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Sex and young people - Doing a pregnancy test

NHS Choices Feature

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Pregnancy tests detect the presence of the pregnancy hormone in your body. This hormone is called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Find out about when you can do a pregnancy test, and what to do if it's positive.

A pregnancy test is the only way to know for sure whether you're pregnant.

When to do a pregnancy test

Most do-it-yourself pregnancy tests can be carried out on or after the day your next period is due. If you don't know when your next period is due, do the test at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex. Find out more about periods and the menstrual cycle.

If you're pregnant, the amount of HCG in your body rises rapidly in the early days and weeks. A home pregnancy test can detect this in your urine.

You may suspect that you're pregnant because you have certain symptoms, such as:

  • enlarged or tingling breasts
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • dizziness
  • a metallic taste in your mouth
  • a feeling that your period is about to start

However, not every woman has these symptoms. 

Doing a pregnancy test if you're on the Pill

Always take a pregnancy test if you think you might be pregnant, no matter what type of contraception you use or previously used.

Hormonal methods of contraception, such as the combined pill, progestogen-only pillimplants and injections, work by changing a woman's hormone balance. Taking these hormones won't affect the result of a pregnancy test. You can take a pregnancy test if you're using hormonal contraception. The result will still be reliable. If it's positive, this means that you're pregnant.

What's a pregnancy test like?

Most tests come in a small box that contains one or two long sticks. You pee on the stick and the result appears on the stick after a few minutes. All tests are slightly different, so always read the instructions.

The following places provide free pregnancy tests: 

  • GP surgeries
  • community contraceptive clinics ( find sexual health services near you)
  • sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
  • some young people's services (call 0800 567 123)
  • Brook Advisory Centres (for under-25s)
  • some pharmacies

These places provide a confidential service, which means that unless they think you're at risk, they won't tell your parents or carers. This is true even if you're under 16.

Alternatively, you can buy a test from pharmacies or some supermarkets.

Negative pregnancy test results

If you get a negative (not pregnant) result from the pregnancy test but still think you could be pregnant, wait another three days then take another test. It could be that you've taken the test too early. Speak to your GP if you get a negative result after a second test but your period hasn't arrived.

If you're not pregnant, now is a good time to get contraception. See your GP, a community contraceptive clinic, a young persons' clinic, or a sexual health or GUM clinic. Find sexual health services near you.

Positive pregnancy test results

If the test is positive, you're pregnant and you face a big decision. You can continue with the pregnancy or you can have an abortion, which is legal in Great Britain even if you're under 16 years old.

As soon as you find out that you're pregnant, talk to your GP, or a doctor or nurse at your community contraceptive clinic, young persons' service or sexual health clinic.

If you decide to have an abortion, it's safer to do it as early as possible. Most abortions are carried out before 13 weeks of pregnancy. Find out about what to do in abortion: your options. If you decide to continue the pregnancy, you need to start antenatal (pregnancy) care. See your GP.

You can also talk to someone you trust, such as your boyfriend, friends or parents. Or you can learn more about your options through the following organisations:

Marie Stopes has a useful pregnancy questionnaire to help you consider your feelings about being pregnant.

All these services, including community contraceptive clinics, are confidential, so they won't tell your parents. They'll encourage you to talk to your parents, but they won't force you.

Medical Review: September 25, 2013

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