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How to Read a Pregnancy Test: 3 Best Tips

on May 26, 2012

by Lucy Eades

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OMG! Is that a faint line that you see? Just follow 3 easy steps to accurately read your home pregnancy test and know for sure.

Let’s discuss positive and negative home pregnancy tests.

Step 1 – Read the directions

Most HPTs today guarantee a 99.9% accuracy by the 1st day of your missed period when used properly. Now since each brand can vary from test-to-test, make sure that you read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Step 2- Place test in your urine stream

Typically with the midstream test, you want to open up the package, take the cap off of the home pregnancy test, now this is the absorbent tip and this is the part of the test that you want to pee on. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here So you want to place it downwards into the path of your urine. You can either take your thumb and cover up the result window to make sure that you don’t get any urine on it altering your result or either you could take the test and turn it away from you facing the ground and then pee on it for roughly 10 seconds.

Step 3- Replace cap and wait 5 minutes

When you’re done, take the cap, place it back on the home pregnancy test, and then you want to lay it horizontally on a dry flat surface. Wait about 5 minutes before you read the result. I know this may feel like an eternity when you’re anxiously awaiting the news!

Wondering when to test? Do you have to wait for your missed period? Use this handy pregnancy calculator to determine what day is the best day to test. Check out step-by-step instructions on how the pregnancy calculator works.

What about false negatives & false positives?

Now some women choose to keep their sanity by not testing too early. You can see possible false negatives or you could even see a faint second line. It can leave you in agony trying to analyze the test results using sunlight, flashlights, staring at it wondering is it actually there? Am I seeing things? And especially women that are trying to conceive, you want to see it so bad that you start questioning yourself, “Am I making myself see a second line that doesn’t actually exist?”

Two lines, +, or ‘pregnant’

However not all tests nowadays just require two lines. Some have a positive sign (+) and some have them are clear as day with saying PREGNANT or NOT PREGNANT. These tend to be a little pricier, of course, but they do take the guessing out of it. Now I actually have some tests laying around that I want to give you an example with. This is a Clearblue Easy and this test reads ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not pregnant.’

The next test I have is a midstream test and it works basically the same way as this one. Except for this is a smaller test strip, and this is a midstream applicator test. The only difference is the size, and that one has a longer applicator for ease of use than the smaller ones. However they work identically. One line for negative, two lines for positive.

And the last test I have on hand is an Equate test. Now the control line on this one will have a line for negative or positive but the second one has a positive (+) sign for positive pregnancy test and just one line for a negative pregnancy test. It looks like a positive and then negative.

What if my test is negative?

Now if you take a pregnancy test and you get a negative yet you still suspect pregnancy, wait roughly 2-3 days before testing again. This will allow your HCG levels enough time to double giving you possibly a different result with your home pregnancy test. A positive pregnancy test will not be able to tell you if you’re experiencing a healthy pregnancy or miscarriage. Even if your body is already experiencing a miscarriage, your test can still show positive until your HCG levels have dropped enough for the pregnancy test to result in a negative. This can take days, sometimes even weeks for some.

So unless you’re taking fertility drugs that contain HCG, if you get a positive home pregnancy test, Congratulations! You’re pregnant.

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How to Read a Pregnancy Test: 3 Best Tips, 4.4 out of 5 based on 19 ratings

Lucy is a mother of three, who’s passionate about all things AP parenting. When she’s not busy giving tips on keeping babies healthy & happy, you can find her blogging on her popular YouTube channel

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  • CaliMiller

    Holy cow this stuff really works!! Positive test reading here!! I had taken the pills for little over 1 month and yep I am pregnant!!  I took like all of them just to make sure!! I can’t believe it!!! I even called to ask if I was reading it the test correct. I just want to tell the world how great this stuff really is!! Thanks conceiveeasy!!

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  • Poornima L

    hi, my last period was on 20th october, my monthly cycle is for 27 days.but this month i missed my period, so i tested with First Response on 21st november, it came positive. But the very next day night i got little amount of blood for 3 days(slight lighter than my normal period). after this i got checked with Life digital test on 28th november, it came negative and i checked with First response also. but it was negative. so why first it gave positive and negative now. is there any miscarraige??? or still am i pregnant?? pls anybody helps me…

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  • Fdavis0813

    Hi, My last cycle was on 10/25/2012. My cycle is 32 days. I didn’t have a cycle for the whole month of November. I have taking several pregnancy test one I got a very faint line which was on a equate blue dye test. Everyone I talked to said blue dye test produce  false positives. So i have taking several pink dye test and each one of them said negative.

