How to know when you are pregnant

How do you know whether you're pregnant or not? If you've been trying to get pregnant, there are a few ways to find out whether you're pregnant.

Early pregnancy symptoms

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it might be an early sign of pregnancy and a good idea to take a pregnancy test.

•      Late period
•      Extreme tiredness
•      Need to wee more often
•      Nausea
•      A metallic taste in your mouth
•      Sensitivity to smells
•      Tender or sore breasts.

Are you ready to conceive? Try our free healthcheck

How do pregnancy tests work?

Pregnancy tests work by detecting one of the key early signs of pregnancy: a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). This hormone is only made when a woman is pregnant.

Traces of hCG can be found in the urine from three to four days after implantation, but the concentration needs to continue to build up to a level at which the test can detect it and give a positive result. The best time to take a pregnancy test is from the day that the period is missed. 

Where can I get a pregnancy test?

GP pregnancy test

These tests are either free or a small fee is charged.

You’ll need to take a sample of your urine in a clean container (you can get sample pots from your GP’s surgery). The best time to collect a urine sample is first thing in the morning. This is because levels of hCG will have built up overnight.

If the urine sample is tested on the spot, you probably will be given the result after just a few minutes. You may have to wait up to a few days for the pregnancy test results though.

Home pregnancy test

These tests are available to buy from chemists or supermarkets and enable you to find out if you are pregnant in private after a few minutes.

The tests are considered to be quite accurate, although it is essential that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Choose a kit that you think will be easy for you to use and make sure that you understand what mark or symbol will appear if the test is positive.

Find out more about taking a pregnancy test.

How accurate is the pregnancy test?

It is important to know that whilst a positive result is likely to be accurate, a negative result may be misleading. Some women have a negative result and test again a week later to find that it is positive.

This is due to the levels of pregnancy hormone gradually building up to a level at which they can be detected. If you test yourself very early on and you have a negative result, you should carry out another test in 2-3 days’ time if you have still not had a period.

If you continue to get negative results and still no period, you should consult your doctor.

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What should I do if I am pregnant?

Once you get a positive pregnancy test, make an appointment to see your doctor or a midwife.

Tell the doctor’s surgery when you are making the appointment that you have had a positive pregnancy test result as you might need a longer appointment.


  1. Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ midwifery, 14th edition, London Balliere Tindall
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Your stories of planning for pregnancy

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    Hayley, 27, and Sam, 28, a barista from Lincolnshire knew their health conditions would make conception a challenge. But they didn’t give up. Following fertility treatment, they now have a daughter, Amaryllis. This is their story.

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    Claire Gale, 30, and husband Mark, 32, from Bournemouth always wanted a family. Last year and 8 weeks into her pregnancy, Claire miscarried, but she trusted her body to tell her when it was time to try again for a baby.

  • Lauren with her baby Cherry


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    Lauren, 33, from Essex, and her husband Victor, 33, struggled to conceive and endured a miscarriage and pre-eclampsia before they had their beautiful daughter Cherry.

    Last reviewed on June 13th, 2017. Next review date June 13th, 2020.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Nov 2018 - 16:26

      Hi- Thank you for your message.
      If you have had unprotected intercourse, please carry out a pregnancy test.

    • By Tracey (not verified) on 11 Nov 2018 - 21:00

      Hello I am now 4 weeks late and have done over 12 pregnancy tests various brands and still negative but I feel odd.
      My period has never ever been late even when I have had a lot of stesss in my life.
      My doctor has referred me to the fertility clinic and told me to sit tight and keep testing as he thinks I might be pregnant.
      Can anyone advice what the chances are now after 4 weeks of negative tests.? Thank you

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Nov 2018 - 12:21

      Hi Tracey
      Your doctor can do a blood test to look for HCG levels (the pregnancy hormone) as some women do not get accurate results from urine pregnancy tests. Blood tests are the most accurate.
      It is good that you have been referred on for further gynae review though too,as if pregnancy is ruled out via the blood test, then it is important that they look in to why your period is so late at this time. Stress can affect your menstrual cycle, but there can be many other causes for this too- which would need further review.
      All the best - tommy's Midwife

