Pregnancy symptoms: how soon can I know if I am pregnant?

If you have been planning to get pregnant, you probably want to know as soon as possible! But, even people who are not planning to have a baby, may find themselves waiting anxiously to find out at the earliest

For both the groups here are the details:

Pregnancy symptoms are not always present

The most common symptoms of pregnancy are  nausea/vomiting, breast tenderness, urine frequency, and tiredness. But in surveys of pregnant women, only 60 percent of women experienced some symptoms of pregnancy at five to six weeks after the first day of their last menstrual period (LMP).  90 percent women had some symptoms by eight weeks of LMP.

Urine Pregnancy Tests (UPT) can miss early pregnancy , so repeat after one week

On the first day after a missed period, as many as 46 percent of pregnant women will have a negative test. But, almost all pregnant women will have a positive urine pregnancy test one week after the first day of a missed menstrual period

Therefore one should repeat the UPT after one week to rule out pregnancy

Women with irregular cycles or an uncertain LMP generally should wait at least 14 days from a sexual act before obtaining a pregnancy test.

The most sensitive method of detecting hCG is a blood (serum) pregnancy test. Therefore, if you must find out within a week of your missed date, you should get serum hCG (blood test)

Get an ultrasound to confirm a uterine pregnancy

For early pregnancy a TransVaginal (TV) ultrasound is done in which the probe is placed in patients vagina instead of on the abdominal wall. By this technique, earliest sign of pregnancy appear at nearly 5 weeks (a gestational sac). A fetal pole with fetal heart activity can be detected at 5.5 to 6 weeks

We recommend early pregnancy ultrasound for two reasons:

  1. It tells the doctor whether the pregnancy is inside the uterus, or in some cases in the tubes. A tubal pregnancy has a high risk of rupture, which is an emergency. Also, some other causes of raises hCG get ruled out
  2. An early ultrasound allows the calculation of fetal age most accurately. This could become important if any complications develop during the pregnancy

If you are indeed pregnant you can find concise overview article on pregnancy by us. Read : Pregnancy: how your baby grows and your body changes, diet in pregnancy, exercise in pregnancy

If you just had a pregnancy scare and want to avoid it in future read Birth control pill and other contraception choices