- A faint line on an at-home pregnancy test can mean you’re in the earlier stages of pregnancy.
- But, it can also mean the test wasn’t taken properly, so its important to follow instructions.
- If you get a faint line, start taking a prenatal vitamin and schedule a doctor’s appointment.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Understanding the results of an at-home pregnancy can feel surprisingly complicated at times. A pregnancy test measures the presence of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, which is produced by an embryo. Though not as accurate as a pregnancy test at the doctors, an at-home pregnancy test can measure hCG levels with 97 to 99 percent accuracy.
Pregnancy tests with blue or pink dye typically show one line if the result is negative and two if hCG is detected, meaning the result is positive. If you get any type of second line, even a faint one, you are pregnant, says Jennifer Lincoln, MD, an obstetrician in Oregon. “A line is a line, whether faint or dark. Any line means pregnant,” she says.
Here is what to do if you get a faint line on your pregnancy test at home according to an expert.
What does a very faint line on a pregnancy test mean?
If you take a pregnancy test and a faintly colored second line appears, it means you are pregnant. The faintness of the line can depend on when you took the test, says Lincoln. How dark the line is depends on the levels of hCG in your body and a faint line could mean you have tested “on the earlier side of your pregnancy.”
A faint line can be a negative result if you did not take the pregnancy test correctly, though. “That is, if you wait too long to read the test it can dry and leave a line that can be misinterpreted as a positive test. This is why it’s very important to read your test’s instructions and follow them exactly,” Lincoln says. Most pregnancy tests include instructions that they must be read around three to five minutes after testing, so if you see a colorless line when you examine the test strip outside of this window, the result may not be accurate and you can try to test again
“Some people who are trying to conceive test frequently, and they may see a faint line followed by no line in subsequent days,” says Lincoln. This could indicate a “chemical pregnancy,” which is a very early pregnancy loss also known as a miscarriage.
Important: If a test gets wet or is left out too long, an evaporation line, which is a faint streak may appear on a pregnancy test. This does not mean you’re pregnant. This line should be colorless, which is how you can tell the difference.
If you get a faint line on your test, Lincoln says to “consider yourself pregnant and start taking a prenatal vitamin, if you aren’t already, if you plan to continue the pregnancy.”
How long after a faint positive should I test again?
Lincoln says that if you get a faint line on your test and it concerns you, test again in the coming days. “It’s most accurate to wait until the day of when you’d expect your period to come, but with the sensitivity of our tests it is OK to start testing a few days prior.”
If an at-home pregnancy test is positive, “the majority of people don’t need a blood pregnancy test to confirm they are pregnant. And in fact, our[doctors’] urine tests are exactly the same as the ones you can buy yourself so no need to come in for those either,” says Lincoln.
There are some circumstances where a blood test might be needed: “If your healthcare provider is concerned about an
or miscarriage, or you are undergoing fertility treatments, a blood test may be recommended, but other than that they aren’t usually needed.”
If you take an at-home pregnancy test correctly and see a faint line, it either means you are pregnant or have recently been pregnant and miscarried.
The best time to test for a pregnancy is the day you would expect your period to come.
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