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Pregnancy Test Line Very Light and Not Getting Darker: What's Happening?

Updated on May 3, 2016
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Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.

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It can be frustrating to wait for the results of a pregnancy test, only to have a faint line (or lines) appear. What does it mean when they're so faint and don't get darker? Are you, or are you not, pregnant?

Chances are, even if you have a faint positive result on your test, you're pregnant! It all depends on how early you took the test and how much HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is in your system at the time you took the test.

Read on to learn how pregnancy tests work, how to read the pregnancy test, and what the faint lines mean.

How Home Pregnancy Tests Work

Home pregnancy tests are usually fairly accurate when it comes to predicting pregnancy. It's important, though, to know how they work and how to interpret the results.

The first thing to know is that the first morning's urine works best. Home tests use your urine to determine how much of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is in your system. This hormone starts entering your system around 6-12 days after conception, when the ball of cells known as the blastocyst has implanted itself on your uterine wall. The hormone is most concentrated in the morning.

Does that mean that 6-12 days after conception (if you even know exactly when that occurred), you should take a home pregnancy test (HPT)? Well, not exactly. At that point in your cycle, assuming you have a regular 28 day menstrual cycle, you'd still be about a week away from your next expected period, and there probably isn't enough hCG in your system yet to be read on a home pregnancy test.

Not all pregnancy tests react the same way to the amount of HCG in your urine, of course. It all depends on how many milli-international units per liter (mIU/L) of hCG the test can read. Some tests claim to be able to detect pregnancy really early (but only about 60% of the time) while others are best to take after you have missed your period. A test that can pick up only 15-20 mIU/L of hCG would be more sensitive and perhaps able to determine pregnancy sooner than a test that is only sensitive to 30-50 mIU/L. That means that the early results tests (the more expensive ones) may be able to tell you if you're pregnant sooner than waiting for your next period to be missed, but there's no guarantee.

If you're willing to try one (or two), go ahead and buy more than one. However, you may be disappointed to see a negative result only to have to buy more pregnancy tests a week or so later after you've missed your period. As I said, those kinds of tests are usually only accurate 60% of the time.

My recommendation is to always wait until you have missed your period before going out and buying a home pregnancy test. You'll have greater chance (more like 80-90%) of seeing an accurate result after a missed period. For an even greater chance, wait about a week after your missed period, when the HCG is really in full effect in your system and you can get a really accurate result.

My Recommendation:

Wait until you have missed a period before using a home pregnancy test. You'll get a more accurate result.

Home Pregnancy Test

How many home pregnancy tests have you taken so far?

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Pregnancy Test Lines

Two clear lines: if only it were always this easy to read the test.
Two clear lines: if only it were always this easy to read the test. | Source

Faint Positive Pregnancy Test

Home pregnancy tests vary in design and can show faint positive results.
Home pregnancy tests vary in design and can show faint positive results. | Source

Faint Positive Line on Pregnancy Test

In this home pregnancy test, the test line is darker than the positive line, but it still means there's a pregnancy.
In this home pregnancy test, the test line is darker than the positive line, but it still means there's a pregnancy. | Source

Faint Line on Pregnancy Test

You might see a faint line (or lines) on the home pregnancy test after you have waited (and waited) for the results. Chances are, even with a faint positive line, you are pregnant. Those lines are designed to show HCG in your urine and if you have any, a line will appear indicating pregnancy.

Most tests will show two lines. The first is to indicate that the test is indeed working and the second is to indicate pregnancy. Normally, the first line will be dark and clear to read. It's the second line that could be a little faint. If you read the directions for the test, they will tell you that the second line may appear lighter than the first, but even so it still indicates a pregnancy.

Why is the second line faint? You may have just enough HCG in your urine to be detected, as it may be very, very early in your pregnancy, or you took it later in the day when the hCG isn't as concentrated in your urine. If you wait a few days or even a week, the line may appear darker (or it may even appear the same!).

If you're still not sure (or can't believe) if you are pregnant, you can contact your health care provider to have a blood test. A blood test works in the same way as the urine test except that it is able to detect smaller amounts of HCG.

