Taking Afternoon Pregnancy Test | What You Need To Know

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

You have the option to take a pregnancy test at any point during the day.

However, it’s recommended to take one early in the morning during your first urination due to the high concentration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), especially if you have not yet missed your period.

According to WebMD:

“Some pregnancy tests can spot hCG before you miss a period. But the results will be more accurate if you wait until the first day of a missed period.

Results may also be more accurate if you do the test first thing in the morning when your urine is more concentrated.”

Taking a Pregnancy Test in the Afternoon

You can take a pregnancy test any time of day, especially if you have already missed your period.

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. 

Although a pregnancy test can be taken at any point during the day, taking a pregnancy test using urine from your first bathroom trip of the morning 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. 

How Soon a Pregnancy Test Will 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. 

With one of my pregnancies, the first test I took was done in the afternoon three days before my period was due.

I got a negative result, BUT I tested again first thing in the morning on the day of my missed period, and the result was positive! Timing matters

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. 

Tips for Taking a 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:

  • Wait until you miss your period. Testing before this time might produce a false negative.
  • 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 the same. 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. 
  • Read the results within the given time frame. Checking the test window after the recommended time could lead to an inaccurate understanding of the results (e.g., evaporation line).

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.

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

Understanding HCG Levels 

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

HCG is responsible for establishing placental and embryo development in early pregnancy.

This hormone is detectable through urine a day or two after implantation occurs. 

A home pregnancy test typically consists of a testing strip or a small absorbent tip. This strip is treated with antibodies that specifically react with hCG.

If hCG is present in the urine, it binds to the antibodies on the testing strip.

This binding triggers a chemical reaction on the strip, leading to the appearance of a colored line or symbol. 

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 before beginning to decline steadily.

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. 

This means that as long as there is a detectable amount of hCG present in your urine, you can take a pregnancy test morning, afternoon, or night and receive accurate results.

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. 

What To Do If Test Results Are Positive

The first thing to do after receiving a positive result on your pregnancy test is to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.

They can confirm the pregnancy and begin prenatal care.

Your doctor will likely recommend prenatal vitamins containing folic acid to support the healthy development of the baby’s neural tube.

Depending on your lifestyle and habits, you might need to make certain adjustments.

This may include changes in diet and exercise and avoiding certain substances like alcohol and tobacco that can be harmful to the developing fetus.

Pregnancy can bring about a range of emotions, and it’s important to have emotional support.

Share the news with your partner, family, or friends, and consider joining support groups or seeking counseling if needed.

A woman holding a pregnancy test in her hands above a table.

Frequently Asked 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. 

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. 

Are Pregnancy Tests Accurate?

Home pregnancy tests are approximately 99% accurate when used according to the directions.

False negative and false positive results are possible, but they are rare.

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 negative result in the evening 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.

Will a Pregnancy Test Work if I’m on Birth Control?

Being on birth control will not interfere with the accuracy of a pregnancy test.

Birth control methods, such as pills, patches, injections, or intrauterine devices (IUDs), primarily prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, altering the cervical mucus, or affecting the uterine lining.

They do not interfere with the production of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

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.