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What Can Cause a Faint Positive on a Pregnancy Test?

Home pregnancy test showing positive and negative results.
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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2014
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Although modern home pregnancy tests seem to be fairly easy to read, confusion can occur if a faint or slight positive result appears. A faint positive on a pregnancy tests is most likely to occur on tests that present a read-out using color change or the appearance of lines to indicate pregnancy. There are a variety of reasons why a faint positive can happen. In most cases, a second test or a visit to a medical professional will confirm real results.

Pregnancy tests measure a hormone in the urine that appears when women become pregnant. The sensitivity of the test and how far along the pregnancy is can both affect the outcome. If a test is taken earlier than recommended, the test may not be able to detect the small amounts of hormones present. It may also be easier to get a faint positive if the test is not a very sensitive version and only measures high volumes of the pregnancy hormone.

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User error is a common cause of a faint positive on a pregnancy test. Performing the test too early, not following instructions exactly, using an expired or damaged test, or reading the results after a longer period of time than instructed can all cause the appearance of a faint line or color change. Be sure to read all instructions exactly before using the test, and check the expiration date on it. If necessary, set a timer to ensure the results are read at the right time. Keep pregnancy tests stored in a cool, dry area as excessive heat or moisture may cause the test to malfunction.

Certain hormonal imbalances may cause a faint positive on a pregnancy test. Women who are on certain medications or are taking fertility-enhancing drugs can easily end up with a false result. Occasionally, women undergo what is known as a chemical or hysterical pregnancy, where the body produces pregnancy signs and hormones even without a pregnancy being present. In these cases, it is best to visit a medical professional for additional testing that can confirm or refute a pregnancy.

If a faint positive occurs, some experts recommend waiting a few days and retesting. Since first morning urine is the most concentrated, it may be easier to get a clear result at that time. Additionally, the amount of pregnancy hormones doubles every few days in a pregnant woman, so a faint positive can quickly turn into a clear positive after a short wait.

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Discuss this Article

dfoster85
Post 2

@ElizaBennett - The situation you describe is called a chemical pregnancy. I went through one, and it wasn't pretty! I got positive early pregnancy test results, and then a few days later I got my period.

My doctor said it was a chemical pregnancy. Basically, that's a really early miscarriage when the positive pregnancy test (elevated HCG levels in your urine or blood) was the only evidence that you were pregnant. He said if they had done an ultrasound, they would not have seen anything, because it was so early on that a gestational sac would not yet have developed.

Once there's something they can see on the ultrasound, it's considered a clinical pregnancy, and he said that happens about a week after your missed period or when you are about five weeks pregnant.

ElizaBennett
Post 1

If you see even a very faint line on a pregnancy test, unless you do have one of those conditions or situations that the article mentions, you are probably pregnant. (Another cause of a faint positive could be if you have recently been pregnant; your body might retain enough pregnancy hormones to cause a positive reading.)

Basically, a faint positive is just that. You're almost certainly pregnant, but only "a little bit pregnant." Especially if your period wasn't even due yet, it's important to remember that very, very many early pregnancies don't work out. A faint positive sometimes turns into a negative a few days later, followed by your period. The article's advice to test again a few days later is sensible. (If you had a positive followed by a negative and you *don't* get your period, definitely call your doctor.)

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