What Does a Faint Line on a Pregnancy Test at Home Actually Mean?

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Are you staring at a faint line on pregnancy test?

I’ve been there before, wondering if that line meant I was pregnant or if it was some cruel trick. When you’re waiting, desperately, to get pregnant, that faint line is like torture.

When you pick a positive pregnancy test, you expect the line to be a bold pink, but that’s not always the case.

A faint line on a pregnancy test means that the test detected the pregnancy hormone, so you are pregnant. In some rare circumstances, a pregnancy test might give a line that looks positive but is not, and those are called evaporation lines. However, in most cases, a faint line indicates pregnancy.

1. Testing Too Early

It’s easy to get excited and test before you miss your period. A lot of pregnancy tests at home are more sensitive nowadays, and some claim that they can detect a pregnancy seven days before you miss your period.

However, the earlier that you test, the fainter the line will be. Once the egg implants into the uterine walls, it starts to generate pregnancy hormones which double every 48 to 72 hours. Most home pregnancy tests can detect hormone levels between 10-25 mIU/ML, but it might take several days after implantation to reach those levels. So, if the test detects as low as 10 MIU and your levels are 11 mIU/ml, the line will be very faint.

2. Diluted Urine

To get a positive test early in pregnancy, you need concentrated urine. If you drink a lot of water and don’t wait several hours in between urinations, then your urine will be diluted, and the test results can read faint. That’s why most doctors recommend using first-morning urine – FMU – because it’s highly concentrated after sleeping all night.

3. A Failed Pregnancy

Unfortunately, not all pregnancies work out, and a faint line can be an indicator of a failed pregnancy. It can be two things: a chemical pregnancy or hormones from a miscarriage. We discuss chemical pregnancies below, but a faint line that doesn’t get darker might indicate a chemical pregnancy. That’s just a fancy word for a very early miscarriage.

The other option is that a faint line indicates an impending miscarriage. If the line is getting lighter, a miscarriage could be coming in the next few days. Also, if you take a pregnancy test too soon after you had a miscarriage, you might get a faint line due to leftover pregnancy hormone in your body.

4. Test Isn’t Sensitive

Not all pregnancy tests are the same. Some are sensitive, which means they can detect HCG, the pregnancy hormone, at lower levels than other tests. So, if you purchase a test that isn’t as sensitive and doesn’t read a low level of HCG, the test result might show a faint line rather than the darker line you expected.

5. Evaporation Line

Before taking a pregnancy test, make sure that you read the directions. Most will tell you not to read your test after 10 minutes because it can cause a faint line to develop. These lines are called evaporation lines, and they appear after a negative test has dried. Tests are meant to be read three to five minutes after taken when they’re still damp.

After this time frame passes, the urine dries to the test, and the ink makes its way across the screen. Sometimes, when that ink moves, it will accidentally get caught in the indent line. As the test dries and the urine evaporates, the ink is pulled to the surface and gets darker. That’s an evaporation line on pregnancy test.

So, if you didn’t see a faint line within 10 minutes of reading the test, remember that it’s no longer valid, and those results are likely wrong.

How Does a Pregnancy Test Work?

Both types of pregnancy tests work similar, but blood tests are more sensitive and accurate than urine tests. Let’s look at how a pregnancy test works.

Urine Test

A urine pregnancy test is a home pregnancy test, and the results are based on the detection of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin – HCG – in your urine. If the test detects levels of HCG, then the pregnancy test gives a positive result. If no HCG is detected, then the test comes back negative.

All urine pregnancy tests are performed similarly:

  • Put the test strip in your urine stream while urinating.
  • Urinate into a cup and dip the test strip into the urine.
  • Urinate into a cup and use a dropper to put a few drops of urine on the test.

Blood Test

Blood tests are, by far, the most reliable way to test for pregnancy. Your doctor might order several blood tests to monitor your rising HCG levels in early pregnancy. Blood maintains a steady composition at all times, so it’s easy to distinguish changes in chemicals and hormones.

When Should I Take a Pregnancy Test - Morning or Evening Urine?

Usually, the best time to take a pregnancy test is in the morning when you’ve had at least a four hour hold. You’re most likely to get an accurate result if you take the test in the morning. This is especially true if your period isn’t late, so you’re testing early. At that point, you need highly concentrated urine to be able to detect HCG levels.

If you want to test later in the day, make sure you have a three to four-hour hold and limit your fluids. If you drink a lot of water in those four hours, your urine will be diluted, giving you bad results.

How to Avoid Getting a Faint Line on Pregnancy Test?

Getting a faint line on pregnancy test is frustrating. Here is how to avoid getting a faint line on a pregnancy test.

  • Take a home pregnancy test that can detect low levels of HCG around 10 to 15 mIU/ml. First Response Early Response is an early predicting home pregnancy test.
  • Wait until you missed your period before testing or take a day or two before your period is due. Any sooner will lead to a very faint line.
  • Take the test the first thing in the morning before you drink any fluids.

What If The Line Doesn’t Get Darker?

Sometimes, you get a few faint line on pregnancy tests, but the lines never get darker. What could that mean? Here are a few possibilities.

1. Chemical Pregnancy

Chemicals pregnancies are common, affecting as many as 75 percents of pregnancies. Many women have no idea that they had a chemical pregnancy because its a loss that occurs before the fifth week of pregnancy. Your period might be a day or two late, and you start to bleed and assume that it’s your period.

Chemical pregnancies can happen for a variety of reasons such as problems with the uterus, abnormal hormone levels, infections, blood clotting disorders, or implantation issues.

2. Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancies can also occur in the cervix, ovary, or abdominal cavity. The embryo is unable to survive and grow outside of the uterus, but it does produce HCG. Ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening, so your doctor needs to provide immediate treatment.

3. Missed Miscarriage

A missed miscarriage happens when the egg is fertilized, implants into the uterus, but fails to grow. Sometimes, an embryo didn’t form or was unable to progress, most commonly due to chromosomal problems.

Unfortunately, you have no idea that something is wrong because you don’t have the typical signs of miscarriage, such as bleeding and cramping. The HCG levels eventually start to drop, but that can take time.

Average HCG Numbers for Pregnancy

HCG numbers differ for each pregnancy. When you look at the average HCG numbers, remember that it’s referring to weeks from your last menstrual period.

  • 3 Weeks: 5-50 mIU/ml
  • 4 Weeks: 5-426 mIU/ml
  • 5 Weeks: 18-7,340 mIU/ml
  • 6 Weeks: 1,080-56,500 mIU/ml
  • 7-8Weeks: 7,650-229,000 mIU/ml

If your doctor asks you to have a blood test, don’t worry if your first number is low. That means you might be early in your pregnancy. You need to have a second test 48-72 hours later to determine how quickly the HCG levels are doubling to determine if this pregnancy might be successful.

When Should I Call a Doctor?

If you have questions or concerns about a faint positive pregnancy test, you should give your doctor a call. He can order a urine or blood test to determine if you’re pregnant. Sometimes, they’ll order at least two tests to be sure the levels are rising at an appropriate rate.

Remember that a faint line on pregnancy test could mean several things, and many of them aren’t bad results. It often means that you’re pregnant, and you need to wait to see what the outcome of the pregnancy. Waiting can be difficult. Plan to take another pregnancy test in a day or two.

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