Written by Editorial Team
Just took a home pregnancy test and saw two pink lines? CONGRATULATIONS! Umm…was the second pink line very faint? If you are reading this, then most probably you are wondering “What does a faint line on a pregnancy test mean?” We understand it can be very concerning and confusing for you. We have some information here to hopefully help you out.
Home pregnancy test kits have become very common these days and most women rely on this to get a pregnancy confirmation first. It is only after they see two pink lines on these tests, do they even schedule a doctor’s visit. If you see the details on the box of your test kit, you will see they would’ve explained about two lines. The first line which is always dark, when alone denotes a negative test. The second line is what shows you are pregnant.
Now, if your second line is faint, it could still mean you are pregnant. The pregnancy test kit tests the presence of hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) in your urine. This is the hormone produced by the body once the egg gets fertilized and attaches itself to your body. As the pregnancy progresses, the hCG levels in your urine will increase.
This pregnancy test is designed to recognize hCG in your urine. This test is not advanced enough to measure the hCG levels or show you how much the pregnancy has progressed. So, when you dip the test stick in urine, the strip on the stick will show two pink lines if it picks any hint of hCG in the urine.
Even a small trace of hCG is enough to produce the second pink line on the stick. So, the faint pink line on the pregnancy test, along with the strong pink line could be because of low hCG levels. To make it simple, the second line on the pregnancy stick means there is hCG in your urine, which generally means you are in fact pregnant!
Some of the possible reasons for that extremely faint line on pregnancy test kit can be:
The hCG hormones are produced by your body only on conception. It takes about 5 days for the fertilized egg to attach itself to the body. If you test around these 5 days or right after that, the hCG levels will be low. If you see an extremely faint line on a pregnancy test and you are just a day or two late in your menstrual cycle, try taking the test a week later. In all probability, the line might be darker due to higher levels of hCG in urine.
As mentioned earlier, your body will produce more hCG as the pregnancy progresses. If sufficient levels of hCG are not produced by your body, the pregnancy itself may not be healthy. If the faint line on the pregnancy test kit does not become darker even after a week or 10 days, it could be an indication of an unhealthy pregnancy.
Chemical pregnancies are those that result in a miscarriage in the initial stages of pregnancy itself (by the 5th week or so). Such early miscarriages are more common than you would imagine. However, don’t decide based on just those pink lines. Consulting a doctor is the best course of action in this situation. So, do not lose heart or get depressed thinking you are going to have a miscarriage or an unhealthy pregnancy!
There are options to choose from when you decide on a home pregnancy test. Different brands have different sensitivities to the hCG levels in urine. So, when you see that faint line on a pregnancy test, it is always better to double-check with another brand. The test kit should specify the sensitivity level, which is expressed in IU/L.
Lower the sensitivity, and 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.
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.
So, if you are testing sometime during the due course of the day, the faint line on the pregnancy test could be because of this very reason. Try again the next morning with your first urine.
An evaporation line is a result of urine evaporating from a pregnancy test. The track is reflected in the area where a positive result line would generally be visible. The 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.
When you take the test, ensure you check for the results within the time frame given at the back of the box.
Sometimes the faint line on the pregnancy test could be due to an insufficient urine sample. The box calls for you to use a few drops of urine in the given spot. If you have used very little sample than required then the test kit may not be able to pick up the hCG from the urine. As a result, a faint pink line on the pregnancy test may appear and sometimes you can even see the color stops changing there. This indicates the urine has not reached the end of the testing strip.
Instead of adding more drops to the test, try another test kit. Though adding drops may work out, it is no guarantee that it won’t show an “invalid” result.
If you have used more urine than required, the test will conclude as invalid. When you test the sample, you will see the strip changing color, and sometimes only the second pink line will be visible. So the faint second line on the pregnancy test when the first line is not present denotes an invalid test result.
Take another test and ensure you follow all instructions carefully and put the drops slowly.
