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How to Tell the Difference Between Evaporation Lines

By Maggie McCormick ; Updated April 18, 2017
Determine whether your result is positive or just an evaporation line.

When you're trying to get pregnant, you're likely to take a pregnancy test as soon as there's even a small chance that it will show a positive pregnancy result. A popular saying among women that "a line is a line" implies that any time you see a second line on a pregnancy test, you're pregnant is misleading. Sometimes, "evaporation lines" appear. These may look like a positive result, but actually do not indicate that you are pregnant. Learn to tell the difference between evaporation lines and faint positive lines.

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Follow the manufacturer's instructions for taking the pregnancy test. Some will allow you to hold the stick into you urine stream as you go, while others require you to collect your urine in a cup and dip the stick into the urine or use a dropper to place urine on the test stick.

Read the test within the specified time frame. In most cases, you should read your pregnancy test results within five minutes. Evaporation lines are more likely to show up after 10 minutes and do not signify a positive test.

Look for color on the test line. A faint positive result will show up as a faint blue or pink line. Evaporation lines are grey, white or colorless but still visible.

Tilt the test to see if there's an indentation. You can often tell that you're looking at an evaporation line by noticing that the line is actually an indentation rather than a true visible line.

Wait a day or two and take a new test, using the first urine of the morning. Though you may suspect that your result is a faint positive, it's difficult to be sure. Some brands do have evaporation lines that look like a faint positive. If you take the test in a day or two, you'll have more of the pregnancy hormone in you urine and your test will show a strong positive.

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About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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