Pregnancy Test Still Positive If a Line Is Lighter?

Pregnancy Test Lines: Does it matter if one is darker?

Pregnancy test lines
Photo © Allan Kosmajac/Getty Images

Pregnancy tests have lines that indicate a couple of things. These lines are to help prevent you from misreading the test and to know if an error has occurred. The main window is the test indicator window. It will typically have two lines. One line indicates that the test is working properly, and the second line is considered the actual pregnancy test line. A second line is what indicates pregnancy.

A few tests have a separate window for the control panel. 

When taking a pregnancy test, any line is considered a positive pregnancy test, even if it is lighter than the control line. The darker line is usually the control line. This is not a sign of a problem with the pregnancy or the pregnancy test, assuming it came up during the time limits of the test. It does not mean your pregnancy is in danger. It does not mean that you need to do anything special. It could be because at the time you tested your hCG levels (pregnancy hormone measured by the test) is high enough to trigger the test but not as high as later in pregnancy.

Sometimes this second line is so faint, you can barely see it. If there is a line, not an evaporation line, but a true line, no matter how light, you read that as a positive pregnancy test. 

This is considered one of the more common pregnancy test questions. The examples given in pregnancy test instructions or on the box are merely examples.

Anything other than a blank is considered to be positive, even if it's a very faint line. Try holding your pregnancy test up to a white sheet of paper or the wall to get a better perspective.

"I felt a bit silly holding the pregnancy test up to the wall, but it was so hard to tell if there was a second line.

Was I just making it up because I wanted to be pregnant?" Robin remembers of her first pregnancy. "You don't want to mess it up and you don't want to be wrong. This is a big deal!"

You may also see online forums filled with photos of pregnancy tests asking for help from people to read them. Wanting to be pregnant can make you really doubt yourself when reading this simple test. If it makes you feel better and you don't mind posting potential news of your pregnancy on the internet - go for it. Just remember to consider anything that you post on the internet, even in a private space, to be public information.

This discrepancy in the coloring of the lines is one of the reasons that you should read your pregnancy test within the time frame outlined in the instructions. Waiting to read the pregnancy test until late can result in problems and misreading the test.

You have two options if you are still unsure of your pregnancy test results. You can wait and retest in a few days or you can go see your doctor or midwife for a test in their office.

More Pregnancy Test Questions


Montagnana M, Trenti T, Aloe R, Cervellin G, Lippi G. Clin Chim Acta. 2011 Aug 17;412(17-18):1515-20. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2011.05.025. Epub 2011 May 25. Human chorionic gonadotropin in pregnancy diagnostics.

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