Very, Very Faint Line

If this is the case, it may be way too early for the test to determine pregnancy. You just don't have enough hCG in your system to be detected. The result could also be negative. Wait until you have missed your period, or even a few days more, and take another test. If you cannot get a positive reading even though you have missed your period, contact your health care provider to ask about a blood test. Ask about possible reasons why your period hasn't arrived.

Faint Line on a Pregnancy Test


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A Positive Result

Bottom line, if there are two lines, no matter how faint the second one is, you're pregnant! If you still need to know for sure, contact your health care provider to ask for a blood test.

Usually, about a week or so after you see your positive pregnancy test result, you'll start experiencing some of the common pregnancy symptoms, and then, you'll know you are pregnant. Until you know for sure, act as if you are pregnant. Take prenatal vitamins, eat a healthy diet, exercise when you can, and avoid anything you shouldn't be exposed to during pregnancy.

Best of luck to you!

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      Marissa 5 days ago from United States

      Rini, I'm sorry but I'm not sure what you're referring to. Most pregnancy tests have two lines to indicate pregnancy. Are you seeing two lines?

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      Marissa 5 days ago from United States

      Sarah, if you are seeing two lines within the 10-minute testing window, chances are pretty good that you may be pregnant.

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      Rini 5 days ago

      I done ivf I took urine after my blood test in 17 day urine line was dark and on 18 day my urine line was light do I have chemical pregnancy

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      Sarah 10 days ago

      Thanks this has been from sep if i use the 2 line test the line to show if preg is pencil thin if i use the cross test the line to go down would just have 2pencil thin outter lines going down with only a bit of colour between.just worried i am an not going to know as i didnt with my last child till few weeks before giving birth i feel as though i am an having all signs just not clear with test told dr an he gave me a test to take home an do but same thing happened to that.

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      Marissa 11 days ago from United States

      Sarah, tests from different brands show the results in various ways. Most of them will show two lines if pregnant. Even if one line is faint, it could still mean pregnant.

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      Marissa 11 days ago from United States

      Maryam, faint lines can mean pregnant.

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      Sarah 12 days ago

      All the test ive taken are only pencil thin pink or blue line taken all tyes of test an all the same what does it mean

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      Maryam 2 weeks ago

      Hi mari,my period since 63days

      I took a pregnancy test and it shows me faint positive lines.it happens 4 times..suggest me

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      Marissa 2 weeks ago from United States

      Sum, if you are looking at a test that is 3 days old, it is now invalid. You should take a new test.

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      Sum 2 weeks ago

      Three days later my hpt showing faint positive line what does it indicates

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      Marissa 3 weeks ago from United States

      Shellyann, if you waited more than 10 minutes to look at it, it was most likely an evaporation line.

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      Marissa 3 weeks ago from United States

      Jessy, it's possible that you are. I suggest seeing your doctor.

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      Marissa 3 weeks ago from United States

      Sierra, did you take the tests on the same day? I suggest waiting a few more days and retesting.

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      Marissa 3 weeks ago from United States

      Mommy_1, it's hard to say. I suggest seeing your doctor.

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      Sierra simmons 3 weeks ago

      Hi Melissa I took a pregnancy test earlier and it shows a faint pregnancy test basically saying I'm pregnant then I went and bought another one to make sure it said I wasn't my fiance thinks I am but I don't think so

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      Mommy_1 4 weeks ago

      I took my first pregnancy test on the 17th 2 days before my period I got a really really faint line i retested on the 20 and got another really really faint line , yesterday on the 21st I started bleeding really light and I had no cramps or backaches so I assumed it’s implantation bleeding, today the 22nd I took another test and I can barely see the 2nd line am I pregnant or not ?

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      Marissa 4 weeks ago from United States

      Sam, if the test you have says that two lines means pregnant, then yes you may be pregnant, even if the second line is faint.

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      Sam 5 weeks ago

      I took a pregnancy test and the second line is very faint. Am I pregnant?

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      Marissa 5 weeks ago from United States

      Sara, have you started your cycle? If not, give it a few more days and try testing again.

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      Marissa 5 weeks ago from United States

      Savannah, if you took a test where two lines means pregnant, then yes, even if the second line is faint. I suggest waiting a few more days and taking another just to be sure.

