In nearly all cases, a faint line on a pregnancy test does indicate a positive result, meaning you are pregnant. Some tests may return a very clear and obvious result, whereas with others you may find you can barely make out the line. Different pregnancy tests from different brands may also differ in terms of the way they look.
Once you've done the test if all you can see is a faint line, you might be unsure whether you are pregnant or not. Fear not, we are here to explain what that faint line suggests!
Why is the line faint?
Pregnancy tests work by measuring the levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin, hCG, in your urine.
These days, pregnancy tests are getting more and more advanced, and are able to detect pregnancy much earlier on. The line could be faint because the levels of the hormone are low, but still enough for the test to detect hCG.
The volume of hCG in the body depends on how far along you are so a faint line is most likely suggesting that you are at the very early stages of pregnancy (meaning it has only been a few days since the semen fertilised the egg), but it is still a positive pregnancy test result - it just means you're still in the early pregnancy stages.
If you're in any doubt, double check you've done the test properly by doing another one by weeing in a clean plastic cup first and then placing the tip facing down in the cup. Most pregnancy tests will give instructions on how long to leave the test in a cup or in your urine stream to get an accurate result.
Can a faint line indicate no pregnancy?
If there is a somewhat visible line on the pregnancy test results, no matter how faint, it is very likely that you are pregnant. Most instructions provided with the tests will explain the possibility of a faint line and what it means and in most cases, it will be a positive result.
False positives only tend to occur if:
1. The test has been done incorrectly (the weeing in a cup tip helps make it more accurate, not to mention easier and less messy to do!)
2. The test is out of date
3. You read the test after the wait time indicated on the packet, causing an evaporation line - a slight streak that appears after a negative test has dried
4. You have a medical condition that is altering the levels of hormones in your urine (certain fertility treatments may alter your concentrations of hCG so it is a good idea to check this with your doctor)
What should I do if I get a faint line on a pregnancy test?
One simple option is to do a second test a few days later which should hopefully provide you with a much clearer and stronger result. If you get a similar faint positive result or if your line becomes more faint in the following days, it may be a sign of early miscarriage as many pregnancies do not survive the first few weeks, also referred to as a chemical pregnancy.
If you get a negative result and still think you're pregnant, wait a few days and try again. Speak to your GP if you get a negative result after a second test but your period has not arrived.
If you're still struggling to get a clear reading, speak to your GP about having a blood test. Doctors offer two types of blood test, one very similar to the pregnancy test at home which just analyses whether pregnancy hormones are present, and a quantitative blood test (or the beta hCG test). This is a more accurate test as it measures the exact amount of hCG in your blood, even if the levels of hCG are very low.