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  • jissuu

    when i test,one line is not clear out of two,am i pregnent?

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  • Maureen Stephens, RN

     A very faint line usually means you are pregnant, the faint line must be because your hormone level is low due to being early in the pregnancy. You may try retesting after a few days or weeks. It is best you take the test on your first morning pee because this urine typically contains the highest concentration of hcg, the pregnancy hormone. If you are still concerned, you may want to see your doctor.

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  • sofia

    I missed my periods and after third week I checked it through pregnancy strip its showing negative….

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  • wondering

    Hi, How early do the pregnancy tests in the free pack detect pregnancy?

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  • Bellaskanks

    i had a horizontal faint line.. does that mean its still negative or could i be pregnant?

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  • Claboughsgirl

    I removed my Mirena IUD on Jan. 11th during my cycle. I had a regular cycle on the 30th of Jan. Now its Feb 24th and I started bleeding on the 23rd which is 5 days early..for 2 weeks I have had almost every common sign of pregnancy minus a positive test. The bleeding is light started out as pink and very watery today it’s more red but no cramps or anything. My normal periods are horrible so this is not a typical period for me..Should I test and when? I don’t wanna be disappointed with a negative result and we are ttc however it’s just our first try so I don’t expect it but would definately welcome a pregnancy. I just don’t know if the bleeding is a period or implantation

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  • Dr. Renee Hanton, MD

    Implantantion bleeding is usually light pink to light brown in color and it usually comes 6-10 days after fertilization. You could be pregnant. You may start taking a home pregnancy test after the bleeding clears out. You may want to use your first morning urine as it contains the highest concentration of hCG (the pregnancy hormone).

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  • kelly

    wow! I started taking the pills the day they arrived, about day 8 of my cycle. Today, I was 1 day late for my period so I took BOTH the Early HPT and the strip test in this package. BOTH Positive, NOT SUPER dark, but I woke up my husband and took pictures. YES!! This stuff works. I am a Type 1 Diabetic and have had problems ttc and I am now pregant!!! Thank you

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  • Jellybellywells

    I have been wanting to get pregnant so badly lately. I had my period on the 7th of february and about 2 weeks after and then on out i’ve gotten sick every morning and feel naseous when i even think about food. Think i’m pregnant?

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  • Maureen Stephens, RN

    Those are possible signs of early pregnancy. You can have yourself check by using a pregnancy test kit. Once found out that its positive always remember to follow up with your OB. Good luck!

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  • Monica Scott, RN

    Yes, you could be pregnant. As long as you’re following proper instructions, faint lines are considered to be positive in home pregnancy test results. To be sure, I do recommend you to take another pregnancy test for consistent results.

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  • Dr. Renee Hanton, MD

    Given that you had a negative result in your pregnancy test three weeks after the first day you missed your period, there is high probability that you’re not pregnant. Your irregular cycles may be due to your hormonal imbalances thus, it is best that you avoid stress, eat right and quit unwanted habits to regulate your cycles.

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  • Dr. Renee Hanton, MD

    Since ovulation cycles usually occur after one’s menstrual period and you were able to have sex in this period of your cycle, there are good chances for you to be pregnant. You should try to take a pregnancy test 14 days after the first day you missed your period.

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  • Monica Scott, RN

    Since most of your pregnancy test results are negative, you’re most likely not pregnant. Your missed period might be due to hormonal imbalances, which are commonly caused by stress and hormonal deficiencies. In order for you to normalize your hormonal levels and regulate your cycles, I do recommend that you take fertility supplements such as Vitex and Clomid.

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  • Dr. Christine Lee, MD

    There is a good likelihood that you might be pregnant, given that your spotting might be due to implantation bleeding. Miscarriages are least likely to happen, since you’re still just in your early weeks of conception. Given that you took the test early; your home pregnancy test results might be inaccurate, and it is best that you take another pregnancy test 14 days after the first day that you have missed your period for a reliable result.

