How to Interpret Pregnancy Test Results

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A home pregnancy test can tell you whether or not you’re pregnant, but you have to read it correctly. Though the process can seem straightforward, it’s sometimes harder than it looks. Faint lines called “evaporation lines” often show up after 10 minutes, which could cause you to think you received a positive result though you are not pregnant. A negative result doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not pregnant, either. Interpret the results of your pregnancy test by knowing what to look for.

Step 1

Perform the test as suggested by the manufacturer. If you don’t follow the instructions exactly — not leaving it in the urine stream long enough, for example — you may get invalid or inaccurate test results.

Step 2

Wait the allotted time. Typically, results will be ready between two and five minutes.

Step 3

Look for the control line. Most pregnancy tests have some type of control line to signal that you did the test correctly. This is sometimes a line in a separate control window and sometimes a line in the main reading area of the test.

Step 4

Compare your test results to the picture on the package. In some versions of the test, a single line means “not pregnant” and a double line means “pregnant.” In other versions, a single horizontal or vertical line means “not pregnant” while a plus sign means “pregnant.” Digital tests display the words “Pregnant” and “Not Pregnant.” A faint line can mean that you are pregnant if it appears sooner than 10 minutes. After this time period, it’s an evaporation line and does not mean that you are pregnant.

Step 5

Retake the test in a few days to a week if it was negative or had a faint line and you have still not started your period. It’s possible that you didn’t have enough of the pregnancy hormones in your urine to get a positive result.

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