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      Savannah 5 weeks ago

      I took a pregnancy test and the second line is very faint. Am I pregnant?

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      Marissa 5 weeks ago from United States

      Michael, it depends on the test, but if there are two lines, no matter how faint, it usually indicates pregnancy.

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      michael 6 weeks ago

      I took the test the first line is faint and the second line is dark

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      Marissa 7 weeks ago from United States

      Gugu, she should see her doctor about her symptoms.

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      Marissa 7 weeks ago from United States

      Sonia, are you reading the test within the 10 minute time limit? If you are reading them after that time has passed and you are seeing a faint line, the test is invalid. If the blood test came back negative, then it usually just means you are not pregnant. If you are concerned please speak with your doctor.

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      Marissa 7 weeks ago from United States

      Parveen, it could mean pregnant, but the hormone just isn't strong enough yet to show a stronger line on the test. If you wait a few more days it may get darker. If you have concerns please speak with your doctor.

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      Marissa 7 weeks ago from United States

      Jev, I'm sorry, but I have never gone through the implant process before. Please speak with your doctor about your concerns.

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      Marissa 7 weeks ago from United States

      Precious, I'm very sorry, but it seems that you may have had a miscarriage. I would think they would have told you that. For a few days, your body may still have the pregnancy hormone in it and you will still get positive tests. I know this for a fact because I went through it myself. I highly suggest going back to your doctor to see what's going on.

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      Marissa 7 weeks ago from United States

      Kchox, it depends on the type of test you used.

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      Marissa 7 weeks ago from United States

      Paola90, it's very possible that you are pregnant. Speak with your doctor if you are unsure about the test.

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      Kchox 2 months ago

      My pregnancy test on T line is divided into two. One is dark pink and one is light. Wat does it mean? Pregnant or not.

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      April 2 months ago

      Okay so what about if it looks like the begginning of a line .

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      Carmela 2 months ago

      2 days after i missed my period, i take a test , the result is very very faint,

      then on the 4th day, i do it again and the result is same.

      i have cramps and backpain from the first day i missed my period up to 4th day.

      am i pregnant?

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      Monica 2 months ago

      So I took a pregnancy test. Faint positive line. I took one later that day it was negative. I took one two days later it was in the morning and it was a dark line right away. I'm recently on medication that makes me gain weight.. So I don't know how pregnant I could be. (Irregular periods) if I was farther along it would have been positive with a darker line no matter what time of day right? I can't get into the doc until next week and I'm going crazy trying to figure out how far along I am!! Thanks for any feedback!

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      tsholo 2 months ago

      Please help me I bought pregnancy test and use it they give me two line dark as and light one ... and decided to go to the clinic and give me one dark line I may pregnant or not but am going every month to my period pains

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      Larissa 2 months ago

      I have a light test line too .one is dark and the other is light .does it mean am expecting

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      Charlotte 2 months ago

      I am over a week late for my cycle. I took a test yesterday and the line was vvery faint. Almsot not visible. I had to hold the test further away to see the line. I thought I was making myself crazy but my husband stated that he saw the line too. It was just very light. Some sites are saying "Positive is a positive" but Im having a hard time with it. Can a real person tell me of their experience? I also have sore breasts and nipples and a few times I've had abdominal pain that almst felt like menstrual cramps but nothing happened. Anyone?

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      paola90 2 months ago

      So I took a test a couple of weeks ago at that time it had been 3 weeks since my missed period, the line was extremely faint like you could barely see it, since then I've had additional symptoms like sore breasts and morning sickness, what do you think am I or am I not?

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      Johnquiia 2 months ago

      My cycle is 2 weeks late, I have taken multiple test and they all have a very faint positive sign. Could I be pregnant or is my mind playing tricks on me?

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      Marissa 3 months ago from United States

      Karla, sometimes your hormones can change and mimic the symptoms of pregnancy. If you were pregnant, the blood work would have indicated so. I suggest listening to your doctor.

