Got a faint line on a pregnancy test and not sure what it means?
Taking a home pregnancy test is a pretty simple task.
But sometimes the results can leave you none the wiser.
This is especially true when the line on the pregnancy test is faint.
Many women wonder whether a faint line on a pregnancy test is actually positive or not.
Faint Line On A Pregnancy Test – What Does It Mean?
When you’re hoping for a positive pregnancy result, a faint line on a pregnancy test can be really frustrating.
It can bring on concerns about miscarriage or other problems.
Find out what a faint line on a pregnancy test really means.
Home Pregnancy Tests
A home pregnancy test (HPT) is an easy and pretty accurate way to find out whether or not you’re pregnant.
Many of the pregnancy tests on the market today are very sensitive.
They can detect a pregnancy much earlier than the HPTs of the past.
A pregnancy test detects levels of human Chorionic Gondotrophin (hCG).
This is a hormone produced by the fertilised egg (called a blastocyst at this early stage) when it implants into the uterus.
Implantation usually happens about day 6 after fertilisation.
Pregnancy tests detect levels of hCG in your urine. The amount of hCG 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
This tells us that around the time you would expect your next period, a sensitive HPT can detect hCG if it is present.
Is That A Faint Line On A Pregnancy Test?
So you’ve followed the instructions to the letter and now you’re staring at that pregnant test as hard as you can.
You’re sure there’s a line.
At this point women who are hoping to see a line often show it to someone else, for another opinion.
On birth and pregnancy forums there are literally millions of pictures of pregnancy tests, captioned: ‘Can you see a line?’
The line might be so faint as to be almost invisible. You might need strong light and reading glasses to detect it!
But often, it’s defintely a positive pregnancy test, just like these below.
Can you see the positive faint lines?
What Does A Faint Line On A Pregnancy Test Mean?
As mentioned above, pregnancy tests are designed to pick up hCG in your urine.
A faint line on a pregnancy test is telling you hCG has been detected.
This almost certainly means you’re pregnant.
Most women prefer to be absolutely certain, though, and really want to see a much darker line on their pregnancy test.
Remember pregnancy tests designed to pick up very low levels of hCG can detect the hormone very soon after you’ve conceived.
Implantation happens usually about a week after sperm fertilises an egg.
It can take longer, however, even up to 12 days after fertilisation.
And you might have ovulated later than you thought, which can also add on time.
The longer you wait after implantation, the higher your hCG levels will be.
The more hCG 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 On A Pregnancy Test Mean I’m Pregnant?
Although home pregnancy tests are reliably accurate most of the time, in some situations you can have a ‘false positive’.
Chemical pregnancy: This occurs when a fertilised egg doesn’t grow.
It can happen because of problems with the uterus, abnormal hormone levels, infections, or after IVF.
Blood clotting and thyroid disorders increase the risk of chemical pregnancy; so does being over 35.
It is considered an early pregnancy loss, which usually occurs around 5 weeks, after a pregnancy test can detect hCG.
Ectopic pregnancy: This occurs when a fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube.
An ectopic pregnancy can also occur in the cervix, ovary, or abdominal cavity.
The embryo can’t survive and grow outside the uterus but will produce hCG.
Ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening and need immediate treatment.
Missed miscarriage: This occurs when an egg is fertilised, implants and then fails to grow.
It could be because an embryo didn’t form or failed to progress. Most commonly this happens due to chromosomal problems.
You won’t be aware something has gone wrong because you haven’t had any of the usual signs of miscarriage, such as bleeding and cramps.
Your hCG levels will start to drop but it can take up to six weeks before the hCG is undetectable.
It’s possible to have a positive pregnancy test result, even though the pregnancy hasn’t continued.
Can A Faint Line Mean I’m Not Pregnant?
It’s not very common but false positives sometimes happen when there’s no pregnancy.
This is usually due to user error rather than anything else.
A false positive is possible if you haven’t followed 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.
Always test when your urine is likely to be concentrated.
That’s the reason why most pregnancy test instructions suggest you test first thing 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.
You’re likely to see a positive which is, in fact, what is known as an evaporation or ‘evap’ line.
An evap 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.
What Should I Do If I Have A Faint Line On A Pregnancy Test?
If you have done a home pregnancy test and have a faint line in the results window, you might be wondering what to do.
It might be simply too early, and there isn’t enough hCG in your urine to detect.
Wait a few more days, preferably until you have missed your period, and take another test.
If it’s important to know immediately whether or not you are pregnant, you can have a blood test, which is much more reliable at detecting hCG.
How Can I Avoid Getting A Faint Line On A Pregnancy Test?
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 concentraction of hCG if you’re pregnant.
What If The Faint Line Isn’t Getting Darker?
It’s assumed because hCG levels increase during early pregnancy, pregnancy tests will get 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, see your doctor, who will arrange for you to have blood tests to monitor hCG levels over a period of time.