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

  • Couple Amanda and Judd with daughter Shelbie


    I just knew that there were no guarantees for us when trying to conceive

    Amanda, 26, had irregular periods and she knew getting pregnant would be a challenge. She and her husband decided to become healthier when they were planning to have a baby. They now have a daughter called Shelbie.

  • Hayley, Sam and baby Amaryllis


    “One chance for a baby”

    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.

  • Claire Gale


    “I knew I was ready to try again”

    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


    Our emotional pregnancy journey

    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 2 Feb 2017 - 11:35

      Many women have irregular periods and this is not usually a problem. However, if there is a possibility that you could be pregnant, I would suggest that you do a pregnancy test.

    • By Amanda Gillett (not verified) on 21 Dec 2016 - 21:55

      Hi I'm 8 days late my period was due on the 13th of December but still hasn't shown up. I've being having some symptoms like feeling sick bloating metallic taste my clothes are getting tight. Moody and tired. Do you think it's possible that I could be pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Dec 2016 - 10:25

      Hi, it could be possible that you are pregnant if you have had unprotected sexual intercourse. Sometimes the pregnancy tests are not quite sensitive enough to recognise a pregnancy early on, I would suggest you repeat the test in about 5-7 days time. If you continue you have negative pregnancy tests and your do not have your period then I would suggest to see your GP for a review.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Dec 2016 - 16:57

      Im on the pill but about 3 weeks ago me and my other half had unprotected sex and i forgot the pill TWO days after !!! As soon as i reaslised i caught myself up with it and am taking it again ...however now ive noticed im getting forgetful and feeling sick (I've already got 2 little ones so know what to look for ) but could i be pregnant on the pill seeing as i missed a couple of days ???

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Dec 2016 - 09:28

      It is very difficult to say- but it would certainly be worth taking a pregnancy test. It would be possible to conceive if you've missed two pills, but it is quite unlikely. Every woman is different and some are obviously more highly fertile than others. I would do a test to be sure. Take care of yourself.

    • By bufflie (not verified) on 27 Nov 2016 - 10:53

      Hi there..its been 20 days since mi period had not come.normally my period would be 5 to 6 days late but this the the longest.on e 14th day i went for urine test but it showed negative.i do not have nausea but my tummy does have cramps on & off and i get emotional fever.i could get angry or sad easily and i will cry like a baby..furthermore i just had my 1st intercourse in my life after i got married last mth on e 15th oct and my first day of my lasr period was on the 7th oct.could the delay be hormonal imbalance or am i pregnant?hope u could advise me as im worried if it could be hormonal imbalance instead of pregnant.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Nov 2016 - 09:56

      Hi there. It is difficult to say either way, but please don't panic.
      I think it would be sensible to visit your GP if you take another home pregnancy test and it is negative, as you may need some further Gynecology tests. Your GP will also be able to perform a pregnancy test to confirm a positive or negative result before any referrals are made.
      Take care of yourself and feel free to message us again if you have any more concerns.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Oct 2016 - 16:34

      If you have had unprotected intercourse and your period is now late, it is worth doing a pregnancy test to check to see if you are pregnant.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 6 Oct 2016 - 23:00

      We used a condom but he Thinks it may have split but thanks I'll do a test In a week or so as it would still be to early to tell

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 6 Oct 2016 - 15:55

      I had sexual intercourse about 1-2 weeks ago now and I have not had my period and I'm never late I've also been loosing clear gooey discharge from Im vagina is it possible I could Ben pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Oct 2016 - 11:20

      If the first day of your last period was 29th September & you have a regular 28 day cycle, then your fertile time would be from 10th October to 15th October & you would be ovulating on 14th October . You are most fertile within a day or two either side of ovulation. Hope that helps! Good luck!

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 2 Oct 2016 - 16:56

      my period started on 29th september , should i be fertile on 11/12 oct

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Sep 2016 - 19:27

      Hi I was ment to of started my period a week ago, but the week before I was I had some bleeding for 5 days, now today I feel dizzy and sick and have a headache, really tired and having some cramps. I done a pregnancy test today but I was negative, can I be pregnant? I'm not sure what to do next?
      Thank you

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Sep 2016 - 09:09

      It might be possible that you are pregnant if you have had intercourse over the past month. However, it is also possible that your period came early for some reason - since you bled for 5 days the week before. I would suggest that you take another test in a few more days to allow any pregnancy hormones to become stronger to ensure that the test is more accurate.
      If that test is negative, then it would probably be worth going to your GP to discuss your menstrual cycle and being referred to Gynecology if your menstruation is in some way unusual or different suddenly for you. It is always best to get checked over for your long term health.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Aug 2016 - 11:52

      Hi it is possible that the levels of circulating hCG in your urine are lower and you could repeat a pregnancy test in three days time if your period hasn't arrived.
      Most fertile couples have a good chance of becoming pregnant within a year.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 3 Aug 2016 - 00:59

      I have missed my period by a day. I use the period tracker app and I had unprotected sex with my partner a day after the app projected that I will be fertile. I have done a pregnancy test which said negative. Could I still be pregnant?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Aug 2016 - 11:06

      If your periods are regular and it was due 2 weeks ago, you could do a pregnancy test now to check if you are pregnant. Pregnancy tests check for the presence of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), in your urine. Your body begins to produce HCG once you have conceived. Good luck!

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 2 Aug 2016 - 00:19

      I was going to have my preode before 2 weeks ago. But I haven't yet. So am I pragnent?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jul 2016 - 15:35

      It maybe possible that it is slightly too early for a pregnancy test to be able to pick up the pregnancy hormones, you may need to wait a week or too and retake the pregnancy test. If the pregnancy test is still negative it maybe worth seeing you GP.

