How do you interpret an extremely faint line on pregnancy test ?

This is a common question when you are using ultra-early detection pregnancy test strips and one that can cause a lot of heartaches. The photograph below was supplied by a customer asking this very question. In fact, when we first looked at the photograph we could not see any line at all.

Our advice would be to ignore a line as faint as this and count it as a negative. Wait 48 hours and repeat the pregnancy test using a first-morning urine and see if the line is any stronger. Alternatively, you could try using a digital pregnancy test as this does not require the interpretation of lines.

We have recently heard about an online trend for digitally enhancing faint lines on pregnancy test strips to make them look more positive. This is not a good idea and will only lead to false hopes. The faint line that you are seeing me just be the test medium that is embedded into every test strip. If you digitally enhance this it may look like a positive, when it is, in fact, a negative. Some people mistakenly interpret these extremely faint lines as false positives when in fact they were negative.

Faint line pregnancy test
An extremely faint line on a pregnancy test strip

What we are looking for is a BFP (Big Fat Positive ) and this should be obvious to the naked eye. You should be able to see it clearly and it should not require a magnifying glass or digitally enhancing. It should resemble the Control line that is very clearly visible on this test strip above. As the pregnancy progresses the test line will get stronger in colour as more pregnancy hormone is present in the urine.

If you would like more information read our FAQ section about using ultra-early detection pregnancy tests and the pros and cons

 

My pregnancy test shows a faint line, what does this mean ?

This is a common question

Here are some possible explanations:

You did the pregnancy test and it was negative.

You then left the test in the toilet and next time you went to the toilet you noticed a very faint line had developed. What does this mean?

First thing to say is that in my experience it is best not to read anything into this if it was outside the time period during which you can read the pregnancy test. It will tell you the time in the instructions of the test. It varies slightly from test to test but most tests should not be read after 10 minutes, even less for some.

If you get a positive result within the set time that is fine-it will stay positive.

However a faint line apperaing after the test time should be ignored, and the pregnancy test repeated after 48 hours with a first morning urine sample.

You did not do the test on a first morning urine sample or the urine is very dilute

A faint positive test result within the allocated time set out in the pregnancy tests instructions may mean that the concentration of pregnancy hormone in the urine sample is fairly low (hence the faint line) Retest in 48 hours using your first morning urine sample as this is much more concentrated generally.

The pregnancy hormone doubles about every 48 hours in a early pregnancy so will be present in a higher concentration after a further 48 hours, and so should give a stronger line on your pregnancy test.

This is not an exact science as everyones urine concentration varies and the rate at which the hcg (pregnancy hormone) is produced can vary from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy depending on lots of factors. You could also try using a more sensitive pregnancy test as they detect lower levels of hcg and hence may give a darker line.

It is very early in the pregnancy and the hcg levels are still very low

It may simply be that you are testing very early. We all like to see a strong dark line on the pregnancy test. It is somehow more comforting than a faint line.

If you are testing early as many of us now do then the line may be faint initially as the hormone levels are lower than if you are testing from the 1st day of the missed period

Main points I find useful to remember when doing a pregnancy test

  • read the instructions that come with the pregnancy test you are using. They do vary from brand to brand and the time that you read the result can be different for different brands.
  • have everything you need ready in the bathroom-some pregnancy tests require you to do a urine sample into a cup. The number of times I have got up in the morning all groggy, gone to bathroom, had a wee and then thought-OMG I was supposed to do my pregnancy test today ! Get everything ready the night before (including a timer if you have one) so its the first thing you see when you go in the bathroom-you could even put a ‘post it’ on the toilet-lol
  • wait the allocated time-I find it helpful to use a timer (you are allowed to peep-it is so exciting it is hard to resist)
  • I find it best not to go back to a negative test & read it again after the allocated time. I usually throw the negative test in the bin with all the rubbish, so I will resist looking at it again
  • use a first morning urine sample if you can-the most concentrated of the day. This is particularly important if you are testing before your missed period

Hope you find these tips helpful

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