Faint Lines on a Pregnancy Test
What does it mean if you get a faint line on a pregnancy test? Are you pregnant or not?
If you’re trying to conceive, you probably get super excited and nervous every time you pee on a stick, anxiously awaiting the results. The line is faint. Are you seeing things? Is that a real result or are you crossing your eyes over a negative test?
Don’t worry—your eyes are not playing tricks on you! A faint line on a pregnancy test isusually an indicator of a positive test, rather than a negative one!
Here’s why: Home pregnancy tests measure the level of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your urine. hCG is a hormone that your body starts producing very early in pregnancy. It actually doubles or triples every few days during the first few weeks of pregnancy!
The body starts producing enough hCG to turn a test positive at least ten days after ovulation, so it’s recommended that you wait to test until then. Of course, waiting is hard, and sometimes people test early—maybe just a few days after ovulation and before a (hopefully) missed period. This period is often when that faint lines emerge: when you’re pregnant, but the levels of hCG in your urine are still fairly weak.
Other reasons for a faint line include diluted urine (which can happen if you drink a ton of liquid before you test), miscalculating the date of ovulation or your period, and yes, sometimes even because of an expired or bad test. What’s more, different brands or types of pregnancy tests have different levels of sensitivity—when you’re looking, choose one with the lowest mIU/L number, which means it’s the most sensitive to hCG. A test that isn’t that sensitive might show a faint line, while another would show a stronger line.
Some women see shadowy lines on their pregnancy test because they are reading the results after the recommended time in the test’s directions. These lines are called evaporation lines because they show up as the urine evaporates from the test.
Another possible reason for a fake line a chemical pregnancy, when the body produces hCG because of a fertilized egg, but the pregnancy ends in miscarriage in the first few days or weeks. In this case there can be leftover levels of hCG in your system, even though you’re not pregnant anymore.
One final factor: We’re all different! Some women’s bodies produce a strong amount of hCG right away, while others take longer to rev up the hormones.
We know, it’s a little overwhelming—there are quite a few reasons why you might get a faint line! But we want to stress that if you do see one of those pesky faint lines on a test, it actually is a good sign that you’re probably pregnant. If you want to see a stronger positive, wait a few days and test again.