Are you staring at a faint line on a pregnancy test, and aren’t sure what it means? Sometimes the results of a home pregnancy test can leave you feeling pretty confused.
This is especially true when one of the pregnancy test lines is faint. Many women wonder whether seeing faint lines is a positive result, or a negative result.
Faint Line On Pregnancy Test
When you’re hoping for a positive pregnancy result, a faint line on a pregnancy test can be really frustrating.
It can bring on worries about miscarriage or other concerns about not conceiving.
Read on to find out what a faint line on a pregnancy test really means.
Pregnancy test lines
A home pregnancy test (HPT) is an easy and very accurate way to find out whether or not you’re pregnant.
If you’re new to home pregnancy tests, here’s what the test lines mean. Once you take the test, one of two things will happen. You will get either:
- One pregnancy test line. That’s the test’s control line, which will always show up after a test, no matter what the result. It means the test is complete, and you are not pregnant.
- Two pregnancy test lines. Two lines mean the test is complete and you are pregnant.
If you get no pregnancy test lines showing up at all, the test is faulty, and you should take another test.
Facts about Home Pregnancy Tests
Most pregnancy tests on the market today are very sensitive. They can detect pregnancy much earlier than the tests of the past.
A pregnancy test detects the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), in your urine. This is a hormone produced by the fertilised egg (called a blastocyst at this early stage) after it implants into the uterus.
Implantation usually happens about day 6 after fertilisation.
The amount of human chorionic gonadotropin needed varies from test to test. Some tests detect hCG levels as low as 10 IU/ml.
Exactly when hCG can be detected really depends on each individual woman. The numbers below, however, are typical of most pregnancies.
Remember these figures are referring to the number of weeks from your last menstrual period:
- 3 weeks: 5 – 50 mIU/ml
- 4 weeks: 5 – 426 mIU/ml
- 5 weeks: 18 – 7,340 mIU/ml
- 6 weeks: 1,080 – 56,500 mIU/ml
- 7 – 8 weeks: 7,650 – 229,000 mIU/ml
Very faint line on pregnancy test pictures
Sometimes the line on a pregnancy test might be so faint as to be almost invisible. But often, it’s definitely a faint positive test result, just like these below.
Can you see the very faint positive lines?
What does a faint line on pregnancy test mean?
HPTs are designed to pick up a specific pregnancy hormone in your urine.
Faint lines on a home pregnancy test is telling you hCG has been detected, so you are pregnant.
Most women prefer to be absolutely certain, and want to see a darker line on their pregnancy test.
Remember, implantation happens usually about a week after sperm fertilises an egg. It can take longer, however, even up to 12 days after fertilisation. You might have ovulated later than you thought too.
The longer you wait after implantation, the higher your hCG levels will be.
The more pregnancy hormone present in your urine, the darker the line you will see on your pregnancy test.
Once you have a positive pregnancy test, you can work out your estimated due date with BellyBelly’s Due Date Calculator.
Does a faint line mean I’m pregnant?
A faint line on a pregnancy test usually means it’s a positive result – so yes, you’re pregnant.
Even the faintest of lines is the detection of the pregnancy hormone, hCG, which can be detected after you have conceived.
You may want to re-test in the coming days, ideally upon waking in the morning. If the positive line continues to get darker, then you’ll have even further reassurance that you’re pregnant. A blood test can further confirm your result if you need to.
What else might you notice during early pregnancy? Read our article about early pregnancy signs.
Can a faint line mean I’m not pregnant?
Although home pregnancy tests are quite accurate most of the time, in some situations you might get a faint line on a pregnancy test, but normal pregnancy will not eventuate.
The most common examples include:
- A chemical pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilised egg doesn’t grow. It usually occurs around 5 weeks of pregnancy, after a pregnancy test can detect hCG.
- An ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. It can also occur in the cervix, ovary, or abdominal cavity.
- A missed miscarriage. This occurs when an egg is fertilised, implants and then fails to grow. Most commonly this happens due to chromosomal problems.
How to avoid a false positive result
It’s not very common, but a false positive result can sometimes happen. This is usually due to user error rather than anything else.
Make sure you’ve followed the instructions properly. Taking the test too early might result in a false positive or false negative.
It’s always best to wait, at least until the time you expect your period. Often women re-test frequently, in the hope of getting a more concrete answer.
Your hCG levels fluctuate during the day and can depend on how diluted your urine is.
That’s the reason why most pregnancy test instructions suggest you test in the morning, when you wake up.
If you leave the test in your urine for too long it can also skew the results. And definitely don’t read the test after the allotted amount of time.
It’s possible you may see what you think is a positive test result which is actually an evaporation line, or ‘evap’ line.
An evaporation line is a faint line that appears after a negative pregnancy test has dried.
Tests that show two line results have what are known as ‘indent’ lines where the ink pools.
One line is for the control line and one is for the positive result (if there is one).
As the ink moves across the results window, it will collect in one or both of these indents.
Sometimes, as the test dries and the urine evaporates, it leaves a faint colourless line in the indent.
How to avoid a faint line
The best way to avoid the frustration or disappointment at getting a faint line on a pregnancy test is to:
- Buy a home pregnancy test that can detect low levels of hCG – around 10-15mIU/L.
- Wait until after you’ve missed your period before taking a test. Although sensitive tests claim to be able to pick up low levels of hCG, you’re more likely to see a faint line.
- Do the test first thing in the morning before having any fluids. Your urine will have the highest concentration of hCG if you’re pregnant.
What if the line doesn’t get darker?
It’s assumed because hCG levels increase during early pregnancy, pregnancy tests will become darker over time.
However this isn’t necessarily the case.
A home pregnancy test will most likely be darker when your urine has high concentrations of hCG.
However multiple tests to check the colour of the line aren’t a reliable way to check the progress of early pregnancy.
The concentration of hCG fluctuates during the day, depending on how much fluid you’re drinking, how often you urinate and other factors.
Less concentrated urine means the line on pregnancy tests might remain faint.
If you’re concerned, speak to your healthcare provider, who will arrange for you to have blood tests to monitor hCG levels over a period of time.
A: If you don’t want to experience the disappointment that a faint pregnancy line test result can bring, then schedule your pregnancy test after your period didn’t arrive, and not before. Also, when you do a test, do it first thing in the morning.
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