Common Questions and Concerns After Getting a Positive Pregnancy Test

False Positive Results, Faint Lines, Cramps, and Pregnancy Signs

Couple excited about a positive pregnancy test result
Getting a positive pregnancy test result is an exciting time! But it can also be an anxious time, with lots of questions. Radius Images / Getty Images

Finally, you’ve got a positive pregnancy test result, and you’re thrilled! And then, suddenly, not so thrilled. You’re anxious. Maybe even scared. Is this result for real? What if it’s a false positive? Is this line lighter than it should be?

Or maybe your beta hCG results (blood test pregnancy test) came in positive, but your at-home pregnancy test is negative...  or the other way around, your blood test is negative but your at-home pregnancy test is positive.

What does all this mean?

First, try to take a few deep breaths. Know that feeling more worried than happy about a positive pregnancy test results is normal when you’ve struggled to get pregnant. You’re not the first to wonder if the result is real or not, and to have dozens of doubts.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions after getting a positive pregnancy test result. As always, talk to your doctor about your concerns, especially those relating to your personal care.

Could This Pregnancy Test Be a False Positive?

Usually, when people wonder about false positives, they are concerned they are seeing an “evaporation line.” This is when a pregnancy test appears to be positive – there is a faint line of some sort – but it’s actually not a positive result.

Evap lines are more common with certain brands of pregnancy tests. An evap line rarely has any color to it. It’s more like a faint line where you expect to see a pink line.

But it’s not pink (or not blue, depending on the test colors).

Evap lines usually don’t appear on a test if you look at the recommended time. Most tests will tell you to look after a certain number of minutes, but before another certain number of minutes.

For example, the pregnancy test may instruct you to look at the test 3 minutes after taking it, but not after 10 minutes have passed.

It’s important to follow these directions.

This problem is not an issue with digital pregnancy tests. Digital tests say in words Pregnant or Not Pregnant. No lines to decode or overthink.

This is one of the advantages of digital tests, though they are usually more expensive.

Am I Imagining This Line?

Worried you’re seeing pink lines that aren’t there? Trust me, you are not the first to wonder this!

I will never forget seeing the pink line on the pregnancy test with my twins. I pushed the test in front of my husband’s face, demanding to ask what he saw. (To which he said, “Is that a second line?”)

I also remember the months I thought there was maybe a very light pink line but I actually was just imagining it. Wishing it into existence. (No one else saw those lines but me.)

Don’t be embarrassed to ask your partner or a friend if that second line looks like a second line to them.

You can also snap a picture and share it online. Whether in a fertility forum or on Facebook, your buddies will be happy to help you decode the test!

Could I Get a Positive Pregnancy Test Result and Not Be Pregnant?

Even if your test is clearly positive, you may still be in denial – yes, the test says positive, but does this really mean I’m pregnant?

If your test is clearly positive, you’re very, very, very likely pregnant.

While there is a possibility to get a positive pregnancy test and you not be pregnant, this happens rarely. There are some medications and medical conditions that can give you a positive pregnancy test result.

Odds are, if you’ve been trying for a while, and haven’t had a false positive test before, the one you’re looking at is the real deal.

Could the Fertility Drugs I Took Cause a False Positive Pregnancy Test?

If your fertility treatment included a “trigger shot,” you could get a positive pregnancy test result that doesn’t actually indicate pregnancy...

if you took the pregnancy test too early.

A “trigger shot” is meant to trigger ovulation in the same way your body does with the hormone LH. Instead of LH, however, the trigger shot usually contains hCG. hCG acts similarly in the body as LH.

As you may already now, hCG is the pregnancy hormone, the same one your pregnancy test is trying to detect.

Avoid this problem by waiting at least 10 days after your trigger shot before taking a pregnancy test.

My Blood Work (Beta hCG) Said I’m Pregnant But My At-Home Test Is Negative. Why?


My Pregnancy Blood Test Test Came Back Negative But My At-Home Test is Positive Today. Why?

Your doctor may schedule an early pregnancy test – one that is slightly earlier than you would typically take an at-home pregnancy test – and then a second test a few days later.

If you had a blood test that came out negative, and then an at-home pregnancy test came out positive, it could be that there wasn’t enough pregnancy hormone circulating in your blood when you had the blood test.