    • By Alyssa (not verified) on 5 Nov 2018 - 15:34

      I had unprotected sex quite a lot in August and I’m rubbish at taking my pill. Did a pregnancy a few pregnany tests some were faint postive and negative so I left it and took it as a negative but I took another test yesterday (haven’t had unprotected sex since August) and it looks quite positive. Could I be pregnant? Low hcg? Or the positive test line is just showing? I’m so confused can this happen?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Nov 2018 - 16:16

      Hi Alyssa
      If you have not taken your pill correctly and have had numerous unprotected sexual encounters, then it is likely that you are pregnant. You should go to your GP surgery as soon as possible and they can repeat the test for you there, as you have had both positive and negative test results. They can test for pregnancy by urine test strips or by blood test. Take care,Tommy's Midwife

    • By Beth (not verified) on 4 Nov 2018 - 21:10

      I have been taking the pill for over a year now but I had unprotected sex 4 weeks ago on a day where I forgot to take my pill and missed it for the next 3 days and since then I've been busy and I keep on forgetting to take it.. I've recently had a weird metallic type taste in my mouth, had lingering feeling of sickness for the past week .. is it possible?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Nov 2018 - 14:30

      Hi Beth
      Yes it is possible. You have not been taking your pill, which prevents pregnancy, and you have had unprotected sex. So please take a pregnancy test. All the best. Tommy's Midwife

    • By Ada (not verified) on 21 Dec 2018 - 19:44

      She see her period on 22 last mouth and up till now she never see her period is she pregnant?

    • By Abena (not verified) on 29 Oct 2018 - 08:35

      I had my period 27 September and today is 29october and still no sign of my period yet I have a severe abdominal pain.... Can it be that am pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Oct 2018 - 12:16

      Hi Abena
      You will need to do a pregnancy test to be sure, especially if you have had unprotected intercourse since your last period. We usually recommend doing a pregnancy test when your period is at least 7 days late as this will give you the most accurate result- whether it is positive or negative.
      Take care - Tommy's midwife

    • By marcela cela (not verified) on 2 Nov 2018 - 22:56

      I notice some signs of pregnancy but test pregnacy stl come negative

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Nov 2018 - 14:37

      Hi Marcela
      It is usually best to wait until 7 days after your missed period to take a pregnancy test. Do it first thing in the morning, with the first wee of the day for the most accurate result- positive or negative. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Oluchi (not verified) on 28 Oct 2018 - 21:19

      I saw my menses on 7 of sept i had sex on 25 an i pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Oct 2018 - 12:13

      Hi Oluchi
      You would need to do a pregnancy test to be sure of this - it has been a number of weeks since your last period and if this has not arrived yet this month, then it would be sensible to test to find out for sure.
      Good luck Tommy's Midwife

    • By Susan (not verified) on 26 Oct 2018 - 20:40

      I had unprotected sex on 5 October..... N after 3 days I had a vaginal infection... it was itching and burning.... and 2 weeks later I had my period ... But like spotting ... N even blood clots for 1 day.... N my period lasted for 5 days..... can I be pregnant??.... please give me a answer ..... thank u

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Oct 2018 - 12:09

      Hi Susan
      Any unprotected intercourse does put you at risk of pregnancy - planned or unplanned. However ,because you had your period after the intercourse, then it is not possible for you to be pregnant from this time.
      Please do use contraception to protect yourself from STI's as well as unplanned pregnancies for your own health in future.
      All the best - Tommy's Midwife

    • By Lydia (not verified) on 25 Oct 2018 - 10:41

      I started my period on 22nd september to 26th and I expected my period on 20th October but no period yet.i have small breast pain,I pee frequently, I feel cold in the afternoons,I feel hungry in the middle of the night and I have a small line on my stomach. My mouth is bitter all the time and I have heartburns

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 Oct 2018 - 14:08

      Hi Lydia, Thank you for your comment.
      If you have been having unprotected sex and you have missed your period then there is every chance that you may be pregnant. Please take a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant, you can buy tests from any pharmacy or your GP or sexual health clinic should be able to do one for you as well. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By L (not verified) on 25 Oct 2018 - 07:22

      I had unprotected sex in September once, but I don't know if he ejaculated. No protection. My periods are irregular half the time. But they started being steady every month up until that point. Around the time I was supposed to start my period I bled a little bit of red blood, more like spotting and then it stop the same night. Almost a week later the same thing happened. But no.full on period. I've been feeling pressure/heaviness/tightness on my lower stomach and my body been feeling a little off and my lower back has been hurting on and off. I tested a lil over a week ago but came back negative.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 Oct 2018 - 14:00

      Hi L, Thank you for your comment.

