Home pregnancy tests are so common these days that most women use them at the very first sign of pregnancy. Ideally, if you are pregnant, you will see 2 dark lines on the pregnancy test stick. But sometimes, you will see one dark line (which indicates there is no pregnancy) and a faint second line which may put doubt on whether you are really pregnant or not. And this could be confusing for you.
Faint pregnancy line

The Second Line Was Faint. Am I Pregnant?

Most likely, yes. As a rule, any second line that is seen on a pregnancy stick, even if it is just a faint line, is noted as positive.
To understand this answer, you need to know how a home pregnancy test works. When you become pregnant – that is, when the embryo attaches itself successfully to the uterus – then your body secretes a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). This usually happens 5-6 days after fertilization (the time taken by the fertilized egg to move from the fallopian tube to the uterus). The amount of hCG continues to increase rapidly if you are pregnant. As a result, there will be traces of hCG in your urine. The home pregnancy test kits essentially tests the urine for traces of hCG.
Now technically, the second line appears only if there was some trace of hCG in the urine. And hCG will be present in the urine only if you are pregnant. So, whether faint or not, the second line most likely indicates that you are pregnant, though the presence of hCG is pretty less as of now in your urine. Congratulations!

Why Does A Faint Line Appear On A Pregnancy Test?

There can be multiple reasons why the line is faint:

  1. You are in early pregnancy: If you are too early in your pregnancy, this could be one of the reasons why there is not enough hCG in your urine. Try testing after a week or so and see if you get a darker line. Know more when you should ideally take a pregnancy test at home
  2. Chemical pregnancy: In rare cases, it can indicate that you are not producing healthy amounts of hCG and that the pregnancy is not healthy. So, if after a week, the line does not become darker, consult a doctor. Chemical Pregnancy is used to describe an “Early Miscarriage”. Chemical pregnancies are miscarriages that happen very early in your pregnancy (by the fifth week) and it happens in 50%-60% of first-time pregnancies. It is nothing to worry about. It does not mean a miscarriage might happen again
  3. Pregnancy test sensitivity: The test kit is less sensitive to hCG. Different test kits have different sensitivity towards hCG detection. Your test kit box should specify this number. Lower the sensitivity, better the results would be. For instance, a sensitivity of 20 IU/L can detect very faint traces of hCG. But a test of 40 IU/L or above may not detect smaller traces of hCG. So in this case a more sensitive pregnancy test kit may end up showing you a darker line- the more sensitive the kit, the better they detect the pregnancy
  4. Diluted urine: It is generally recommended to use first morning urine for pregnancy testing. The reason is that early morning urine has more concentrated hCG levels than urine throughout the day. This is because as you drink water and other fluids during the day, the hCG levels get diluted and the results may vary. Always test the first urine when you get up in the morning
  5. Evaporation line: An evaporation line is a result of urine evaporating from pregnancy test. The line is reflected in the area where a positive result line would normally be visible. Evaporation line does not have any color and looks more like a shadow. It usually shows up after the time frame in which the test calls for
How Faint Is Faint On A Pregnancy Test Kit?

Of course, we all have different definitions for “faint”. And when we really want to see a line, faint or not, we end up seeing or imagining one. One way to assess the existence of the second line is to show the stick to your husband. If he can see the line too, then bingo! There is hCG in the urine. If he does not, then wait for a few days and take the test again. Another negative would mean that you are not pregnant.
hCG hormone

Can A Faint Line On A Pregnancy Test Kit Be A “False Positive”?

This is very unlikely unless if you have done the test wrongly. The reasons by which the test could go wrong are:

  • You are using a test kit that has expired. Make sure that you check the expiration date on your pregnancy test kit as well as the instructions to store it. An expired test kit or inappropriately stored pregnancy test kit may not give accurate results
  • You did not follow the timelines mentioned in the test kit (i.e. you are looking at the results long after you were supposed to look)
  • In some cases, rare tumors can produce hCG in the body so a pregnancy test would detect the same but you might not be pregnant
  • You are taking some medications that have resulted in a change of composition of your urine, which affected the results
  • You are undergoing fertility treatment and have taken hCG injection as a part of it, which resulted in traces of hCG being present in the urine – though that may not indicate a pregnancy. In such a case, your doctor would advise you on when should you test for pregnancy

So, you got a faint line. What should you do now? Take a breather and relax. Do not announce your pregnancy yet. Wait for few more days, retake your home pregnancy test and watch out for the line again. You may also want to try different brands of home pregnancy kits with different levels of sensitivity or you could also visit your Gynecologist and have him or her run a blood test.
Don’t surround yourself with any kind of doubt, go ahead and take a retest to confirm the pregnancy. Here’s wishing you all the very best!