Pregnancy test — how soon after sex?

Originally Published: April 18, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 12, 2012
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Dear Alice,

How soon after intercourse can one use a pregnancy test and get results?

Dear Reader,

It depends on the test! Some are sensitive enough that they can detect a pregnancy as early as one week after fertilization. Read the box to find out when your brand of pregnancy test recommends it to be taken. With some tests, it is not necessary to wait until a period is late, but the test is better able to detect pregnancy closer to or after the date of your expected period

When used correctly, home pregnancy tests work well. They also provide privacy and convenience. Home pregnancy tests sometimes give erroneous results (usually false negatives); the most common reason for this is using the test too soon. If a home pregnancy test gives a positive result, make an appointment with your provider or a local women's clinic for a confirmation. Columbia students can call Medical Services at x4-2284 or log in to Open Communicator to make an appointment. For more information on pregnancy tests, check out Planned Parenthood.

If you prefer, you can make an appointment for a pregnancy test directly instead of testing at home first. In either case, it can only be to your benefit to find out as early as possible if you're pregnant.

Alice