What Do Faint Lines on Pregnancy Tests Mean?

Discovering a faint line on a pregnancy test can be confusing, and may require further testing to learn what the result means.

Taking a home pregnancy test can trigger a wide range of emotions. Whether you’re excited to start a family or missed a period unexpectedly, waiting for your results can feel like years! 

So, when the timer finally goes off and you see a faint line – what does it mean? The short answer is, you may be pregnant. But let’s dig deeper into what causes faint line results on pregnancy tests.

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How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

To understand what faint lines mean and why they happen, it is useful to talk about how pregnancy tests work. 

At-home urine pregnancy tests detect human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone starts to be produced ~6-10 days after fertilization. The levels of hCG in your body increase rapidly during early pregnancy. If you take a test very early in your pregnancy, it may be difficult for the test to detect the levels of hCG in your urine.

Why Do Faint Lines Appear On A Pregnancy Test?

If you take a pregnancy test and see a faint line for the ‘pregnant’ line, this likely means you are pregnant. Because the test reacts to hCG in your urine, a faint line appears when levels of hCG are low, but the hormone is in your body. 

Low levels of hCG in your urine can be caused by a variety of reasons. One reason is that the test is taken early in the pregnancy. However, this may not be the case. The levels of hCG in your urine will fluctuate during pregnancy and sometimes you will get a faint line even if a previous test showed a strong, clear line. Drinking a lot of water means that the hCG in your urine will be diluted and therefore show a fainter line. If your urine is a light color, this suggests that it is less concentrated and therefore is holding less hCG.

 

Can a Faint Line Be a False Positive?

 

It is extremely unlikely that a home test shows a false positive if you have followed the instructions correctly. If your pregnancy test displays a faint line, check the expiry date on the test. If the test is expired, disregard the results and purchase a new test. You must also make sure that you followed the timing that is stated in the instructions.

What to do if you get a faint line result?

 

As we have learned, a faint line on a pregnancy test does normally suggest that you are pregnant, but there are other reasons why a faint line may occur. So what should you do now?

The next step for you is to wait a few days and take another pregnancy test. This test will help you understand your situation more, and can clarify if you are pregnant or not. Most of the time, a second pregnancy test will show a stronger and bolder line. 

If you get another faint line, make an appointment with your doctor for an in-office pregnancy test. This test is more reliable and your doctor can give you further information and clarification.