How Soon After Sex Can I Take a Pregnancy Test?

Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann looking at a pregnancy in Knocked Up
Knocked Up via Universal Pictures

Is there such a thing as too soon?

So, you just had sex.

We're guessing it was unprotected, the condom broke, or you're just paranoid and worried you might be pregnant even though you used protection—especially seeing as you made your way to this article.

We know the feeling all too well (more than we'd like to admit, honestly).

All you want to do right now is take a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not you've got a bun in the oven. But how soon is too soon to take a pregnancy test? Can you take it immediately after having sex? We're answering those questions and more below.

Juno via Fox Searchlight Pictures

How Soon Can I Take a Pregnancy Test?

Pregnancy doesn't happen as quickly as you'd think. It can take up to six days for the sperm to fertilize the egg, meaning you can't and shouldn't take a pregnancy test right away after having sex.

You should wait 12 to 14 days after your missed period to take a pregnancy test, given that most at-home tests can only tell you you're pregnant after you've missed a period. There are a few that can detect this beforehand, but it's still recommended you give it some time before taking one.

When Can I Take Emergency Contraception?

While you have time to take the test, there's a short window when you can take emergency contraception to potentially reduce the chances of you getting pregnant. After having unprotected sex, Planned Parenthood recommends taking emergency contraception within five days of the deed.

What Are the Different Types of Emergency Contraception?

There are two different types of emergency contraception: A ParaGard IUD and an emergency contraceptive pill.

The ParaGard IUD is the most effective type of emergency contraception and should be implanted within five days following unprotected sex.

For the contraceptive pill (AKA the morning-after pill), there are two types: A pill with ulipristal acetate and a pill with levonogestrel, both of which should be taken within the same five day timeframe.

The only brand of ulipristal acetate available is called Ella and requires a prescription from a nurse or doctor. Levonorgestrel brands include Plan B One Step, Next Choice One Dose, Take Action, My Way, After Pill, and more. These types of pills work best when taken within three days of unprotected sex, but still work up to five days after.

Not sure you should take the morning-after pill? Planned Parenthood created a quiz to answer that question, which you can take here.

Be sure to always consult a doctor or nurse before doing anything, because they always know what's best for you.