Mother and Baby

What does a faint line on a pregnancy test mean?

faint line on a pregnancy test

If you are trying to conceive, often the easiest way to check if you've been successful is by buying a pregnancy test. Once you've bought a test, you need to know when you can take them and how to read them properly. To make sure the test works, a simple tip is to wee in a clean plastic cup first and then place 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.

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!

What does a faint line on a pregnancy test mean?

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. 

Why is the line faint?

Pregnancy tests work by measuring the levels of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your urine. The line could be faint because the levels of the hormone are low. 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).

Can a faint line indicate no pregnancy?

If there is a somewhat visible line on the test, 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 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(the weeing in a cup tip helps make it more accurate, not to mention easier and less messy to do!), the test is out of date, you read the test after the wait time indicated on the packet or you have a medical condition that is altering the levels of hormones in your urine. Certain fertility treatments may alter your levels 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. If you get a similar result, perhaps wait a few more days to do another one. As the faint line is likely to indicate very early stages of pregnancy, it is a good idea to brace yourself for the possibility of miscarriage as many pregnancies do not survive the first few weeks.


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Catriona originally joined the team as an Editorial Assistant to work on the 2019 M&B Awards. As a Digital Writer, she has written and updated hundreds of articles on the site from medical explainers to celebs news and shopping galleries.

Catch her running along the Thames or eating her way around London's restaurants.


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