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      Karla 3 months ago

      So im officially 1 month late on my menses. I went to the Dr and was Negative on urine and blood work. I asked the Dr for an Ultrasound but was told I didnt need one. He gave me 2 options, wait for my Menses or he could prescribe me medicine to start my menses. He prescribed me meds. I am scared to take it because what if I am pregnant, I have pregnancy symptoms, my nipples are turning darker and growing. What else could I do? What would you recommend?

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      Marissa 3 months ago from United States

      Razana, most tests have a limit of 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, they're considered invalid. I suggest testing again to check and to follow the directions for time limit.

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      Marissa 3 months ago from United States

      Ramya, did you take a test?

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      Marissa 3 months ago from United States

      Karla, it's possible that your hormones are out of whack for some reason. This could be due to stress, change in eating habits, change in sleep habits, and a number of other factors. I suggest speaking with your doctor.

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      Karla 3 months ago

      HELP! I am now 18 days late, I took a HPT (ept brand) 6 days ago and the + sign was very very very faint like you can barely see it, you have to hold it at an angle to see it. I took another one and it came out (-), I took blood work and also came out (-). I have a few symptoms like dizzy, constipation and nausea. Has this happened to anyone? Could I still be pregnant and be getting false Negatives? I have never skipped a period.

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      Marissa 3 months ago from United States

      Karla, I suggest waiting another week.

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      Karla 3 months ago

      Hello, I am always get my period on the 15th of every month. Last month I was 2 days late, this month I am currently 10-12 days late. I took a HPT (ept brand) yesterday and the + sign was very very very faint like you can barely see it, you have to hold it at an angle to see it, could it be a positive? or should i wait another week to test again? TIA

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      Marissa 3 months ago from United States

      Destiny, if there were two lines, even if one was faint, it usually means pregnant.

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      Marissa 4 months ago from United States

      Roshni, there's nothing you can do to help the baby grow. Of course, it helps to stay healthy and take your prenatal vitamin.

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      Roshni 4 months ago

      Hi Marissa. Thank you. Your words give me great strength. I had my first foetal scan yesterday. I'm 8 weeks pregnant but as per scan the size is corresponding to 4 weeks only. Also heartbeat and foetal movement were nOt seen which should be viSible by now. I'm advised another scan after twenty days. Could you please tell me what can i do to instil growth in my baby?

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      Marissa 4 months ago from United States

      Roshni, not all women get pregnancy symptoms right away. Sometimes it can take a few weeks.

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      Marissa 4 months ago from United States

      Prasanna, two lines means pregnant, no matter how dark they are. Speak with your doctor about an appointment.

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      Marissa 4 months ago from United States

      Roshni, a positive is a positive. It'd be best to call your doctor for an appointment.

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      Roshni 4 months ago

      Hi. I got a faint positive on Friday eveNing. And four days later on Tuesday i again got a faint positive. The Line doesnt seem to Get darker. Could i be pregnant?

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      Prasanna 4 months ago

      I got one dark line and one light pink.am I pregnant or not?pls give me suggestions

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      Marissa 4 months ago from United States

      Sweeti, on most tests, two lines (faint or dark) means pregnant. Check the insert for the brand you used.

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      Sweeti 4 months ago

      I bought a pregnancy kit.I am getting the two pink lines 'c' gets thick line and 't' gets light line i am getting pregnant or not

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      Marissa 4 months ago from United States

      Zia, if there are two lines on a single test, it means you may be pregnant. I suggest a visit with your doctor.

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      Zia 4 months ago

      It's been 3 weeks since I had make love with my boyfriend. For 2 years were having unprotected sex and I have an irregular period, last time its been 8 months since I got my period and now I haven't got my period for 6 months, lastweek, I bought a pregnancy test and try for curiousity reasons for I feel not at ease. I tried two test and both of them have faint lines. Is this mean its positive? Thanks to those who'll response.

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      Marissa 5 months ago from United States

      Sahithi, if there were two lines, then yes, that usually means pregnant.

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      Sahithi 5 months ago

      Hi, I had an HPT test today morning..got a light pink line and dark line.Then Am I Pregnant??

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      Marissa 5 months ago from United States

      Mamata, if you couldn't see a second line clearly, you might not be pregnant. You can take another test now to see.

