Are you staring at a faint line on a pregnancy test and not quite sure what it means? Sometimes the results of home pregnancy tests can leave you feeling pretty confused.
This is especially true when one of the pregnancy test lines is faint. Many women wonder whether seeing a very faint line 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.
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 line pregnancy test. That’s only the control line. The test line will always show up after a test, no matter what the result. It means the test is complete, and you are not pregnant
- Two lines pregnancy test. When a second line appears, even if it’s a faint line, it means 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.
Early faint positive pregnancy test: Clearblue
Some pregnancy tests are more sensitive than others. Clearblue is one of the most sensitive pregnancy test kits available.
A faint line on a pregnancy test usually means it’s a positive result so, yes, you’re pregnant.
Even the faintest of lines signals the detection of the pregnancy hormone, hCG, which can be detected after you have conceived.
After positive pregnancy tests, many women re-test in the following days, ideally on waking in the morning. If the positive test line continues to get darker, then you’ll have even further reassurance that you’re pregnant. If it doesn’t, a faint positive result still means positive. The line should get darker as the pregnancy progresses.
Early pregnancy symptoms? Read more in our article Early Signs Of Pregnancy – 9 Signs You May Be Pregnant.
Early faint negative pregnancy test
Although home pregnancy tests are quite accurate most of the time, in some situations you might get a faint line on a pregnancy test (which means you’re testing positive) but a normal pregnancy will not eventuate.
The most common reasons are:
- Chemical pregnancy. A chemical pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg doesn’t grow. A chemical pregnancy usually occurs around 5 weeks of pregnancy, after a pregnancy test can detect hCG levels in the urine
- Ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy can also occur in the cervix, ovary, or abdominal cavity
- A missed miscarriage. This occurs when an egg is fertilized, implants and then fails to grow. Most commonly this happens due to chromosomal problems.
Facts about home pregnancy tests
Most pregnancy tests on the market today are very sensitive. They can detect pregnancy much earlier than tests were able to in the past.
A pregnancy test detects the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. This is a hormone produced by the fertilized egg after it implants into the uterus.
Implantation usually happens about day 6 after fertilization.
The amount of human chorionic gonadotropin needed varies from test to test. Some tests detect an hCG level as low as 10 IU/ml.
Faint line pregnancy test
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?
Pictures of negative pregnancy test with faint lines
A negative pregnancy test result with faint lines usually means the second line (the one that tells you whether you are pregnant) has dried.
Although possible, it’s difficult to get a false negative result if you do the test correctly. If you get two lines – even is one of them is really faint – it’s a positive result.
These pictures below are of negative HPTs:
Ignore the blue line on the left; that’s to indicate where the urine should be collected.
In a pregnancy test, the only faint line that means you’re not pregnant is a dried evaporation line (see image below)
What does a faint line on a pregnancy test mean?
HPTs are designed to pick up a specific pregnancy hormone in your urine.
Faint lines on a home pregnancy test are telling you hCG has been detected in your urine sample, so you are pregnant. Most tests are designed to look for any amount or level of hCG. In the very early stages of pregnancy, it’s possible to find an extremely faint (usually light pink or blue) line. When this happens you can consider it a faint positive pregnancy test result.
Remember, implantation usually happens about a week after a sperm fertilizes an egg. It can take longer, however – even up to 12 days after fertilization. You might also have ovulated later than you thought.
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.
How to avoid a false positive result
It isn’t very common, but a false positive pregnancy test 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 that what you think is a positive test result might actually be a faint evaporation line, or ‘evap’ line.
An evaporation line is a faint line that appears after a pregnancy test with a negative result 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 colorless 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 – about 10-15 mIU/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. If you’re pregnant, your urine will have the highest concentration of hCG at this time.
Faint line on pregnancy test not getting darker
It’s assumed the line will darken because hCG levels increase during early pregnancy. The strength of the positive test line depends on the amount of hCG in your urine.
Wait until your first missed period if you want a darker test strip. Even a digital pregnancy test might not be conclusive before a missed period. A blood test is the only way to get accurate positive test results before you have missed a period.
The concentration of hCG fluctuates during the day, depending on whether you drink too much liquid and how often you urinate, as well as on other factors.
Less concentrated urine means the line on pregnancy tests might remain faint.
Faint line on pregnancy test after IVF
If you see a faint line on a pregnancy test after you’ve had an embryo transfer, congratulations on your positive pregnancy test!
When you go through IVF, you’re usually very aware of the dates and the times things should happen – especially how early you can take a pregnancy test.
If you have a faint positive pregnancy test, contact your IVF doctor.
Faint line on pregnancy test and spotting and cramping
Conception usually occurs 2 weeks before your missed period. Implantation of the embryo into the uterine endometrium (the part in charge of nurturing the embryo that gets shredded with every menstruation) usually happens about 10 to 14 days after conception.
Many women usually take pregnancy tests after a missed period. When implantation occurs, sometimes is accompanied by cramping and spotting and the pregnancy continues just fine.
However, cramping and spotting could also mean a very early miscarriage.
An early pregnancy loss is one that happens during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes, early pregnancy losses happen so soon after conception that they’re missed.
If you experience spotting and cramping after a faint positive line in a pregnancy test result, contact your healthcare provider, who will be able to provide the best advice.
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