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Faint Line on my Home Pregnancy Test: Am I Pregnant?

on Jan 26, 2013

by Dr. Prabha Sahgal, MD

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Faint Line on my Home Pregnancy Test: Am I Pregnant?

Am I pregnant or not? Here is a list of the most common cases of when a faint line on your home pregnancy test is actually not a positive result.

I am sure there are many women among our readers who have found themselves unable to decide what a faint line means on a home pregnancy test. I can assure you, there are many other women out there who find it similarly difficult to decipher the meaning of the faint line. The answer, however, is quite simple. If you see a faint line, that is a line, regardless of the saturation. When it comes to home pregnancy tests, as a rule of thumb, lines are absolute; they indicate a positive result. However, there are a few special scenarios that are an exception to this rule and we will be taking a look at each one of them in a short while. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

Further below I compiled a list of the most common cases of when a faint line is actually not a positive result. However, before we dive into the possible causes of a false-positive test, let us take a look at how a home pregnancy test actually works. This will help us understand everything that can go south with it.

How pregnancy test works

Home pregnancy tests usually come in two forms: dip tests and instream tests. In case of a dip test, you are provided a clean urinal container into which the test strip is dipped, while midstream tests require you to hold the test strip in your stream of urine. There are two lines that can be visible on the display. A control line (C) that is always visible and it means that the test strip works properly, and a test line (T) that is only visible if the test result is positive. Both methods indicate pregnancy by capturing the hCG concentration level in the urine. hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is a hormone that enters our system 6 to 12 days after conception and for the following weeks its volume doubles every two or three days. The more hCG the urine contains, the darker the test line will be.

Now, let’s take a look at the cases when the faint test line can actually indicate a negative test result:

Not following instructions

The most common reason for getting wrong home pregnancy test results is failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In order to avoid wrong results, the most important thing is to read and follow the instructions carefully. For example a very important thing to keep in mind is, that most tests have a reaction time, generally 5-10 minutes. For a verified negative result the test should be read within the reaction time period mentioned in the manufacturer’s instructions. The instruction should also mention a time period, usually 10 minutes, after which the test result is unreliable. This is due to the fact that after some time the urine starts to evaporate and an evaporation line will slowly develop on the display which can be easily misinterpreted as the test line. One thing to help distinguish a test line from an evaporation line is the color of the line: while test lines are usually pink, the evaporation line has no color, it looks like a shadow.

The right time during the ovulation cycle

Timing the test is also very important. You must wait at least ten days after ovulation, but it’s safest to wait until after the first missed period. As mentioned before, it takes time for the hCG hormone to accumulate in your system, and the less sensitive the test is, the more hCG it takes for the test line to show up. You might want to try a period tracker calendar, or some kind of chart to always have the necessary data available to you.

Sensitivity level of the test

The sensitivity level of home pregnancy tests varies from product to product, but as a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the test, the more sensitive it is. The sensitivity level is expressed in mIU (milli-international units), and can generally range anywhere between 20mIU and 100mIU. So depending on the sensitivity level of the product, you may have to wait a little longer before you take the pregnancy test.

The right time of day for testing

Although not a requirement anymore, it is considered best practice to take the test with the first morning urine to avoid a diluted urine specimen. hCG concentration is highest in the morning, so it is less likely to give faint results.

Chemical pregnancy result

There is also a 20-30% chance per conception for a chemical pregnancy (early miscarriage), which means that despite the initial hCG presence in your body, a miscarriage occurred. In this case, you are not technically pregnant.

hCG medication interference

Taking medications containing hCG can also cause a faint test line as the test is determined by hCG levels. If you are taking medications that has the hormone in them it can give a false positive.

Test again

If none of the above explains the faint test line you got, then you may want to take the test a second time a few days after the first one just to make sure. If the first result was positive, then the test line should become bold a few days later due to the exponential hCG production pattern. If you you are still unsure about your results, you may want to contact your health care provider and ask for professional advice and maybe a blood test.

The bottom line

As you can see, in most cases a line, no matter how faint, or how bold, indicates pregnancy. Of course if you follow the advice above, you can double-check the results, but a health-care specialist will also be more than happy to assist you. But the buttom line is, chances are, a bundle of joy is coming your way, so take very good care of your health!

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Faint Line on my Home Pregnancy Test: Am I Pregnant?, 4.5 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

Dr. Prabha Sahgal MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and subspecialty board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Dr. Sahgal holds a B.S. degree from MIT in molecular biology and currently serves on the ConceiveEasy board of directors.

Related posts:

  1. Faint Line on a Pregnancy Test
  2. When Can I Take A Pregnancy Test after Trying to Conceive?
  3. How to Read a Pregnancy Test: 3 Best Tips
  4. Are Home Pregnancy Tests Accurate?
  5. Home Pregnancy Tests Reliable as Blood Pregnancy Tests?
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  • Naa

    I got marriage 2months ago, i still menstruate how can i get pregnant.