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      Marissa 5 months ago from United States

      Athandile, even faint lines can mean pregnant. Doesn't matter if one or both are faint.

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      Athandile 5 months ago

      I took a pregnancy test I got two lines but one was light,pls help what does that mean?

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      Mamata 5 months ago

      hi

      I took HPT , but i did't see 02nd line cleared

      am I pregnant or not

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      Vicki 5 months ago

      I had unprotected sex on the 21st of May

      I did 2 PT one one the 29, 30 th both test came back with faint positive lines. Could I be expecting???

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      Marissa 6 months ago from United States

      Gabriella, it's possible that the blood was either implantation bleeding, or it could have been your period. Taking another test can give you the answer.

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      Gabriella 6 months ago

      I took a pregnancy test may 11 and it came back positive, the first line was faint though, but then the next day's i had spotting and like blood like if it was a period all though not as heavy took another test a week later what are the possibility im pregnant?

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      Marissa 6 months ago from United States

      Sarita, I'm not sure. Since you're on medication, it could be affecting the test. Only your doctor will be able to tell you what is going on.

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      sarita daga 6 months ago

      helo... i have pcod problem and taking medicines given by dr for folic acid and i concieved last month and now its 17 day late i m not having my periods i did pregnancy test its possitive but blood test shows negative wat should i do now... i should medicibe for periods or not now

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      Marissa 7 months ago from United States

      Hi Ashley, if the test was negative in the morning, chances are that there isn't a pregnancy at this time. I suggest taking another test on a different morning to see what the result is.

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      Marissa 8 months ago from United States

      Hi Lisa, unfortunately, after an hour, the test is no longer valid. If you saw two faint lines within the first 10 minutes, it could mean pregnancy. Wait a day or so and retest. Best wishes

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      Marissa 8 months ago from United States

      Hi, most tests are only valid within the first 10 minutes. After that, results are invalid.

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      say 8 months ago

      Im expecting my period to come Feb 24 but it hvnt come yet, till March 1 so I took home pregnancy test and at first five minutes Only 1 line is clear so I assumed its n3gative, but an hour later I took alook again the PT and there's a shadow appear, at March 2 I had a heavy bleeding, and I presumed Its my period but my curiosity strikes so I took another PT at March 3 while having bleeding, and the same result happened at first 1 line appears after an hour theres a shadow comes up, what d0es it mean?

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      Marissa 9 months ago from United States

      Hi Maru, I suggest speaking with your doctor. It is possible that those symptoms could be from a miscarriage, but it could be other things as well. Only your doctor will be able to tell you for sure. I'm sorry if it turns out to be the case!

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      Maru 9 months ago

      Hi Marisa,

      I'm supposedly 5 weeks pregnant today, I've got a faint line in my first test 2 days ago, in the afternoon, already about 5 days late. Then the next morning (yesterday) I did another test and it was a little lighter. Today I'm spotting and have some cramping. Are all those signs I'm having a miscarriage? Thank you.

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      Marissa 9 months ago from United States

      Have you seen a doctor yet? If you haven't, I highly suggest giving your doctor a call. Bleeding can happen for a variety of reasons.

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      Marissa 10 months ago from United States

      Brittany, it might be a week or so before the tests get darker. I suggest speaking with your doctor to see if you can get a blood test.

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      Marissa 13 months ago from United States

      Hi Asha,

      If you still have not had a period since August, you should speak with your doctor.

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      Asha J 13 months ago

      My lmp date Is 18082016. I checked my pregnancy on 24 (6 am) & 25 (6am) sep 2016. Both time faint line comes in kit. Similarly 25th urine sample I given in lab at around 930am and they give result negative.

      Pls help me what it means and now what to do.

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      Mali Carro 16 months ago

      Hi! It's an awesome article and I think now I understand better how a pregnancy test works. Thank you!

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      Marissa 16 months ago from United States

      Hi Shabi, if there are two lines, it's positive. Best wishes

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      Shabi 16 months ago

      Madam, my periods date 7/7/2016 But still. No yet periods 9/7/216. I checked home pregnant test. I saw. One line. Dark. Ban other ones very light. Line. Wat u mean me pregnant??