      If you have had unprotected sex then there can be a chance that you may get pregnant. If you still haven't had a proper period then do another pregnancy test. If this is still negative and you still think you may be pregnant then please make an appointment to see the GP who will be able to take a blood test for the pregnancy hormone and this should give you a better result. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Jermicareyes (not verified) on 23 Oct 2018 - 20:46

      I got my period on September 17 now its october 23 and still no period am i pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Oct 2018 - 12:13

      Hi Jermicareyes
      It would be a good time for you now that your period is a week late, for you to do a pregnancy test as this will give you a true positive, or true negative result. See the link below for more information on when and how is best to take a pregnancy test.
      All the best
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Hi am Ann (not verified) on 11 Oct 2018 - 11:25

      I had my period on September 9, I had unprotected sex the cycle. About a week or two I had this unusual feeling like cramps, constipation, back pains so I tested with PT and it showed negative. Am suppose to have my period this months like 7th but I missed it till now, feeling cramps and feeling sick infact am not myself now. Could it be pregnancy. Please help me out. Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Oct 2018 - 14:14

      Hi Thank you for your comment.

      If you have had unprotected sex and now your period is late then we would suggest that you do another pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. It may be that you tested too early and this showed up as negative. If you are still getting negative tests and your period doesn't come then please see your GP who can do a blood test for the pregnancy HCG hormone. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Ka (not verified) on 10 Oct 2018 - 18:11


      I had my period on the 11th September to the 14th I had sex on the 16th, 17th, 20th 24th 26th and the 27th. My next period should have been 9th October but I haven't seen it yet done a pregnancy test but came back negative


    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Oct 2018 - 11:58

      Hi Ka, Thank you for your comment.

      It may be that you are testing too early, this can sometimes be the case that women are pregnant but still getting negative tests. Leave it a few days and test again, if you still don't get a period and you are still getting negative tests then see your GP who can do a blood test for the pregnancy hormone. This will give you an accurate result as the levels of the HCG pregnancy hormone is detected stronger in the blood. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Eunice75 (not verified) on 2 Oct 2018 - 12:46

      My period was supposed to come out on the 14 of September but it came out on the 16 spotting and later sized on that same day. Then it came back again on the 17 with little dark blood and also seized again, finally it showed up again on the 18 with little blood clot. Now am worried because since then I've been having all these symptoms (1) breast tenderness, vomiting, gas, leg and hand pains, -sex drive, almost all the pregnancy symptoms, please could I be pregnant? Though I've done pregnancy test with PT and it came out negative.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Oct 2018 - 15:57

      Hi Eunice, Thank you for your comment.
      If you have been having unprotected sex then there could be a chance that you are pregnant if you are having symptoms of pregnancy as well. As this wasn't a normal period for you, then we would suggest doing another pregnancy test or you can go and see your GP who can do a blood test for the pregnancy hormone, then this will give you a clear result if you are pregnant or not. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Ginaorr (not verified) on 27 Sep 2018 - 19:24

      Trying to conceive and still the pregnancy test is negative all the time and I don't know

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Sep 2018 - 09:27

      Hi - thank you for your message. I'm sorry to hear your finding it hard to conceive - don't give up hope. You may find our information pages on Top tips for planning a pregnancy helpful.
      If you haven't already - visit your GP and discuss your plans for a pregnancy - they can advise on any issues you have or offer further information.

    • By Eunice (not verified) on 26 Sep 2018 - 23:01

      I did my period on 8 august and another on 30 august and i used to have irregular mestration .am i pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Sep 2018 - 15:00

      Hi Eunice, Thank you for your comment.

      The only way that you will be able to know if you are pregnant is to do a pregnancy test. If you have been having unprotected sex then there is every chance that you can fall pregnant. If you do a pregnancy test then this will tell you. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By salome jelagat (not verified) on 24 Sep 2018 - 05:21

      I received my periods 8th september to 11th sep,had unprotected sex on 20th to 22nd september can be pregnant?after 2 days I feel so tired..especially morning hours

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Sep 2018 - 15:31

      It is too soon to know. Wait until your next period is due. If it doesn't come you can do a pregnancy test.

