How does one interpret faint lines on a pregnancy test and why do they show?

A home pregnancy test can bring a bunch of worries and frustration. The test results depend on when one takes the test and what the pregnancy test lines depict. 

Almost everyone gets impatient when it comes to getting a confirmation on their pregnancy tests, and home pregnancy tests are extremely popular due to the convenience, privacy and ease they bring.

The only challenge is the confusion they bring, especially if you are early in your pregnancy.  

So if you are worried or clueless about deciphering faint lines in your pregnancy test and your Google searches on the same are leading you to nowhere, then this write-up is for you! Read on to get comprehensive guidance on interpreting faint lines in your pregnancy test and finding the peace of mind you deserve.  

How does a faint line in a pregnancy test appear? 

As per the type of pregnancy test you use, you would either see a plus or minus sign or a line or two. 

The plus sign indicates pregnancy, while the negative sign does not. Two lines indicate pregnancy, while a single line does not. 

However, if you are pregnant but are very early in your pregnancy, the line or lines would be barely visible. 

If there’s no line, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not pregnant. Instead, it could mean that there isn’t enough HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone in your body. HCG is a hormone produced by cells that would go on to become the placenta after implantation and is a common confirmation of pregnancy. 

What does a faint line on a pregnancy test mean? 

A faint line on your pregnancy test usually implies that you have already undergone implantation and are in the early stages of pregnancy. However, to confirm your pregnancy, you will need to repeat the test in a few weeks to see if the lines become thicker and more prominent. 

One can see a faint line on the pregnancy test and still get their period after a few weeks. This means that there was either no pregnancy in the first place or a brief pregnancy. In other words, the test did work, but one could have had a chemical pregnancy. A chemical pregnancy implies an early pregnancy loss. 

How do you know it’s a positive pregnancy test?

A positive result appears in two lines or a plus sign. In some cases, such as digital devices, the confirmation appears in the wording: “yes” or “pregnant”. 

What is a false positive on a pregnancy test?

You can get a positive pregnancy result even though you aren’t pregnant in rare cases. This is known as a false-positive and, needless to say, can create a lot of confusion. 

So why does a false positive pregnancy happen?

  • A false positive pregnancy happens when you go through a pregnancy loss as soon as the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining.
  • You can also get a false positive pregnancy if you take your test soon after taking a medication that has the HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone.
  • False-positive pregnancy can also occur in the cases of menopause, dysfunctional ovaries or an extrauterine pregnancy (in this pregnancy, the fertilized egg gets implanted outside the uterus). 

Regardless of the nature of your false pregnancy, we strongly recommend you to consult your GP for complete and personalized guidance. 

Can faint lines also denote a negative result? 

In most cases, faint lines result from HCG detection and can denote a true pregnancy, an early pregnancy loss or a false positive pregnancy. However, there are a few instances where faint lines on a pregnancy test can also result in negative results. 

The following presents situations wherein you might come across a faint line on your pregnancy test but are not pregnant:

  • Menopause

The levels of the luteinizing hormone reach extremely high magnitudes when a woman in menopause it perimenopause loses a period. In such a case, taking a pregnancy test would yield a false-positive result. 

  • Fertility drugs and medications

Some fertility drugs and medications have HCG content in them. So if you have been administered a fertility drug or medicine containing HCG, its levels would remain prominent for about seven days. By taking a pregnancy test during this time, you can obtain a false positive even when you’re not pregnant.

  • Early pregnancy loss

Having a chemical pregnancy or an early pregnancy loss, in general, can give you a false positive. 

  • A serious illness

In some extremely rare cases, the onset of cancer can lead to a false positive pregnancy test result.

Getting a negative test result on an actual pregnancy

You might get a negative test result in certain scenarios even though you are pregnant. Such scenarios typically include the following:

  • The results were checked too soon

More often than not, your impatience may drive you to check the results too soon! To get accurate results, you must give time for the test results to show completely. Go through the instructions and directions given in the package of the pregnancy test kit and wait for the results patiently. 

  • You’re too early in your pregnancy

Your HCG levels aren’t detectable enough to give plausible results in the early stages of pregnancy. Therefore, it is recommended to wait for a week and take the test again. 

  • Diluted urine

While dilute urine is a sign of good water intake, it can mess up your pregnancy results. This is because diluted urine makes it difficult to detect appreciable amounts of HCG in the sample. It is recommended to take the test first thing in the morning when urine has maximum concentration. However, today, most pregnancy kits are extremely sensitive to HCG and can detect the hormone easily. 

  • Expired product

Ensure that the pregnancy kit you purchase isn’t past its expiry date. 

  • Human error

It’s quite possible that you didn’t read the instructions well enough and committed an error at some point in the pregnancy test. 


Home pregnancy tests come with their share of trial and error, resulting in confusion and stress for you. In addition, faint lines can have multiple possibilities, and as such, it is in your best interest to consult with your GP to ensure a healthy and stress-free pregnancy.