Getting pregnant > Testing for pregnancy > Faint positive - what does this mean?

Faint positive - what does this mean?

Does a faint positive line on a pregnancy test mean you're expecting? - We share advice on interpreting this confusing result.
Home pregnancy tests should be so straight forward; you simply pee on a stick and wait a couple of minutes to find out what you'll be doing in nine months time. Unfortunately, test results aren't always this clear cut and can leave you feeling really confused - what happens if you get a faint positive?

Is a faint line a positive?

Home pregnancy tests work by detecting levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) in your urine. This is only produced once a fertilised egg implants in your uterus (something that occurs between 6 - 10 days after ovulation) so assuming you have tested correctly you can take a faint positive symbol to mean you're pregnant.

As levels of hCG double almost daily throughout the early stages of pregnancy the longer you wait to test the more clear and accurate the results will be. If you get a really faint test result it can be best to wait for a couple of days and then re-test; if you are pregnant a clearer line will show.

What causes faint positives?

Mis-testing

When you take a home pregnancy test it's really important that you read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly or you may compromise the reliability of the results. If you get a faint result on both lines or symbols of the pregnancy test it may be that there was insufficient urine exposure to produce a clear result, re-testing will help to resolve this issue.

Testing too early

As hCG is only produced after implantation, if you test too early there may be insufficient levels of this hormone present in your urine to give a strong positive result. Even if you have been charting your menstrual cycle its possible that you ovulated later than expected so testing again in a couple of days time will help to confirm your pregnancy.

Test sensitivity

Home pregnancy tests differ in the levels of hCG they are able to detect; if you get a faint positive it may be that the test you are using isn't sensitive enough to give a more conclusive result. The sensitivity of your test will be detailed on the side of the box in 'mIU' with lower numbers signifying increased sensitivity; for example a 20mIU pregnancy test will be able to detect a positive result sooner than a 50mIU test. If you get a faint positive it can be worth re-testing with a more sensitive kit.

Urine dilution

hCG levels are at their most concentrated first thing in the morning so where possible it's best to test as soon as you get up. If you test later in the day, especially after you have been drinking lots of fluid, the hCG levels in your urine will be diluted and less easy for a home pregnancy test to detect. This may cause a faint positive result especially if you are in the very early stages of pregnancy.

Evaporation lines

For an accurate result most pregnancy tests need to be read within a specified amount of time, usually 5 - 10 minutes after urine exposure (but this will be detailed on the testing box). If you notice a very faint positive symbol developing after this 'reaction time' it is likely to be an evaporation line. Evaporation lines do not signify a positive result but instead develop as urine evaporates leaving a very faint mark where the 'pregnant' symbol should be. In this instance its best to take the test result as a negative however you may like to test again in a day or so in case you conceived later than expected.

Chemical pregnancy

If you experience a very faint positive followed by a negative when you test again a couple of days later if may be that you have experienced a chemical pregnancy. This is where the fertilised egg implants but does not develop any further causing a very early miscarriage before any other pregnancy symptoms are experienced and often even before a period is missed. Some women prefer to hold off testing until a little later so that they avoid the upset of knowing if this happens but of course that is down to personal choice.

Have you been confused by the results of a pregnancy test? Share your questions and frustrations with others in a similar situation on our AskBaby Forums.

Chat or Ask a Question:

If you have a question about this article or something else, visit our friendly forums & ask the AskBaby community.

Chat about faint positive - what does this mean? with our friendly community...

Your Comments:

We'd love to hear your comments on this article...

Login to add your comment:

Email: Password:
Not yet a member? Join thousands of other parents and parents-to-be... Sign Up Now!
Forgot your
Password?