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. Some might even tilt the test stick in many angles just to see a faint pink line on the pregnancy test.
If you can see the line without having to search for it, then there is a line. On the other hand, if you can see a mild trace of the line, then it is a faint pink line on the pregnancy test. If you just see a shadow of the second line, then it definitely is very faint and one cannot conclude from this result.
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.
If you want to test it yourself and not get help from anyone, just don’t touch the test stick. Once the sample is dropped on the given spot, let the stick rest on a flat surface and don’t touch it for a while. If you can see both the lines without having to tilt the test stick, then it is positive, if not, sorry! You can always take another test. Another negative would mean that you are not pregnant.
If you are still not convinced, buy two or more different brands of home pregnancy tests when you decide to test the second time after a few days. This time, use the same urine sample for different tests and see how faint or dark the line is. This should be able to help you decide.
Yes, it can be negative. Though traces of hCG have to be present in your urine sample even for that faint line to appear, it can still be a negative result. As suggested earlier, try testing again after a few days, with different brands. If the lines are still faint or non-existent, then it is negative.
However, if you have missed your period for the month and your menstrual cycle has still not started after 2 weeks or so, we recommend you consult a doctor. Your doctor might give you a blood test to confirm the pregnancy result and also will be able to tell you the possible reasons for the missed period.
If you have seen a faint line on a pregnancy test, you could be pregnant but might have just tested too early. Wait for a week (yes we know that can be very frustrating and stressful) and do the test again. The reason is, as pregnancy progresses, the hCG levels in your body will increase. This hormone keeps increasing throughout the pregnancy, as it is required to support a healthy pregnancy to term.
So, if you can wait a week and take the test again, you could be rewarded with two dark lines. If it is still faint, get a blood test done at your nearest lab or consult your doctor.
Different brands have different ways of showing you the result. Some may show two straight pink lines, some may show two pink lines intersecting to form a plus, and others may show just one line in the positive spot. Today, there are pregnancy test kits that show the words “positive” or “negative” as per the result. This avoids all sorts of confusion. Read the instructions carefully before you start testing.
If you get a faint line on a pregnancy test, yes it can definitely mean you are pregnant. However, we recommend you wait a few more days or a week before you can test again and then carry on with the celebrations.
The simple reason we ask you to wait after a faint line on a pregnancy test is to be sure you are pregnant. Different tests have different sensitivities to the hCG in urine, as mentioned earlier. If your test kit has very low sensitivity or if you are experiencing a chemical pregnancy, you need to verify the test result after a few days and then only confirm.
This recheck is only to ensure the faint positive line on the pregnancy test was indeed positive.
Yes, you can get a false negative result with your home pregnancy test kit. These are just strips and you may be unfortunate to get a defective strip. Sometimes, the tests may not be sensitive enough to pick the hCG in your urine and hence the second line may not even appear. If you have not followed the instructions and have made a mistake in the way you tested, you could get a negative or a faint line on the pregnancy test.
A faint negative line on a pregnancy test can indeed be very confusing and stressful. Don’t lose heart yet. Give the test another try.
The best way to avoid these confusions and stress is to get a blood test done. Consult your doctor and get the recommended pregnancy test done at a professional lab. Else, you can even walk into your nearest lab and ask them to test for hCG. They will ask for a first-morning urine sample and also take a blood test.
There have been cases where women have seen a faint line on a pregnancy test first and seen only the negative line when the test was repeated a few days later. This is very unfortunate for many but yes, it still happens.
Now moving on to reasons why you might have got a positive result first and then a negative:
Yes, it can. This is why it is recommended to see the results immediately. Exposure to oxygen can reduce the color.
Yes, you should. This can be another home pregnancy test or a lab test. This will help you confirm the test results.
In some cases, it might. In many cases, it will show invalid. Either way, it is better to test again by following the instructions carefully.
You need to test again. One cannot be sure about the results unless the lines are clear. Taking a blood test in a lab can be even better.
With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.
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