    • By Fiona Small (not verified) on 29 Aug 2016 - 20:29

      where do I go from here

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Sep 2016 - 15:34

      Sometimes a pregnancy test is not sensitive enough to pick up changes in hormone levels as soon as a period has been missed, therefore it is usually advisable to wait up to a week and to repeat the test. If this is still negative and your period has not come then you can see the GP for a blood test which is more sensitive and will tell you if your hormone levels are raised and therefore are pregnant. It is recommended to be taking a folic acid and vitamin D supplement pre conceptually and during the pregnancy. If you would like to talk further then please do give us a call on 0800 0147 800 or email [email protected]

    • By Promise (not verified) on 13 Apr 2020 - 10:19

      I missed my period day and is today that i spuse to see my period but till now i have not seeing

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 26 Jul 2016 - 18:23

      Hi, I was on the pill for the last year or so but I came off it 4 months ago. Me and my partner had unprotected sex 2 months ago but I got my period the month before and i still haven't got my period, normally my periods were late before the pill but never this late, I had took a pregnancy test last week and it was negative. Is there any way maybe I took it to early or what should I do?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Jul 2016 - 15:48

      The best thing to do is to do a pregnancy test. As you have missed two periods, it will confirm for you one way or the other whether you are pregnant . Good luck!

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 21 Jul 2016 - 14:38

      Hi, so I was wondering if anyone could please help my situation the past few months ive been spot on then I missed 2 periods and still not come on, been trying for a baby for about roughly 6 months but nothing yet can anyone help?

    • By [email protected]'s on 19 Jul 2016 - 10:06

      Hi, Our midwives have this advice: Generally if you are usually regular with your periods and have been having unprotected sex, it is advisable that you take a pregnancy test to confirm if you are pregnant or not. A pregnancy test can be taken from the first day of your missed period. Vaginal discharge is common in the first trimester and is called leukorrhea – It is not offensive and is milky coloured. When pregnant this discharge increases due to the increased oestrogen & increased blood flow to the vagina. If however the discharge is offensive or not milky coloured , you may have a vaginal infection so you should seek medical advice from your GP. If you want to have more advice feel free to call one of our Tommy's Midwives for a chat on our helpline on 0800 0147 800 or email [email protected]

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 19 Jul 2016 - 05:25

      I have a regular period that came late, by a week or so, but now I've been having discharge, and I'm quite worried as me and my partner are having unprotective sex.
      Help please

    • By [email protected]'s on 7 Jul 2016 - 10:55

      Discharge and spotting are not definite indicators of pregnancy. The only way to be sure is to take a pregnancy test. Many will be able to tell from the first day of your missed period (some can be used four or five days before your period is due). Check what it says on the packet. Take care of yourself and feel free to call us on 0800 0147800 if you wish to speak to a midwife directly. The Tommy's MIdwives

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 3 Jul 2016 - 18:29

      My periods have been on time or just a day or two early but now iv become to be having discharge. Is there any chance that I could be pregnant or not with having discharge? Also spotting blood now an then?

    • By [email protected]'s on 20 Jun 2016 - 14:05

      It is possible that you are pregnant as you had unprotected sex after your period. Spotting can be a sign of one of many things, but yes, it is possible that it is a sign of pregnancy. It would be best to take a pregnancy test, either one with your GP, or a home test, to find out. If you are not pregnant, then perhaps your GP can send you for some investigations to put your mind at ease. Take care of yourself and feel free to call us on 0800 0147800 if you wish to speak to a midwife directly.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 19 Jun 2016 - 17:51

      Hi,i came on my period on the 8th June,little early but nothing unusual,it lasted for 4 days then i stopped bleeding, the next day i had unprotected sex with my partner&ever since then I've been spotting,is this a sign that i could be pregnant?

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 14 Jun 2016 - 14:20

      Am I Pregnant

    • By [email protected]'s on 13 Jun 2016 - 10:25

      Missing periods can be caused by any number of things – pregnancy, stress, illness, weight (mostly severe weight loss), excessive exercise, change in schedule, breastfeeding, medication, hormonal imbalance or even a thyroid disorder. If you are sure that you are not pregnant, then it might be a good idea to be seen by your GP (which is free) to have some tests done which will make sure that you are well and to get treatment started if they find something which requires it.

      If this information doesn't help would you like to call our midwives on 0800 0147 800. The call is free and midwives are on the line Monday to Friday 9-5. Or you can email [email protected]?
      Regards, Tommy's midwives

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 3 Jun 2016 - 03:51

      So I am going on two months of missed period and I've taken like six pregnancy test but they all say negative. I know this is pregnancy site but I just can't find anything else that says why I would be missing my period. It's never ever been late or missed. I'm just scared and I need some help. I don't have money for a doctor I just need someone to help me.

    • By [email protected]'s on 16 May 2016 - 14:07

      It is possible for you to get pregnant without having sexual intercourse if, for example :
      - sperm gets into your vagina- for example, if you or your partner have seman or pre-ejaculate on your fingers and touch your vagina
      - your partner ejaculates near your vagina
      - your partner’s erect penis comes into contact with your body near your vagina
      The risk of getting pregnant in this way is fairly low as sperm can only live for a short time outside of the body. However, if you’re not planning a pregnancy, it’s important to know that it’s possible to get pregnant in this way.
      Hope this helps, Tommy's midwives

    • By ann (not verified) on 25 Aug 2018 - 11:50

      I had my menses on the 29july2018 and my menses has not come .I have this terrible cold. please confirm this for me

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