Here's What A Faint Positive Pregnancy Test *Actually* Means

There are two primary ways to feel about taking an at-home pregnancy test. If you're trying to conceive, you probably feel excited and a little nervous as you sit down on the toilet to pee on the stick. If your possible pregnancy was an accident, you may feel more ambivalent or downright scared. Either way, you're in for a nerve-wracking few minutes as you wait for the result to appear. The only thing worse than not getting the answer you hoped for is an ambiguous answer. What does a faint positive pregnancy test mean? Experts say there are several possibilities.

"Typically, this means that the test is detecting a low level of beta-HCG in someone with a very early pregnancy," Adrienne Zertuche, OB-GYN at Atlanta Women's Healthcare Specialists, tells Romper. "If you find yourself with a faint positive test, I would recommend repeating it in two days." So if you are trying to conceive, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic. If you weren't planning to have a child at this point in your life, a faint positive isn't a guarantee that a baby is on its way.

What happens next will depend on the result of the second pregnancy test. According to Zertuche, "If the repeat test is negative, you probably had a 'chemical pregnancy.'" This means you were pregnant for a short time, but the pregnancy ended on its own for some reason. Women who get a faint positive as a result of a chemical pregnancy should expect a menstrual cycle soon. Again, this may either come as a huge disappointment or a relief depending on your circumstance.

On the other hand, "If the repeat test is positive, then you should call your obstetrician about getting scheduled for a visit to confirm your pregnancy with in-office testing and possible ultrasound," says Zertuche. If this is an intended pregnancy, you can now celebrate with sparkling apple cider and a creative way of sharing the news with your partner. (You may want to wait out the first trimester before sharing the news with the wider world.)

If your pregnancy was accidental and you're not sure whether or not you want to have a baby, it's still a good idea to see your doctor. Your OB-GYN can discuss all of your options with you.

Either way, you're not alone in this experience. "Faint positive home urine pregnancy test results are fairly common," says Zertuche. Part of the reason for the common phenomenon of faint positives may be the growing number of at-home tests that promise the earliest possible results. In some cases, you may be able to take a pregnancy test even before you've missed your period. These "early test" products satisfy the demand from women who are trying to get pregnant and want to know as soon as possible if they succeeded. However, they can also cause confusion and pain if a false positive leads to a firm negative the following week.

At the very least, a faint positive leaves you in limbo until it can be confirmed, which isn't that much different from simple waiting. You might be better off saving yourself $20 and just wait to test until a few days or so after your expected period.

Personally, I know how hard it is to wait. In the nearly a year it took for me to get pregnant with my first child, I went through many boxes of ovulation and pregnancy tests. I think I even had a faint positive or a downright negative test result a week or so before I found out I was definitely pregnant. Only in hindsight can I say that it was no big deal and everything worked out for the best.

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