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  • Meme

    Hi :) I got my last period on 2/4/2013 and then missed my May period, I tested about 2 weeks after when my period should have been and it came back negative, and I tested again a week later and it was still negative. I also had a blood test that was negative. Since then I’ve only been able to have periods after taking provera, I’m not really sure what’s going on since I had pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and fatigue but no sore breasts or anything like that, I really have no idea what’s going on! Could I still be pregnant?

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  • Dr. Prabha Sahgal, MD

    Congratulations! Now that you’re already pregnant, I do suggest that you try to visit your doctor regularly for prenatal check-ups in order for you to have a check on your baby’s development. I also recommend that you avoid stress, start taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements in order for you to prevent the risks of miscarriages and for a healthy pregnancy along the way.

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  • Maureen Stephens, RN

    Since your pregnancy test results have showed negative, there is a least chance for you to be pregnant as of the moment. Your nausea and fatigue is most probably due to hormonal imbalances, and it is best that you start taking herbal fertility supplements to help normalize your hormonal levels. I do suggest that you increase your sexual intercourse, avoid stress and regularly track down your menstrual cycles in order for you to improve your likelihood of conceiving.

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  • Suzee

    Hi, We made out just this one time during the fertile period so I am just wondering (feverishly hoping) if I could still be pregnant? last period – 12 July, Intercourse on – 26th Jul, tested negative on 06th and 07th Aug. Please advise ?

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  • confusedly

    My period was due August 7. I am now 8 days late. I took three pregnancy tests and two had very faint lines on them. one was just negative. Im confused. Any advice?

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  • Monica Scott, RN

    Faint lines on the pregnancy test may indicate that there is not enough hCG (the pregnancy hormone) in your system to confirm a positive result. You may want to take another pregnancy test two weeks after your missed period date for a more reliable result.

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  • Bev

    Is it possible that you might have the implantation bleeding around 10 days after your period is due? I don’t know if its a late period or spotting but I had the emergency pill around 6 weeks ago (having sex in between then and now) and I don’t know what my body is up to!

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  • stac

    Hi my last peiod was 18/122013 had sex on 31122013 havent seen my period for the month of january and its 27/12014 and I’m feeling my stomach like am constipated I feel upset my boiyfriend gets sick so I decided to take a test and it showed nagative I have taken two test bt still shows negative I’m not feeling no symptoms of having period.I’m just feeling funny.not sure if I did the test well please help me with my problem is there a posibility to be pregnant

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  • kayla

    Hi took a equate test Because I was 4 days late on my period it came out positive I also started my period the same day . It was pretty normal , so I waited till I was off my period and took another test and it came out negative . Im so confused please help !!!!!

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  • kayla

    Hello I recently took a equate test and the same day I started my period and the test it came out positive I wait till I was off to test again and it came out negative. Im confused please help!!!!

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  • Ree

    Hi.
    My home pregnancy test lines have been getting darker (positive for the last 3 days), but I have been having light bleeding for the last 3 days, and cramps which stopped yesterday after I passed a relatively large clot.
    What does this all mean please?

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  • Serenity2787

    I am curious. In some women is it possible to not get a positive from a HPT until much later in the first trimester? And do things factor into this, such as health issues like diabetes, PCOS, some infertility and hormone imbalance. I have PCOS and have been TTC for about 5 months now. I have had 4 periods this year and have tracked my ovulation by BBT for the past month or 2. I assume that I do ovulate by the temperature rise at around the same time each month. Since I do have irregular periods this is not a reliable factor for suspecting pregnancy for me. My symptoms have been heavy bloating, constipation, slight nausea, smell sensitivity, strange after taste on occasion, slight cramps, slightly sore breasts, I have also been craving a lot of salty foods. My period is past due I should have just gotten off of it. But my test results from the HPT was negative. I did the test during the day. Is this a clear sign of pregnancy? Should i talk to my doctor about getting a blood test? And if I should is there any particular way to ask?

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  • Heather

    I am five days late for my period. My breasts are sensitive and I have been eating like crazy. I took three pregnancy test and two out of the three said I wasn’t. I waited to take the third for a few days. I took it earlier this morning and it said negative, but when I put a light behind the test there is a positive line, am I pregnant? There is no negative line and there isn’t an evap line. The test has looked like this since I took it.

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