False-Positive Pregnancy Test: 11 Possible Causes


The most common way to detect pregnancy is with the use of a home pregnancy test stick. This requires your urine sample to absorb and give you the result. The stick detects the presence of the pregnancy, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), hormones that are generally produced before, during, and after pregnancy. However, at times there appears a line on the pregnancy test stick that signifies a positive result, even though it is not so. Before you panic and jump to conclusions, here are the core possibilities to keep in mind:

11 Things That Can Cause a False-Positive Pregnancy Test 

Chemical pregnancy

This happens when the fertilised egg; the embryo; is not being able to implant or grow as it should. There may be some problem inside your uterus that might lead to this problem of your egg not being able to develop into a foetus, which means that you are technically not pregnant, yet your body goes through the same reproductive cycle. Chemical pregnancy is not very uncommon. It is, in fact, not detected if a pregnancy test is not conducted. So, if a pregnancy test shows you a false-positive result, visit the doctor soon.

Ectopic pregnancy

At times, the fertilised egg or the embryo implant itself and starts developing outside your uterus lining. This situation is called an ectopic pregnancy. Usually, in this kind of a pregnancy, the egg gets stuck inside your fallopian tube on its way to your uterus. Hence it starts growing there. This can also take place inside the cervix or the ovaries. However, in this situation, since there is a pregnancy-like development, the level of your hCG hormone rises and the home test device indicates that you are carrying. But in reality you are not actually ‘pregnant’.

Positive Pregnancy Test

Molar pregnancy

This is a situation in which a small uterine tumour grows in size and becomes more like a foetus outside or on the wall of the uterus. In this growth, there is no embryo or placental tissue, and there is only one category of chromosomes; XY; present in this growth. Due to this pregnancy-like growth inside the uterus, the hCG hormones rise and provide a false-positive test result.

Recent miscarriage

If you have faced a silent or unnoticed miscarriage in the very early stage of pregnancy, which was also unknown, it is likely that the hCG hormone is still present in your system. If you miss a period and thus try a home pregnancy test, you might see a faint positive line denoting that you are pregnant. Although it is partly true, you must know that you actually ‘were’ pregnant.


Recent abortion

If you have gone through an abortion recently, you still have the hCG hormones running in your body. It takes a while for these hormones to subside and stop being produced. During this period briefly after the abortion, if you miss a period and try out a pregnancy test at home, you are likely to get a false-positive result due to the presence of those pregnancy hormones.

Erratic usage of the pregnancy test stick

Before using the pregnancy test stick, make sure that you read the instructions clearly. It states the time that has to be provided to the device to absorb your urine and formulate the result. As it is understandable that you are probably anxious, you might end up not giving the device the time it requires. In that case, you see a faint line on the stick, which might look like a positive result, while it is not. This will lead to more confusion. Hence, follow the instructions stated on the pack.

Thick evaporation lines

After your urine has evaporated from the pregnancy test device, there might be some traces of thick faded lines. It might seem that that stick is stating a positive result with regard to your possible pregnancy. However, keep in mind the other symptoms of pregnancy in order to understand whether it indeed is a pregnancy.

Side effects of medication

Many women tale regular medicines that might have side effects and affect their reproductive system or their bodies as a whole. Hence, it may disrupt your body’s ability to produce hormones in a balanced manner. Hence, there might be a greater trace of the hCG hormone in your reproductive system, making the testing stick believe that you are pregnant. Thus you may see a false-positive blue line on the stick.

Urinary tract infection

This is one of the most common infections that every woman has faced at least once in her lifetime. This infection necessarily disrupts the pH balance of your urine and thus leads to a distorted result published on the home pregnancy test stick. If you feel a constant burning or itching sensation down there, visit a gynaecologist without any delay.

Ovarian cysts

The functioning of your ovaries is vital in determining your pregnancy. A particular kind of cyst, known as ‘corpus luteum’, affects the hormonal balance of your body and increases the level of hCG. If you have this disease, a pregnancy test will naturally show a false-positive result.


Kidney diseases

Some kidney diseases can lead to visible traces of blood or white blood cells (WBCs) in your urine. In this situation, the pH level of your urine tends to be skewed and hence it leads to a distorted pregnancy result. A false-positive line appears on the stick, denoting that you have conceived. If you are aware of your situation, visit the doctor and get an ultrasound scan done. If not, look out for the other obvious symptoms of pregnancy to understand whether you are truly pregnant. However, visit the doctor to be doubly sure.

If you miss a period and find a faint blue positive looking line on the home pregnancy test device, visit your gynaecologist and get an ultrasound scan done. Even if the ultrasound test cannot provide you with the precise result, the doctor will recommend a blood test or some other tests to go through. Once the problem is detected, you will be given appropriate medication and treated.

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