What’s a Dye Stealer Pregnancy Test?
- Getting a dye stealer pregnancy test result means that your hCG levels are very high.
- Dye stealer pregnancy tests may indicate a pregnancy that is a few weeks along or a multiple-baby pregnancy.
- If your control line disappears completely, you should retake your test using a different test strip.
- A dye stealer pregnancy test does not guarantee a healthy pregnancy, twins, or a specific gender of your baby.
Most pregnancy tests are fairly easy to use and interpret. Digital pregnancy tests are the most straightforward, usually indicating either “pregnant” or “not pregnant” on the readout. Tests that show an extra line with a positive result can be a little bit more tricky to interpret, though. You may get a strong test line, an evaporation line, a faint test line, or a dye stealer.
The pregnancy test result you see when you take a test is dependent on your hormone levels at the time of testing. A dye stealer pregnancy test usually indicates that you tested at a time when your hCG levels were very high.
If you’re trying to get pregnant or think you might be pregnant, it’s important to know what a dye stealer pregnancy test is and what it means.
Understanding a Dye Stealer Pregnancy Test
Pregnancy tests usually have space for two lines. After the test comes into contact with urine, either one line, two lines, or a plus sign will appear. Every pregnancy test kit should have a control line, which helps the user determine whether the test is functioning correctly.
Getting a dye stealer pregnancy test means that the ink from the control line is pulled into the test line of your pregnancy test. This means that the test will show a darker test line as a result and leave only a faint line at the control.
If the control line completely disappears, you should consider it an invalid pregnancy test. Re-take your pregnancy test or see your primary care provider to get a confirmation blood test done.
Mechanism Behind the Dye Stealer
A pregnancy test is designed to test for high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, otherwise known as the pregnancy hormone, in the urine. In a healthy pregnancy, hCG levels begin to rise a few days before a woman’s missed period and can be detected by a blood test or a urine test.
Usually, the more hCG hormone that a pregnancy test detects, the darker the test line will become. If a pregnant woman takes a test when hCG levels reach their peak, the test may have such a strong result that the test line steals dye from the control line.
Causes and Implications of a Dye Stealer
Now that you know how to identify a dye stealer test, you may be wondering exactly what that darker test line really means for you and your baby.
All pregnancies go through a natural progression in hCG levels. As pregnancy progresses, hCG levels continue to rise. According to the Cleveland Clinic11. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22489-human-chorionic-gonadotropin, hCG levels begin to rise around week 3 of pregnancy and continue to rise until week 10.
Higher hCG levels will usually make the test line appear darker. If you take a pregnancy test around week 4 of gestation, you will probably have a faint positive pregnancy test. If you continue to test every day, the test will get darker and darker until you eventually have a dye stealer result.
In addition, the higher hCG levels that cause a dye stealer test may be caused by twin pregnancies. A small study22. Jovanovic, L., Landesman, R., & Saxena, B. B.. Screening for Twin Pregnancy. Science. 1977;198(4318), 738–738. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.910156 conducted by Lois Jovanovic, Robert Landesman, and Brij B. Saxena at Cornell University showed that twin pregnancies were more likely to have higher initial hCG levels than single pregnancies.
Unfortunately, molar pregnancies33. Molar Pregnancy: Types, symptoms, causes & treatments. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17889-molar-pregnancy can also result in a dye stealer confirmation. Some molar pregnancies produce higher levels of hCG and can cause a false positive dye stealer test.
Often, pregnancy test progression to a darker and darker test line is a good sign that your pregnancy is progressing normally. While a dye stealer can be a good sign, you should still speak with your healthcare provider about confirming pregnancy.
If you do get a dye stealer, be careful not to assume a pregnancy of multiple babies. While dye stealer tests are more common with twins, dye stealers can not be used to confirm a twin pregnancy.
When to Expect a Dye Stealer
A dye stealer test is more likely to be seen in pregnancies that are further along. However, some tests actually start to produce a false negative when hCG levels get too high. This is caused by something called the hook effect.
A dye stealer test is most likely to occur between 6 and 10 weeks of pregnancy. However, every pregnancy is different. Some women will have higher hCG levels than others. It’s also important to remember that every pregnancy test has a different sensitivity, and some tests may be more likely to result in a dye stealer pregnancy test than others.
Dye Stealer: Myths and Facts
Looking for information online about a dye stealer test may leave you feeling more confused than before. Unfortunately, online parenting groups, advertisements, and even news articles can contain false information.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions regarding a dye stealer pregnancy test:
- A certain gender of baby is more likely to have a darker test line.
- Dye stealer tests mean you will have a healthy pregnancy.
- A chemical pregnancy cannot cause a stealer pregnancy test.
