG in normal pregnancy can range from 5-50 mIU/L (a tiny amount, but wide range, in laboratory calculating language).

Why Wait 10 Days for a Pregnancy Test?

Home pregnancy tests are very convenient and common these days. They can be used for detecting the presence of HCG in the urine in the range of 20-25 mIU/L, which is typical for approximately 10 days after conception. But the longer one waits and is closer to the first day of the missed period, the more accurate the test will be.

Taking a home pregnancy test can be confusing or feel isolating. Receive reliable results you can trust in a professional environment. If you’d like to find out for sure if you’re pregnant, Avenue Women’s Center offers free pregnancy tests. Our highly sensitive, lab-quality tests are accurate just 10 days after possible conception. With six centers in DuPage County, we offer convenient, confidential services at no cost. Call, chat, email, or text for an appointment today! 

Guest post by Carla Sebaski, RN

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.

20 responses to “Why do I have to wait 10 days after sex to take a pregnancy test?

  1. Hi, I had sex last Saturday November 6th and he finished inside of me but I have the IUD, even though I have the IUD I have never let a guy finish inside of me before so I have never worried about pregnancy but this week I have been really worried. My period is suppose to start today and I am usually really on schedule but it has not started yet and I am beginning to panic. If I had sex 6 days ago I am assuming it is way to early to take a test but If i miss my period this weekend can I take one on Monday and expect results?

    1. Hi there – I understand your anxiousness! Did your period ever come? If not, we could schedule you to come in for a pregnancy test tomorrow 11/16. Call or text us at the phone number at the top of this page.

      All the best,
      Lindsay, Assistant Director of Client Services

  2. Hi my period is irregular I had sex October 30-31 and took a test on the 16,18,22, and 27th of November they all came back negative but still no period should I worry

    1. Hi Lee, I’m glad you found us! If Oct 30-31 was the last time you could have gotten pregnant, then enough days have passed that over-the-counter tests should be providing accurate results. If you’d like additional peace of mind, we would love to meet with you for a no-cost, medical-grade test in one of our locations!
      You can reach out by texting or calling the number at the top of the page, or use the online scheduler to choose a time and location that works for you!

    1. Hi Jack. I can’t speak to the accuracy information on a First Response test. There is often detailed information included with the test packaging. Our medical-grade, lab-quality tests are accurate just 10 days after possible conception. If you’re in the Chicagoland area and would like to schedule an appointment for a free test, reach out to us at the number on the top of the page.

  3. Hi I had sex on the 16th of January using the withdrawal method I never received a period for the month of January and I have taken a test on February 7, 10, 11, and 13 and they are all negative. Should I still worry. I did start bleeding on the 10th but it is lighter and I am still bleeding some on the 13th.

    1. Hi Parker

      It’s hard to say if this current bleeding is your period or not – typically with that many negative tests, you can feel confident in the results, but if you’re still concerned, we would love to have you come in for a medical-grade, lab-quality test, please call or text us today!

      -Lindsay W, Assistant Director of Client Services

  4. Hey there – I have irregular periods and I had sex on the 14th of March, but am having a lot of symptoms. Fatigue, increased cervical mucus, acne, cramping with blood, headaches, and feeling warm all the time. (I believe my breasts feel heavier and are changing color too, but it’s hard to not think it’s just in my mind) I’ve taken two tests. One today and one 4 days ago and they are negative. Any chance that’s too early to test and I could be pregnant?

    1. Hi Abby! I’m glad you found us. Not knowing the type of tests you took at home makes it hard for me to say… I know that our tests are medical grade and would be able to detect pregnancy by now if you’re concerned you may have become pregnant on 3/14. Ours are 99.5% accurate just 10 days after intercourse. Would you want to schedule an appointment to come in for one? We provide them at no charge at all of our 6 clinics. If so, click this link here to schedule a timeslot that works best for you!
      https://avenuewomenscenter.as.me/pregnancy-test

      Lindsay, Assistant Director of Client Services

  5. Hi ,
    I had unprotected sex on 13th June, took ipill within 24hours, but the pregnancy test which I took next morning was showing positive. I again took a test 2 days later, it was still positive. Is it possible that the test shows positive within 24hours of sex? How much time does the ipill takes to work?

    1. Hi there! I’m not a medical professional, but my understanding is that it is not possible for a test to show a positive result only 24 hours after sex, as explained by the original post. Could you have become pregnant from an encounter more than 10 days ago?
      There are a few kinds of medication that can be used for emergency contraception (pills taken after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy), but they are not intended to end an established pregnancy. A doctor or pharmacist may be able to advise you about the effects of the specific medication you used. If you’d like to talk in person, or follow up on your home tests with a medical-grade test in one of our clinics, please let us know!
      Lisa P., West Chicago Center Director

  6. I had unprotected sex on 22/27 of May, then saw flow of blood like period on 6th of June, bt not like my flow. Lasted 4days, but did a test on 15th of June comes out negative. Is there possiblity of getting positive result later

    1. Hi, thanks for your question! From May 27 to June 15 is over 19 days, so my understanding (not being a medical professional) is that if you had conceived during that week in late May, by mid-June there would be enough pregnancy hormone present to trigger a positive test. However, tests can have different sensitivities, so it’s important to always read the test information to see what YOUR test says about when it produces accurate results. We would love to provide you with a free medical-grade pregnancy test that is over 99% accurate once you are over 10 days from the possible date of conception, if you’re in our area near Chicago.

  7. Hello I had unprotected sex June 15 and 20 me and my boyfriend are trying to have a baby together . When should I be taking a pregnancy test on those days of unprotected sex

    1. Hi there! Most store tests you need to wait until you’ve actually missed your period for them to be accurate, but our medical-grade tests are over 99.5% accurate just 10 days after potential conception. If you are in Chicagoland and are interested in coming in for a test, call or text us today.
      -Lindsay, Assistant Director of Client Services

  8. I got a positive home pregnancy test 10 days after sex I have tested since then and they are all negative. I’m pries I’m not pregnant

    1. Hi Jennifer, that sounds really confusing, I’m glad you found us. Typically once one home test is positive, later tests will be positive as well – the fact that your more recent tests have been negative makes me wonder if the first test was faulty or a false positive? We have a blog post that addresses that situation here, but you’re also welcome to call or text the number on the site to chat with a consultant in person about your situation. Or of course, we’d love to see you for a medical grade test at one of our locations!

  9. hi!
    i had unprotected sex on july 26th, and took a test today (august 6th). the test came out negative but i’m unsure if i’m testing too early or not for an accurate result. is taking a test 10 days post unprotected sex reliable? my period isn’t scheduled to happen for another week or so and they are regular.

    1. Thanks for reaching out! It sounds like you want to make sure your results are accurate, and you’re right- that’s important! I am not a medical professional, and I can’t speak to the accuracy of tests that weren’t taken at Avenue Women’s Center. However, I can tell you that our lab-quality pregnancy tests at Avenue provide accurate results just 10 days after possible conception. Please feel free to call the number at the top of this page to receive a free medical-grade pregnancy test and pregnancy consultation at Avenue Women’s Center!

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