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      sindhu 18 months ago

      Hi...now iam 35 days passed still I didnt get period but I take test today but the result is negative y madam .....before I never crossed 30 days......

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Sue, have you taken another test since then? It could be either a chemical pregnancy or the bleeding was implantation bleeding. I suggest testing again, and if it's positive, call your doctor. Best wishes!

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      Sue 2 years ago

      I took a test and the 1st line was light and the 2nd one dark, but after 2 days i got my periods. Does that mean i might be pregnant or what because i've been nausea & a bit dizzy for the past 2 days

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      pooja jain, If you read the test within the time limits and saw two lines, chances are you're pregnant no matter how light the lines were. I'm not sure what would have happened when you shook the test. If you need to, take a second test first thing in the morning tomorrow. Best wishes!

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      pooja jain 2 years ago

      I tooked test in today morning but 1 line dark &1 line light

      But when i shaked this card the light line was disappeard . So what will be happend it means.. m i pregnent or not

      Pls reply

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Sadaf Khan, two lines is still two lines. If you want consistency, you should take the same kind of test at the same time of day. Different tests measure different levels of hCG and work differently, hence the different results. Best wishes!

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      Sadaf Khan 2 years ago

      my yesterday pregnancy test was positive with very dark line today when i check with different test also the result is positive but result line is very light

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      Madhurima 2 years ago

      I took test today but result is one thin line and one dark line so is it negetive or positiv???????

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Lou, my sincere apologies. My heart breaks for you! I too have suffered a miscarriage in the past few months, and I understand your grief. Best wishes to you. I hope everything works out okay!

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      lou 2 years ago

      Hi again hun. Unfortunately since I sent my message to u I've had what I believe to be a miscarriage. Started off painless and just a small amount of brown spotting and then stopped for 8 hours, then I had a bad sharp pain in my "bits" and when I went to the toilet I managed to fill it with fresh blood and it's not stopped since. I retested within an hour of the blood and it came back my first negative. The same happened last month. Guess it's just not my time or I'm unable to have anymore children as they don't seem to "stick" . As far as insurance goes, I'm from the uk so we do t need insurance as we have the nhs. I've put all that down to the cut backs the nhs have made where they pretty much leave everything up to the patient to self diagnose. To end this heavy hearted message I'd just like to say ty for writing back to me xxx and as far as any other ladies who happen to come across this link, I wish you all the best of luck. Xxx

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Hi lou, it's still possible that you don't have enough HCG in your system for the test to get any darker. I would wait a few more days or even a week before testing again. As for why your doctor won't confirm? That seems weird to me, unless it has something to do with insurance. I would wait until you test again to call back for your first appointment. Best wishes!!

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      lou 2 years ago

      Hi. I'm glad I read this article and ty because I'm now 3 days late and have had 4 very faint possitive first response early detection tests but are not getting any darker. I also did a clear blue digital which said no pregnant. FR tests seem to be the only ones picking something up. I rang my doctors to ask for a blood or urine test from them to confirm but they said they no longer confirm and only go off home pregnancy tests. I'm not sure what to do.

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      mazandy, if you can see the second line, chances are you are pregnant. Wait a few more days to retest. Best wishes!

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      mazandy 2 years ago

      i dd test my self but the other lie is not clear

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      Christina 2 years ago

      I took my first test 12/19 on an early response test and got a faint positive pretty much right away just to make sure it wasn't wrong i took another and it came by the same way knowing me and being a person who worries i took a dollar store test a day or two later (dollar store tests) it did take over 20 minutes to see a faint positive couple days later i tested again on another dollar store test and results was still faint but showed almost right away as of christmas 2014 i finally got the bold line i wanted and fast home my information helped anyone.

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Hannah, most if not all pregnancy tests should only be read within 10-15 minutes. After that, especially a week after that, the results should not be read. The directions in the tests should tell you that. If you think you may be pregnant, I highly suggest taking another test. Best wishes!

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      Hannah 2 years ago

      I took a test about a week and a half ago and it had no 2nd line i kept looking for over an hour just incase.. i jus seen it in my bathroom bin an theres now a 2nd line.. Does this mean what i think it means?!