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.
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.