    • By jhiejhie (not verified) on 23 Sep 2018 - 15:30

      I had my period july 22,next is August18,2018.I am a regular 28 days cycle.I had unprotected sex last sept. 1, which i found out lately that it was my fertile days.I supposed to have my period on 15th buy until now i’m delayed.Is there any chance that im pregnant?I am experiencing extreme fatigue and terrible headache.Thank you for the response

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Sep 2018 - 15:33

      Yes it is possible you are pregnant. Please do a pregnancy test to confirm.

    • By Michelle (not verified) on 19 Sep 2018 - 12:23

      I have an IUD and my fiancé and I sexuality active and last month I had a normal period and this month I was 3 days late and quit 2 days early and 2 positive tests even while on period and 5 days after I quit my period it came out negative. Yet I feel fluttering and always hungry, tired, nauseous, could I be pregnant?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Sep 2018 - 16:24

      Hi Michelle, thank you for your comment.
      It can be possible to fall pregnant when you have an IUD in situ even if the chances are low. If you have had a positive pregnancy test and now it is negative, we would recommend that you go and see your GP about this. Your GP will be able to do a blood test that can test for the pregnancy hormone in your blood, if they suspect a pregnancy then they should refer you for a scan due to you having an IUD. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Unknown (not verified) on 15 Sep 2018 - 00:25

      Hello, I got unprotected sex on August 10th and 11th saw my period 7 days later august 18. Had unprotected sex again September 9th also took a prenatal 5 days before my period is due, no signs of period. What should I do?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Sep 2018 - 10:21

      Hello, By these dates your period was due just 2 days ago if you have a regular cycle every four weeks. You could try a pregnancy test as many tests now will detect a pregnancy as early as when the period is due.

    • By Saddam (not verified) on 14 Sep 2018 - 23:52

      Hi there,

      I need some good advice: I had unprotected sex with my girlfriend 7 months back and never had sex again. She came to me yesterday saying she’s pregnant with my baby! She even had a period in the meantime so far I know. Is it possible ?? Please help. Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Sep 2018 - 10:45

      Hello Saddam, Yes this is possible if she is 7 months pregnant. If so she will have the baby in a few weeks time. A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks long. Try just to get the facts very clear before you worry or make any decisions. Take care

    • By kate (not verified) on 14 Sep 2018 - 08:07

      I had sex two days after I saw my period in may but after that I still saw my period with heavy flow the other month. in June I had sex again but I still saw my period with normal flow d next month. but now I don't known why I am feeling movements around my tummy I have never had a missed period
      am I pregnant.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Sep 2018 - 11:57

      Hi Kate,
      If you continue to have normal periods and a usual cycle then this would mean that you are not pregnant. If you have had sex without contraception since your last period, then there would be a chance of pregnancy, if your next period does not come then I would advise for you to do a pregnancy test.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Patience (not verified) on 13 Sep 2018 - 11:34

      I saw my period on 27august and end on 31august and I have sex on the 7 September to 10 and pls I want to know if I can get pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Sep 2018 - 12:53

      Hi Patience, Thank you for your comment.

      From the dates that you are given it looks like you have sex around ovulation but if you are having unprotected sex at anytime in your cycle you have a chance of getting pregnant. You need to wait until you miss a period and then do a pregnancy test. Hope this helps, good luck, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By joy (not verified) on 5 Sep 2018 - 00:30

      I had unprotected sex on the 4 8 18 but he did the withdrawal method. I'm to see my period in 5 days. I'm I pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Sep 2018 - 11:08

      Thank you for your comment
      If you think you may be pregnant I would advise taking a pregnancy test to confirm this. if it is positive then you should see your GP or refer yourself to your local maternity unit so that you can access maternity care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Vivian (not verified) on 31 Aug 2018 - 21:49

      Hi, I had my period on 11th of this month and I had sex on the 22 and 25 now am feeling sick, am having headache, cold and am feeling weak sorry am I pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Sep 2018 - 13:06

      Hi Vivian,
      If you have had intercourse without contraception and there would be a chance that you are pregnant. If your period does not come when due then I would suggest for you to take a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. In the meantime it would also be important for you to be taking a folic acid supplement if you think you may be pregnant.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

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