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  • lilly

    hi!i took pregnancy test 3 times and all of them have faint lines.the faint line appeared maybe within 7-10 minutes with my first two test.the faint line with the last test appeared after 3 minutes or maybe 4 minutes.but the kit says i should read within 1-5 minutes.(the faint line is darker)is it positive?if it is,can i still have a period?

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  • Dr. Renee Hanton, MD

    Knowing that you have regular menstrual cycles, there is a very good chance for you to get pregnant soon as long as you don’t have underlying infertility issues. You should try to take fertility supplements, track your ovulation cycles, and increase your sexual activity during your fertile window, which generally occurs 4 to 5 days before ovulation to improve your likelihood of getting pregnant.

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  • bec

    I am quite nervous due to the fact i have never had this happen before, i use the suppository birth control and in the 8 years i used it apart from when i wanted to get pregnant it never happened, after sex i saw the supposotory on the bed. i was freaking out being 39 and have 3 beautiful children but i suffer from extreme anxiety and cannot take hormones so i was too scared to take “the morning after” i have had some iregular periods lately, this last one was 26 day cycle and the one before 35 days. we had had protected sex on the night before which was the 12 night and this happened on the 13th morning. How high are my chances of being pregnant. its 5 days later and i dont feel it and i did with my other children. Please give me your opinion as i am very anxious.

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  • pa

    Im late 5 days from my period, i had my period last month… i took a pregnancy test & on the line that indicated not pregnant is very bold but the pregnancy line across is very faint? i have tested twice in one week. I dont know if im pregnant or not?

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  • Sindhu Arun

    I took home pregnancy test two times, two times I got a very very fainted pink line.. I took it 2 days after my missed period, second one 6days after. I want to know am I pregnant or not….

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  • laquenta white

    i took a pregnancy test and on one line was dark and the other one was vver very faint does that mean that im pregnant of not cause i remember with my second child i took a test and the line was really faint and i was pregnant!

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  • sunthinspecial

    i got married to weeks and as romantic as it may sound husband then fiance never touched me because we wanted to keep ourselves til our wedding night…….WELL WE DID and now im getting a faint reading on my home pregnancy test…the thing that gets me is when i went to show my husband the stick…the positive had dissappeard !!! am i pregnant?

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  • joy

    I had miscarriage on 24 of may and the next period starts on 24 of june and I did a urine test but showed me a very faint line so am confused and also am having abdominal cramps

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  • nighat

    want to know about pregnancy confirmation due date was 28 july,a fain line appear and then vanishes

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  • Vicky

    I just took a pregnant test the line came up straight away then 2mins later it’s gone what dose that mean like I have had a kid before puls iam getting signs

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  • Dr. Christine Lee, MD

    If you took a pregnancy test and had a faint line, it is probably because your the test has detected hCG in your urine, but aren’t enough to confirm a pregnancy. It is best to take another pregnancy test about a week after because if you are pregnant, your hCG levels double every 72 hrs until the 11th – 12th week.

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  • Monica Scott, RN

    Getting a faint line on your pregnancy test may mean that your hCG levels are not high enough to confirm a possible pregnancy. You may take another pregnancy test after a week or two as hCG levels double every 72 hrs.

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  • Ang

    I have had 2 confirmed miscarriages, and while I was on progesterone to dry up my second miscarriage, which lasted about 36 days, it seems I’ve somehow gotten pregnant?!? I had a very very faint line, and a week later, it’s still so very faint :( . I sense another miscarriage, but so far, no bleeding or spotting.

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  • uma

    hello every one..my last month period date was july 23 of 2013..i had a scan today..but the doctor tells i am a pregnent of 3 to 4 weeks..and wait untill the heart beat noticable..she told me to come after 30 days..i am verry worried.whats happening in my body?? please help me..

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  • Guest

    i missed my depo inj on the 3rd aug.. have every pregnancy symptoms under the sun.. but tsts keep coming back negative.. i do one this morning with a 1st morning pee and left the test stick in the urine forgot to go back to it and a second line has shown .. is this still an evaportion line even if the test hasn’t started to dry or am i pregnant? the second line does have pink pigmentation not just a shadow.

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  • Tashi

    i missed my depo inj on the 3rd aug.. have every pregnancy symptoms under the sun.. but tsts keep coming back negative.. i do one this morning with a 1st morning pee and left the test stick in the urine forgot to go back to it and a second line has shown .. is this still an evaportion line even if the test hasn’t started to dry or am i pregnant? the second line does have pink pigmentation not just a shadow.

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  • Guest

    is this positive or evaporation line? i left stil in pot of urine and forgot so the test didnt dry :/

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  • Tashi

    just wait .. babys heartbeat doesnt normally show up on an ultrasound till 5-6 weeks :) x

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  • Monica Scott, RN

    The reason why you are seeing a faint line on test is because after a miscarriage, it takes a while for the pregnancy hormone (hCG) to be completely off your system. You may want to try taking another test on the following month to be sure, or you can visit your doctor and have a blood test done.