If your doctor ordered a qualitative pregnancy test – as opposed to a quantitative pregnancy test – your blood test may come out negative while your at-home test can be positive.  A qualitative pregnancy test only gives a positive or negative result, and often requires a higher level of pregnancy hormone than many at-home early pregnancy tests.

Most fertility doctors will order a quantitative pregnancy test, which gives a measure of how much hCG is circulating. This is usually followed by another test a few days later to see how quickly the hCG levels are increasing. (A sign of a healthy pregnancy.)

Quantitative pregnancy tests can sometime detect pregnancy hormone before an at-home test can. If this happens to you, you may get a positive blood test but a negative result at home.

It is also possible, if your blood test came back with a very early positive, that you can get a negative test at home a few days later because of an early miscarriage. In this case, your period will probably start soon.

In either case, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about why the results may be different.

In rare cases, false positive pregnancy test results can lead to a urine test coming out one way, while a blood test comes out another way. So be sure to tell your doctor if you’re getting different results at home, especially if there are concerns about the pregnancy.

I Got a Positive Pregnancy Test at Three Weeks. Does This Mean I’m Having Twins?

It’s true that twin pregnancies result in higher levels of hCG. So you might assume that an early positive pregnancy test result means you’re going to have twins.

However, this isn’t necessarily true.

How much pregnancy hormone you have circulating is partially dependent on when the embryo implants itself into the uterine wall, partially on how many embryos you’ve got in there, and partially on mysterious reasons no one quite understands yet.

An early pregnancy test result may just mean that the embryo implanted earlier than expected.

Also, the normal range for hCG values is pretty wide. It’s possible for a healthy single embryo to create more pregnancy hormone than healthy twin embryos together.

The only way to know if you’re pregnant with multiples is with an ultrasound.

The Second Line on My Pregnancy Test Is Really Light. Is That a Bad Sign?


I Took a Pregnancy Test Today and Yesterday, and the Line Got Lighter/Darker. What Could That Mean?

At-home pregnancy tests aren’t really designed to measure how much hCG is in your urine. They are just meant to say if there is some minimum amount.

While a pregnancy test will typically show up with a darker positive line the further along you are, you can’t use the faintness or darkness of a line to figure out how healthy the pregnancy is.

Your doctor can schedule successive pregnancy blood tests, to make sure the hormone levels are increasing as they should.

If you want this, but your doctor hasn’t mentioned it, you can ask.

Especially if you’ve experienced miscarriage in the past, or have been struggling to get pregnant, your doctor will probably understand your need for reassurance.

I Got a Positive Pregnancy Test But Have No Pregnancy Signs or Symptoms. Is This a Bad Sign?

Pregnancy symptoms and signs are not accurate indicators of pregnancy. Some women never experience morning sickness, but they are just as pregnant as those who do!

Think back to all those cycles when you “felt pregnant” but weren’t.

Just like feeling pregnant doesn’t mean you are pregnant, not feeling pregnant doesn’t mean you aren’t.

I Got a Positive Pregnancy Test Today But I Have Cramps. Is This a Bad Sign?

Usually, cramps are associated with getting your period. So if you get positive pregnancy test, but are having cramps, it’s natural to worry.

Slight pelvic discomfort during pregnancy is normal. There’s a lot going on down there, to get the uterus ready to host a baby.

Also, if you’ve taken fertility drugs, your ovaries may still be swollen from the stimulation. Mild ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS) can cause pelvic discomfort and bloating.

Another possibility: if you’re anxious, you may be unconsciously tensing your abdominal muscles. This can cause mild cramping.

If your cramps are intense or severe, or accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, contact your doctor.

Severe pelvic discomfort after fertility treatment can also be a sign of moderate to severe OHSS, which must be monitored and possibly treated by your doctor. Severe cramps during early pregnancy can also be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy.

More on pregnancy after infertility:


Avoiding Inappropriate Clinical Decisions Based on False-Positive Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Test Results. Number 278, November 2002(Reaffirmed 2013). Committee on Gynecologic Practice.

Er TK1, Chiang CH, Cheng BH, Hong FJ, Lee CP, Ginés MA. “False-positive urine pregnancy test in a woman with adenomysosis.” Am J Emerg Med. 2009 Oct;27(8):1019.e5-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2008.12.023. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

Levsky ME1, Handler JA, Suarez RD, Esrig ET. “False-positive urine beta-HCG in a woman with a tubo-ovarian abscess.” J Emerg Med. 2001 Nov;21(4):407-9.

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