When you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant, it’s confusing when you see that faint line in the results window and wonder if you’re really pregnant — or not. Can you take a home pregnancy test and trust the results? And once you have taken a test, how can you read it accurately to know if it’s positive or negative?

How Home Pregnancy Tests Work

Pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg burrows into the wall of your uterine lining (implantation). Once the fertilized egg implants, the placenta forms and produces a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) [1].

It’s the hCG pregnancy hormone that a home pregnancy test detects to tell you if you’re pregnant.

When Can You Take a Home Pregnancy Test?

The levels of hCG in your blood and urine double every couple of days, so it’s best to take a home pregnancy test after you have missed your period because the levels are higher. If you take a test too early, you could get a false negative result. If you don’t test too early, you will get an accurate result that’s easier to read.

The accuracy of a home pregnancy test depends on several factors [2]:

  • Did you follow the instructions carefully?
  • When did you ovulate, and when did implantation occur?
  • Did you allow enough time for hCG to build up?
  • How sensitive is the pregnancy test?

How to Read Pregnancy Test Results

The most important thing about accurately reading your pregnancy test result is to read it exactly when the instructions tell you to.

  1. A Positive Pregnancy Test

Digital pregnancy tests are the easiest to read. The test result window will clearly say “pregnant” or “yes” if you’re pregnant.

Single test windows will show two lines side-by-side if your test is positive. One line is the control line, and the second line is the result line.

Two-window tests will show a line in the smaller control window and a plus “+” sign in the larger, second window.

A faint line is considered a positive test as long as you’re reading the result precisely as directed in the instructions.

Although rare, false-positive pregnancy tests can happen. Evaporation lines can cause a negative test to look positive if it sits too long. If your pregnancy test is positive, and you doubt the result, or if you have pain, see your doctor to be sure you don’t have another medical condition that needs attention [3].

  1. A Negative Pregnancy Test

A digital test will say “not pregnant” or “no” if you’re not pregnant.

A single-window test will reveal one line if your test is negative.

A double-window pregnancy test will reveal a line in the control window and another negative line in the test window.

False-negative results are more common than false-positive results. If your pregnancy test is negative, but you still don’t get your period in two days, take another test.

We Can Help

If you think you might be pregnant, Pregnancy Care Clinic offers no-cost pregnancy testing. Our compassionate medical team is available during the COVID-19 crisis to provide you the answers you deserve. Contact us today for a confidential appointment.


[1] Mayo Clinic. (2019, January 12). Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results? Retrieved on May 5, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940

[2] Nazario MD, Brunilda. (2020, February 19). Pregnancy Tests. Retrieved on May 5, 2020 from https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-tests#2-8

[3] Goldberg, Haley. (2019, July 17). 6 Things That Can Cause a False-Positive Pregnancy Test. Retrieved on May 5, 2020 from https://www.self.com/story/false-positive-pregnancy-test