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.
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.
With so many pregnancy test kits on the market how do I know which one to use ?
If you have missed your period and you are looking for a pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy then any chemist pregnancy test will do the job really well, and should hopefully give you a positive result. All modern home & professional pregnancy tests are very sensitive & accurate and false positives are rare. False negatives usually occur when the test is done too early or at the wrong time of day, so there is insufficient of the pregnancy hormone hcg in the urine sample.
If you looking for the cheapest pregnancy tests you will probably need to go online to purchase them. Pregnancy test strips are far cheaper than the leading brands of home pregnancy tests as they contain far less packaging and the technology is far simpler. You will be required to look for two lines on the test strip to confirm a positive pregnancy. They can also be bought in a range of sensitivities and can be bulk bought, if you are doing repeat or early testing before the missed period.
If you are testing early i.e. before you have missed a period , you will need to use an early detection pregnancy test kit which detects a lower level of the pregnancy hormone hcg in your urine sample. False positive can sometimes occur when you are doing very early pregnancy testing before the missed period, when you get a BFP followed several days later by a negative result or a period. This is usually referred to as a chemical pregnancy and means that for some reason the pregnancy did not continue.
Ultra early pregnancy tests have been around now for about 8-10 years. They detect a lower level of the pregnancy hormone hcg ( human chorionic gonadotrophin ) than normal pregnancy tests, and so can be used to detect pregnancy even before the period has been missed. Ultra early pregnancy tests detect just 10mIu of the pregnancy hormone hcg which means they can detect a pregnancy at a very early stage. Hcg increases dramatically in the first 3 months of pregnancy from less than 5mIU/ml to over 100,000mIU/ml and it is the huge rise in this hormone that is responsible for many of the symptoms of early pregnancy including morning sickness.
How do I perform the pregnancy test using a test strip ?
Collect a fresh urine sample, ideally first morning void , in a clean dry container. The container does not need to be sterile.
Read the instructions before you start the test. You will need a timer to time the test as timing is very important. Most mobile phones have a timer you can set to the correct time.
take the strip carefully out of the foil. Hold the strip at the handle end and avoid touching the strip end that will go into the urine as grease from your hands can interfere with the test
Immerse the strip into the urine sample up to the the maximum dip line and leave it there for 3-4 seconds so that it can absorb the urine. Do not dip it any deeper than the max dip line.
remove the pregnancy test strip from the urine sample and lie it flat. Start the timer and time it for the specified time in the instructions. This may vary slightly from brand to brand.
When the timer goes read the result. You should have a control line showing . This means the pregnancy test strip has worked properly. Now look for the test line. A visible test line on the strip means the test is positive. An absent T line means the test is negative.
You can only read the result at the specified time after you started the test. Do not come back to the test later and read it as this will not be an accurate result.
Important factors to consider when using an ultra early pregnancy test:
As ultra early pregnancy tests detect very low levels of hcg , it is best to test on your first urine void of the day, as this is usually more concentrated and so the pregnancy hormone hcg levels will be usually be higher at this time of day.
Follow the instructions and wait the allocated time as per the instructions (usually a few minutes ) before you read the result. Because the levels are much lower in very early pregnancy the result may take a little longer to show then later in pregnancy.
You will need to be prepared to re-test. A positive pregnancy test before the missed period should be confirmed 72 hours later and you would hope to see a the positive result developing more quickly on the test line indicating increasing hormone levels.
You may detect a pregnancy that will then fail to progress. In this case you will get a positive pregnancy test followed by a negative pregnancy test. This is one of the down side of testing for pregnancy early. If you had not tested you would never have known that you were pregnant.
False positives can occur if there has been a recent miscarriage or pregnancy
False negatives can occur with ultra sensitive pregnancy tests. If you do the test before the hcg levels have exceeded 10mIU in the urine sample you will get a negative result. This does not mean that you are not pregnant, it may just be that you have tested too early or you’re urine sample was too dilute. In this situation you should wait 48 hours and retest with a fresh urine sample (the first urine that you do in the morning after rising is the most concentrated)
Most home pregnancy test these days have very high accuracy usually quoted at around 98-99% accuracy, if, and this is the important bit, used according to manufacturers instructions.
What does this actuually mean ?
The quoted accuracy figures refer to clinical trials and the rate of pick up of pregnancy in pregnant womens urine, in which the level of pregnancy hormone in the urine sample is greater than the detection level of the test and where the test is being performed by someone who is familiar with the testing process. Quite often the test is being performed in a lab.
This does not mean that if you use the test it will have a 99% chance of detecting pregnancy every time. If the pregnancy is very early the pregnancy hormone (Hcg) may not be sufficiently high to give a positve result on the pregnancy test that you are using. This can cause confusion as many women are now testing for pregnancy before the missed period when the hcg levels are still very low.
Factors that affect the accuracy of the home pregnancy test:
whether the pregnancy test is performed correctly-make sure you read and follow the instructions that the manufacturer has provided. Not all pregnancy tests are the same and user error is common if you are not familiar with that particular brand of pregnancy test.
how concentrated is the urine sample-it is always best to do a pregnancy test on the urine that you product first thing in the morning on rising from bed, as this is the most concentrated. Often refeered to by doctors as the ‘1st morning void’
What is the sensitivity of the home pregnancy test that you are using ? The lower the mIU detection level of the pregnancy test the more sensitive is the pregnancy test ie a 10mIU pregnancy test will detect pregnancy earlier than a 25mIU pregnancy test. Some brands of pregnancy test do not disclose the detection level of the test-in this case look for a pregnancy test that says very early detection or ultra early detection if you are testing before your missed period, as these should be more sensitive than a standard home pregnancy test.
Make sure that you time the pregnancy test and read the result at the correct time-this varies from brand to brand so it is important to read the instructions fully before you start.
If you followed all the instrucions and the result is negative, this does not necessarily mean that you are not pregnant. It may just mean that the pregnancy hormones have not reached a sufficiently high level to give a positive pregnancy test on the particular brand of pregnancy test that you are using. If this is the case and you have not started your period then wait 48 hours (if you can ) and do another pregnancy test on a 1st morning void.
Hope this information is helpful to you. Any questions or comments e-mail us or post in comments
Since its launch in the UK the Clearblue Digital with Conception Indicator has been very popular as it offers something that no previous home pregnancy test has been able to offer: it tells you when you conceived
If your periods are erratic, or you have not kept a record of your menstrual cycle this can be very useful.
Key points regarding the Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Conception Indicator:
It tells you when you conceived (conception indicator is 92% accurate in detecting when you conceived)
Shows how many weeks since conception (either 1-2 weeks, 2-3 weeks or 3+ weeks)
over 99% accurate in detecting pregnancy (if used from the day your period is due) in clinical trials conducted in UK
is very sensitive & can be used up to 4 days before your period is due
gives easy to interpret results within 3 minutes
clear ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’ result
make sure you read the leaflet inside the box before your perform the test
Have you tried one yet ?
Now is a great time to try them, as we have Clearblue Double Digital Pregnancy Tests with conception indicator for just £8.40