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

Updated on May 03, 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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    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 days 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 4 days 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.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 2 weeks 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.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 weeks 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.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 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 4 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 6 months ago

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

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 7 months ago from United States

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

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      Shabi 7 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??

    • profile image

      sindhu 9 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......

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 16 months 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 16 months 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

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 19 months 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 19 months 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

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 20 months 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 20 months 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 22 months ago

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

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 23 months 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 23 months 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

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 23 months 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 23 months 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.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 23 months 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 23 months ago

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

    • profile image

      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.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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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?!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Cclz, it seems like you may have had a chemical pregnancy, which very basically means that your body made the pregnancy hormones, but there's nothing there. Being that you'd only be 6 weeks, it may have been too early to see anything on an ultrasound. It's possible you ovulated late and you're earlier in a pregnancy than you thought. I suggest going back to your doctor if your period still doesn't start in a week. I'm sorry I can't tell you more than that, as I am not a medical professional. Best wishes!

    • profile image

      cclz 2 years ago

      Hey y'all, I'm new at this so please bear with me...

      I'm 13 days late, I had my 1st VERY hold under the light hpt a week ago. I received a blood test and an ultrasound both came back negative. My uterus lining is 7.8 Idk really what it's supposed to be. But since then I've had 3 more VERY faint hpt the same thing as before. Idk if im pregnant or not. I'm so confused. I'll be 6 weeks on Sunday if im pregnant... please help?

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Shabana, it depends on what test you took. Really though, if you have the two lines as indicated on the instructions of the test, it can mean pregnancy. Even if one of the lines is faint, you still have two lines, and on most tests that means pregnancy.I highly suggest contacting your doctor and make an appointment. Best wishes!

    • profile image

      shabana 2 years ago

      While testing pregnancy I got one side line and other only pink in colour. Its not clear. Does it mean im pregnant? Plz give me suggestions. Im confused.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      pooja, I would have to agree with your doctor. If he or she did an ultrasound and there was no pregnancy, then the HPT results could be from the cysts. If anything, it could be from a chemical pregnancy, in which the hormones recognized by the HPT would be released but there is no fertilized egg to implant.

      If you are still very concerned, I would seek a second opinion from another doctor. Best wishes!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Jan, it still could be a little early for the lines to be getting darker, or something else could be going on. I suggest waiting a few more days before testing again. If it comes back negative but you still have symptoms, I suggest speaking with your doctor. Best wishes!

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      jan 2 years ago

      I am 3 days late and have taken several tests. Honestly to many, I can't remember how many, I have gotten faint lines and have symptoms, but why is the line not getting darker?? Its so frustrating?

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Princess10O, if your last period was March 7th, you would be around 10 weeks pregnant if you were indeed pregnant, which means you should be able to get an accurate pregnancy test result. Have you taken a test recently? If you have and it's still negative, it's possible that the stress of moving could have delayed your period, or the back pains are the result of an infection or illness. It's time to find a doctor or a clinic in your new area to find out what could be going on. I can't say otherwise what could be the issue, but a doctor will be able to run some tests to see what's going on. Best wishes!

    • profile image

      princess10O 2 years ago

      hello, I'm now going 74 days without my period.. my last period was march7th it started, probably ended a week later it was just a normal regular period. I do and did have unprotected sex. I took a home test cpl weeks later it was negative, and i also went to the doctors for really bad back pains and got them to do a blood test just incase cause they were taking an xray. they said it was negative, it's is now 74 days since my first day of my last period. I don't know if I'm pregnant or there's just something that could be wrong. I. just moved so I do not have a family doctor to just get up and go to, I would just love an answer why it's been so long since my last period. ;(

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      Rose4rmtx, have you tested since the last time? I believe the second test you took was still too soon. Take another test or visit your doctor to see what's going on. Best wishes!

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      Rose4rmtx 3 years ago

      I tested 9 days before missed period n it was just out of curiosity and got a faint positive and i tested a few days after and no line now its been 3 weeks no period and still negative what should i do now ?

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      Elizabeth Hanks 3 years ago from Queen Creek

      Thank you so much! Your articles are truly inspiring and I can already tell they're going to go a long way with my questions and concerns in the next few months, haha!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      ellesvoice, congratulations! I love your enthusiasm! I was the same way when I found out about my three pregnancies. Can't help but be excited! Congrats again, and I hope you have a happy and healthy pregnancy. :)

    • ellesvoice profile image

      Elizabeth Hanks 3 years ago from Queen Creek

      Two tests with faint second lines would suggest yes! Thank you! Prospective daddy and I are incredibly excited, we already have names picked out and everything, haha!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      ellesvoice, are congratulations in order then? :D I'm glad this was able to help you decipher the faint lines. Thanks for reading!

    • ellesvoice profile image

      Elizabeth Hanks 3 years ago from Queen Creek

      This article was very helpful! I took two pregnancy tests this week and both had very faint second lines, which was kind of confusing for me! Thank you for posting this and making it easier for me to decipher!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      Anna Evanswood, we can get so impatient when waiting for that positive, and when it's faint, we go crazy! It is best to wait those extra days or even a week, even if the suspense is killing you. :) Thanks for reading!

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      Anna Evanswood 4 years ago from Malaysia

      I have also been there with "faint lines" and " that really an evaporation line".... I agree the best advice is to WAIT until your period is at least a week late... too bad that pregnancy tests are sooo cheap and we are sooo impatient! Thank you!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      cgreenwood, do you think there was a faint line? It could be that you took the test a little early. Hope the blood test gives you the answer! Best wishes!

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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      Cristina, it all depends on the type of test and which way you're holding it. Take a look at the directions to see which one is the control line, which is usually the darker of the two. Best wishes!

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      Cristina 4 years ago

      I have a question... What if the bold lines were backwards. Meaning the line on the left is bold and the line on the right is faint?

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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      Trissy, it could either be pregnancy or your cycle is off due to illness, stress, weight change, change of activity or a fluctuation in hormones. Wait a few more days, and take another test. Sometimes it takes a few extra days for the hCG in your system to build up.

      Best wishes!

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      Trissy 4 years ago

      Hi, Ive missed my period for a week now. just had a nausea yesterday and salivated as well.i took a home test and it was negative.can i still be pregnant?cos there is no sign of my period yet.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      Trish, you're welcome! Thanks for reading and commenting! Good luck to you. :)

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      Brenda 4 years ago from Springfield, MO

      Thanks for this hub. This happen to me a few days ago I'm going to take another test in 2 weeks.

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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      kittyjj, thanks for the feedback! It does help to wait until after your period to test with a pregnancy test. It saves you a ton of aggravation and money! :)

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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      teaches12345, now I'll have to do some research...when did home pregnancy tests become popular? Hmm. Interesting thought! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      Julie, I too took at least two tests just to verify the lines. It's a good thing they sell them in packs of two! :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

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      Ann Leung 4 years ago from San Jose, California

      Good advice on "waiting after you have missed your period before going out and buying a home pregnancy test." That's what I didn't and I only used one pregnancy test. Great hub with a lot helpful tips! Voted up and useful!

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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      These came out way after my time, but I know that many women will seek this out for the great advice you posted. Good job.

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      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Great job on this article. Very helpful for those who are trying to get pregnant. I was known for taking tests apart to get a closer look! LOL

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