Hi I'm 20 and about 4 days ago I did a test which came back a very faint line so the next morning I decided to test again which still came back a very faint line. I then called my doctor and have a appointment on the 22nd and hope to god I find out if I deffo am pregant as I have been feeling tired and cramp feeling as well as sickness. Has anyone else had this situation please help
by sarahjane20 20th Jun 2013, 3:26pm
Hi I Did 2 Tests Last Month Which Where Both Positive . Then 1Week Later Got My Period With I Mean VERY Severe Pains In My Lower Stomach Did I Have A Mis Carriage ?? .. And Now I Have Tested 2Night And Another Positive, It Showed Up A Little Clearer After 10 Minutes Is That A Positive??? Please Help...
by JoannaDC 26th Jan 2012, 10:12am
The test will only result as a possitive pregnancy when done correctly as it says above, also when further along as after the 10th week of pregnancy the hCG levels deminish & also may not show a deffinate possitive line
by Lottie16 16th Nov 2011, 9:37am
Hi I really need help im 19, and confused. Ive been pregnant before last year so know what pregnancy symptoms feel like i unfortunately had to have a forced medical miscarriage and have been trying ever since.. but this time its different i started feeling sick about 10 days before my period was due and already had tons of the early pregnancy test so i took a test and it came back negative then i did another because my nipples became unbearably soar and i had a faint test line im now 3 days oversue my period and have done 4 more different tests!! and the test line hasnt got any stronger still faded, last time i was pregnant i had a solid positive result 1 day before i was due pleaseee help am I pregnant?? I dont know how i would cope with loseing 2 babies in a year :(
by amybabes 20th Dec 2010, 9:20am
Hey, i'm 20 and have done two pregnancy tests just recently, both showed up as positive, but about half an hour later, the line faded, what does tean? Does this mean that i'm pregnant? The second one lasted much longer than the first!
by lilprincess7 21st Sep 2010, 9:41am
hi please help i did a test yesterday it had one faint line and one slightly darker, repeated at 3.30 this morning and its showing a negative result, i have all the signs many thanks
by chloe31 21st May 2010, 3:57pm
I already have one child and when pregnant with him I had a definate positive test. 2 months ago my period was overdue by 3 days, I felt tired and my breasts were sore (typical symptoms of those I had experienced before). My partner and I did a test and the line was very very faint and we were quite confused. We left it two more days and it was still very faint, barely visible (but definately there). A day later I did another test but this time it was negitive and unfortunately I started bleeding and went on to have an early miscarraige that day. My advice would be to avoid disapointment, don't test too early as a faint line can be really worrying and usually does mean that Hcg levels are very low. So many tests are so sophisticated now that you can test before your period is even due, I think this can lead to heartache and disapointment if you go on to have a miscarraige (which happens in 1 in 4 pregnancies). a strong, positive line is a good sign, a very faint line is not so promising (when your period is more than a couple of days overdue). Good luck everyone.
by Strawberry123 18th May 2010, 4:44pm
i havent missed my period yet but am having signs of pregnancy i took a test last night and got a faint positive so i went and bought one that says not preg or preg and it was neg could i still be pregnant??
by janski2004 14th May 2010, 4:39pm
Have been taking tamoxifen for 4 cycles, for which I know my cycle are exactly 28 days long. I am now 4 days late and even though I tested twice, the results are negative. Still no signs of my period! I felt sick twice last week in the evening but apart from that there is not other sign of pregnancy.
Could I be pregnant nevertheless?
by Gondi 14th May 2010, 4:33pm
Hi, We've been trying for 7 months, fell immediately but had very early MC. Decided to stop trying as getting married next year and waiting for period to go back on pill, but 5 days late!! Taken 2 tests, one 2 days ago and another today and got faint BFP on both tests! Feel kinda icky like period on it's way so not feeling very positive, has anyone else been in this situation and should I take the faint positive as a yes!?
by 2point4 1st Feb 2010, 9:18am
I tested 4 days before my period was due with a Early pregnancy test and got a faint positive, re-tested after Af was 1 day late with an Internet cheapy strip and the positive line was so strong....If you can be patient and wait til your missed period chances are your get a nice clear BFP!!!!
by Beverley30 27th Jan 2010, 9:31am
my period is 7 days late and i did 2 tests and got very faint positive lines,my breasts are feeling very heavy and they are tender im also going to the loo alot,could i be pregnant?.
by mysticmicha 11th Jan 2010, 3:10pm
Hi,
I had 3 blood tests which were negative before now but the pregnancy signs still continues. I then did a home test last month which had a faint line as the second one. I also perceived pulsations within me but have been feeling bloated about a day ago. Planning to go for another preg. test soonest as I seem to have noticeable signs of pregnancy now. Does every negative preg. test indicate absence of pregnancy? I think exceptional cases do exist.
by wonder09 17th Sep 2009, 9:17am
My last period started on 5th January so I was due on again around 2nd February, I took a pregnancy test on 6th February which showed a very faint line (as if positive) but because it was very faint I told my partner we would test again a week later. We waited till this morning (14th Feb) to do the test again, as we wanted to use the first urine of the day to get a better reading, but this showed a clear negative, I took another test a few hours later but again it was negative. I have had no signs of my period starting (no spotting, no pains, etc) so am I pregnant or not? If this was an early miscarriage, when would I start to bleed?
by LuckyStars37 17th Feb 2009, 9:51am

Community

Popular