Look, we love a bit of financial literacy, but if you’re TTC, you’re likely looking for a DPO meaning that isn’t Days Payable Outstanding.
So here’s the 411.
What does DPO stand for in pregnancy?
DPO stands for Days Past Ovulation.
Ovulation happens when one of your ovaries releases an egg into your fallopian tube. If a healthy sperm is waiting for that egg, conception might take place.
So, if you’re looking to score a BFP (Big Fat Positive)—or a BFN (Big Fat Negative)—on a pregnancy test, you’ll want to pay attention to DPO.
(BTW, if all these acronyms are feeling a bit OTT, here’s a crash course.)
How DPO is calculated
Day 1 is the day after you ovulate. So, if you ovulate on Friday, Saturday is 1 DPO, Sunday is 2 DPO, Monday is 3 DPO, Tuesday is 4 DPO, etc.
To understand how that fits into the grand scheme of things, here’s a quick recap of how your cycle works (understanding, of course, that everyone’s different.):
Days 1 - 5: Day 1 is the first day of your period. If the egg that was released the last time you ovulated is not fertilized, it will leave your body. You might bleed for three days, you might bleed for eight. Five is the average.
Days 6 - 14: After your period, the lining of your uterus thickens to prep for pregnancy.
Days 14 - 25: On about Day 14, ovulation happens and, the day after that, the DPO count begins. If fertilization takes place, the newly formed zygote journeys to the wall of the uterus with the aim of implanting itself there. It’s hard for us to tell for sure when ovulation and conception happen, which is why we count pregnancy from Day 1 of the LMP (Last Menstrual Period) rather than try to guess when conception occurred.
Days 25 - 28: If fertilization doesn’t take place, your body will prepare to shed the uterine lining, along with the egg that was released during ovulation.
The whole process is managed by hormones, with the key players being estrogen, progesterone, LH (the luteinizing hormone), and FSH (the follicle-stimulating hormone).
How many DPO do you get symptoms?
You might experience pregnancy symptoms as early as 5 DPO or much, much later. (The vagueness is annoying, we know—bodies are all so different—but it certainly keeps the story interesting.)
Some of the early signs of pregnancy (before you miss your period) include:
- Tender breasts.
- A whole lot of peeing.
- Elevated BBT (Basal Body Temperature) for more than 18 days.
- Nausea and (possibly) vomiting.
- Creamy, white vaginal discharge.
It’s important to note that these 14 DPO symptoms can also be the result of so many other things. If you’re at all concerned about your health, check in with your doctor.
Also, many women experience symptoms such as cramps, vaginal discharge, breast tenderness, and nausea when they’re ovulating or when they’re PMS-ing—so it’s just not always that easy to find the source of these symptoms.
That brings us to our next question:
How many DPO can you take a pregnancy test?
There’s no hard and fast rule here, but as a rough guide, it’s best to wait until you’re about 14 DPO to get a reliable result.
Pregnancy tests work by checking for a hormone called hCG. HCG is known as the pregnancy hormone because it generally rises to detectable amounts only when a woman is pregnant.
If you take a pregnancy test too soon after conception (like 4 DPO), hCG production might not be in full swing yet, and you might get a false negative. On the flip side, testing too early might also detect a chemical pregnancy, which is when the egg is fertilized but doesn’t implant in the uterus, leading to a very early miscarriage. This is very common, and it can be upsetting to get a positive pregnancy test only to get your period a few days later.
So, best to wait. But that’s easier said than done. If you’re TTC, that 14-day 2WW (AKA the Two Week Wait, AKA the time between ovulation and your next expected period) can feel long. Here are some tips on how to get through it.
And if you need support through this journey, it exists. You don’t have to struggle through on your own.
Wherever you’re at, we wish you the best of luck.