Taking Afternoon Pregnancy Test | What You Need To Know

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

Whether it’s the first time you’re taking a pregnancy test or you’re a veteran, the experience is nevertheless nerve-wracking. In any case, you want to ensure that your results are as accurate as possible. 

Can you take a pregnancy test in the afternoon? Yes, you can take a pregnancy test at any time of day. However, it’s recommended to take them early in the morning during your first urination due to the high quantity of human chorionic gonadotropin, otherwise known as hCG. If the test must be taken at another time of day, there are ways to improve test accuracy. 

Read on to learn more about how pregnancy tests work, why you should take them in the morning, and what to do if you can’t.

Best Time of Day To Take a Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy test manufacturers recommend taking a test first thing in the morning, but can pregnancy tests be taken at any other time of day, what should be done, and how does that affect the results? 

Can You Take a Pregnancy Test Any Time of Day? 

Yes, you can take a pregnancy test any time of day. Pregnancy tests contain antibodies coated with a chemical that bonds to hCG, the pregnancy hormone.

So long as there is a detectable amount of hCG in your urine, the test will yield a positive result. 

Why Early Morning Is Recommended for Pregnancy Test

Taking a pregnancy test using urine from your first morning bathroom trip is recommended because it has the highest concentration of hCG.

This is especially important for those choosing to test early, specifically on or around the first day of your due period. 

What Are HCG Levels? 

HCG, otherwise known as human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone released by your body once an egg has been fertilized.

It’s responsible for establishing placental and embryo development in early pregnancy. This hormone is detectable through urine a day or two after implantation occurs. 

Do HCG Levels Fluctuate Throughout the Day?

HCG levels steadily increase over time until progesterone and estrogen take over or the pregnancy is lost. The levels do not fluctuate throughout the day.

The reason that hCG levels seem higher in the morning is simply that there is a higher concentration of the hormone in the urine after withholding all night. 

How HCG Levels Increase

When the egg is fertilized, the body begins producing hCG. HCG levels double every 72 hours until peaking in weeks 8-12 and then beginning to decline steadily. In later weeks, hCG levels increase slower, doubling around every 96 hours.

How Soon Will A Pregnancy Test Read Positive?

HCG is detectable in urine 12-14 days after conception. This means it is usually detectable around the first day of your due period. 

How Long To Hold Urine for Afternoon Pregnancy Test

You should try not to use the bathroom for around four hours prior to taking a pregnancy test in the afternoon. Doing so mimics the hCG quantity found in morning urine, thereby improving result accuracy. 

Can I Take a Pregnancy Test at Night?

Yes, you can take a pregnancy test at any time. If you’re early in your menstrual cycle, you may want to consider waiting until morning as your hCG levels may not be detectable in small quantities.

If you choose to take a pregnancy test in the evening, refrain from using the restroom for about four hours prior to the test to ensure accurate results. 

Can 12 Hours Make a Difference in a Pregnancy Test?

Yes, 12 hours can make a difference in pregnancy tests. HCG levels double every 72 hours, meaning that even after only 12 hours, the increase may be significant enough to be detected.

The earlier in your menstrual cycle you test, the more impactful a 12-hour difference will be. 

Can I Get a Negative Pregnancy Test at Night and Positive in the Morning?

Yes, it is possible to get a different result at night than you do in the morning. Typically, a negative test in the evening is followed by a positive test in the morning.

This occurs because hCG levels rapidly increase and are found in higher concentrations in the urine in the morning. 

A woman looking confused and worried while reading the back of an unopened pregnancy test.

What Should You Not Do Before Taking a Pregnancy Test

You shouldn’t drink an abnormal amount to provoke urination. Drinking excess fluids can dilute the urine, thereby diluting hCG levels. This can skew results and reduce test accuracy. 

Tips for Taking Pregnancy Test

Taking a pregnancy test can be both a stressful and joyous event. Here’s how to make the most of your testing experience:

  • Pick the test that’s right for you. If you prefer a clear-cut and straightforward answer, a digital test is the way to go. If you’re on a budget, a non-digital test may be the better option. 
  • Read the directions. Not all pregnancy tests are created equally. There may be different times needed to soak the test strip or wait for the result. Reading the directions thoroughly and following them precisely is the best way to ensure an accurate result. 
  • Check for expiration. When purchasing a pregnancy test, make sure to check the expiration date. This may be more applicable at smaller stores rather than large retailers.
  • Check your medications. Some medications can cause a false positive pregnancy test. If you are on a medication you believe may influence your test, see a doctor to confirm pregnancy.
  • Don’t drink more than you normally do. Diluted urine could dilute the hCG levels contained within and lead to inaccurate test results. 
  • Use a cup instead of your stream. The cup method is a more controlled way to test. If you are able, pee into a clean cup or small container, and then dip the test rather than holding it in the stream of urine. 

Related Questions:

Can I Take a Pregnancy Test at 4 A.M.?

Yes, pregnancy tests can be taken at any time of day; however, the best time to take a pregnancy test is during the first urination of the morning following a long period of sleep. 

Are False Positive Pregnancy Tests Common?

No, false positive pregnancy tests are not common. Many false positives detect escalated levels of hCG due to pregnancy loss or inviability. Less than 1% of all positives are truly false. 

What Does a Faint Line on a Pregnancy Test Mean?

Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for information on interpreting results. Typically a second line, no matter how faint, indicates pregnancy.

If the line is faint and discolored, it may be an evaporation line, which is not a positive result, but these are not common. 


Pregnancy tests can be taken at any time of day, but they are recommended to be taken first thing in the morning. This is because the initial urination following sleep often has the highest concentration of hCG.

If you must take a pregnancy test at another point in the day, try not to use the bathroom for at least four hours prior. Timing when the pregnancy test is taken is especially important in early detection attempts.