- Getting a dye stealer pregnancy test means you are having a twin pregnancy.
When you take a pregnancy test, keep the following in mind:
- Tests without a control line should be discarded.
- A chemical pregnancy can still give a strong positive pregnancy test.
- In a healthy pregnancy, test lines can disappear over time due to the hCG hormone hook effect.
- Even a faint line on a pregnancy test means you are in the early stages of pregnancy.
- Testing too early may result in a false negative test.
- A dye stealer result may indicate a twin pregnancy, but it’s not a guarantee.
Regardless of whether you get a dark test line on your pregnancy test or a light one, there are a few things to keep in mind when you suspect that you’re pregnant.
When to Consult a Healthcare Professional
It’s important to follow the recommended schedule for prenatal appointments if you’re pregnant. Once you have a positive pregnancy test, schedule an appointment with your chosen OB-GYN or midwife to confirm your hCG levels and ensure that you’re ready for a healthy pregnancy.
After your first prenatal appointment, the Mayo Clinic44. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Prenatal care: 1st trimester visits. Mayo Clinic. 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-care/art-20044882 recommends seeing your chosen healthcare provider at least once every month. During these appointments, you’ll discuss the development of your baby, management of uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms, healthy weight gain, potential complications for you or your baby, and more.
You may need to schedule additional visits with your healthcare provider if you experience:
- Severe headaches
- New blurred vision
- Extreme nausea
- Dizziness or fainting
- Swelling in the feet or legs
- Tingling in the hands or feet
Even though pregnancy tests are known to be quite accurate, it’s important to manage expectations early in pregnancy. The American Congress of Gynecologists and Obstetricians55. Early Pregnancy Loss. ACOG. 2021. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-bulletin/articles/2018/11/early-pregnancy-loss#:~:text=Incidence,the%20first%20trimester%202%203. states that approximately 10% of pregnancies end in early miscarriage. This risk increases with older maternal age, conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and lifestyle choices like smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.
While getting a dye stealer pregnancy test can be considered a good sign of rising hCG levels, you should confirm pregnancy with your healthcare provider. Pregnancy tests cannot detect the difference between a healthy single pregnancy, twin pregnancy, molar pregnancy, or chemical pregnancy. Confirmation by ultrasound is the best way to know exactly what’s happening inside your body after a positive pregnancy test.
Are certain brands of pregnancy tests more likely to get a dye stealer result?
A dye stealer pregnancy test has more to do with a woman’s hCG levels than the brand of test she uses. However, early detection or more sensitive pregnancy tests may be more likely to give you a dye-stealing test result.
Is there a difference in dye stealer results between digital and line pregnancy tests?
Since digital readout tests do not have control and test lines, they cannot have dye stealer results. Digital pregnancy tests will simply indicate that a woman is “pregnant” or “not pregnant” based on whether or not the test detects the hCG hormone in the urine.
How does the time of day impact the likelihood of getting a dye stealer test result?
Typically, first-morning urine is more concentrated than urine later in the day. This is because people don’t usually drink any liquids throughout the night. This is the reason why most healthcare providers recommend taking a pregnancy test first thing in the morning.
Because of the more concentrated urine, testing first thing in the morning is more likely to result in a dye stealer test result.
What should I do if I get a dye stealer result but no pregnancy symptoms?
While some women experience obvious pregnancy symptoms like nausea and breast tenderness right away, other women do not experience many symptoms while in early pregnancy. Even the same woman can have a very different experience between each of her pregnancies.
If you get any positive pregnancy test, whether it’s a faint line or a dye-stealer, you should make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.
Can a dye stealer result be a false positive due to medications or medical conditions?
A dye stealer test usually indicates pregnancy, but there are exceptions. Molar pregnancies are known to produce higher levels of hCG and may cause a dye stealer result. In addition, some fertility medications raise the levels of hCG in the blood and can cause a false positive pregnancy test result.
Medications like pain relievers, antibiotics, and contraceptives have no effect on hCG levels and will not impact the results of a pregnancy test.
- Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, March 11). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22489-human-chorionic-gonadotropin
- Jovanovic, L., Landesman, R., & Saxena, B. B. (1977). Screening for Twin Pregnancy. Science, 198(4318), 738–738. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.910156
- Molar Pregnancy: Types, symptoms, causes & treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, November 26). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17889-molar-pregnancy
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, August 6). Prenatal care: 1st trimester visits. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-care/art-20044882
- Early Pregnancy Loss. ACOG. (2021). https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-bulletin/articles/2018/11/early-pregnancy-loss#:~:text=Incidence,the%20first%20trimester%202%203.
The information WonderBaby provides is not intended to be, and does not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. Always consult with a qualified medical professional about your specific circumstances.
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