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  • SuzieP

    I’ve done a few tests since 8 dpo and the have got a little darker each day. I’m dpo 10 today and line is very visable but not as dark as control line. Am I pregnant or is there a chance that it’s a chemical pregnancy. My af is due on dpo12. Really want this pregnancy to work

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  • Monica Scott, RN

    There is a possibility that you are pregnant. The faint line on your test could mean that your hCG levels are not enough to confirm a positive pregnancy. You may want to visit your doctor and have a blood test done as hCG in your bloodstream has a higher concentration than in your urine and can detect pregnancy faster.

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  • hopeful mommy

    Hello I am having some issues. I am to the day exact 28 day cycle and it only last 3 days every time and its always light with very very minor cramping. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant since May of this year. I took a pregnancy test this past Tuesday that showed up a very faint line so I waited until Friday morning and took another one with the first mornings urine. It quickly showed positive and was darker than the test on Tuesday. These were both the name brand first response test. However, this morning when I got up to use the bathroom, I am spotting. Today is the day I am supposed to start my period. So me being scared, I took another pregnancy test but it was the equate version of the first response and it is very faint like the test on Tuesday. I then took another test which was a walgreens brand and it didn’t show up positive. So I went to the store and purchased some more name brand first response and it is showing up dark positive. I am very worried and scared. Why would I keep getting these results and why would I be spotting the day I am supposed to start. If this is a miscarriage when should I be alarmed or what do I need 2 look for? Thank you in advance.

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  • Monica Scott, RN

    The earliest time you can take a pregnancy test is two weeks after your missed period. The spotting you have experienced could be an implantation bleeding which is often mistaken for a period. Take another test after two weeks. Do it first thing in the morning as your morning urine contains the highest concentration of hCG (the pregnancy hormone).

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  • Naty

    I just took two pregnancy test. The first one had one dark line and a faint one. After a few second it disappeared. The second one didn’t have no second line at all. Could i be pregnant?

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  • Alyssa

    I took two test Saturday both came positive with faint lines does this mean a possibly pregnant

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  • Hopeful

    Hi I am 3 day late for my period and I am always on time I done a test last night and there is a very faint just visible positive line is it still a positive result

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  • sophie

    Hi I haven’t been on contreception for 2yrs as my body didn’t seem to agree with it. I don’t have a regular dated period it usually varies between the 20th-28th of each month. I have been feeling very sick recently and my stomach seems to be bloated. so I thought I’d take a pregnancy test. I bought 2 cheap tests and both have come back with a dark line and a 2nd faint line on the (T) part. Would the fact that the tests being cheap could give me faulse results?

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  • crystal

    I took a pregnancy test and during the reading the positive line started. To show but the went away what does that mean?

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  • Ashley

    I just stopped taking bcp a month ago so I don’t know my cycles yet. I got my period on oct 2nd then my next period on nov 7 which lasted 3-4 days. I then took a pregnancy test on the 18th of nov because i was feeling preg and got a very very faint positive. For the next 2 weeks I kept taking a preg tests every couple of days which kept on being very very faint. Dec 1 I finally got a noticeable but still faint positve and then on dec 5 I got a dark positve. My question is when do you think I conceived?

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  • Tango

    Theres no line that indicates ‘not pregnant’. There is the control line to show that the test is working, and the test line – which only appears if you’re pregnant. You’re pregnant. Congrats.

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  • shay

    Hi i took a pregnancy test it had two lines on there nd im bleeding a Lil bit so what that means

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  • seainin

    i took 2 home pregnancy test one line was pink and the other line was faint does this mean i am pregnant and how far gone could i be

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  • Angelica

    Hi im angelica andlast week i was spotting pink then it went to brown and lasted three days and this is the first time it happens to and this is before my period and i took a pregnancy test and it was negative and t)ree days ago i take another one n it came out negative andi che,ked it today n see a very faint line so a take one today n it came out negative n i see it again and i see a very faint line what does this mean im confused and my period is due this friday

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  • jamie

    I had a miscarriage on april 2 2014, my dr did an ultra sound and said every thing was clear. I started trying right away. Three days ago I took 3 home tests they all had faint line and a dark line. Today I started spotting like I’m gonna start my period so I don’t know if I’m pregnant or not.

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  • Cara

    Hi I done a pregnancy strip and it has a pale pink postive line what do I believe coz used other brands but they come up different x

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  • Cara

    And sorry it because I came on my period 40th May and then had some expected light bleeding 3weeks earlier before my period date coz my next one I’m suposed to be on today and I done pregnancy strip when I had the bleeding aswel and it still says the same result x

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  • May

    I missed my period may 28 took a test at home I got a plus sign one line was lighter but results showed up 8minutes later

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  • Brittany S

    OK so need help i took three test all have faint lines their big lines so you can see them i thought i was being crazy but the lines dident show up right away am i prego or what someone help me out

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