Pregnancy and parenthood are some of life’s greatest blessings. The adventure begins the moment you discover you are pregnant.
Discovering you are pregnant can bring a wave of emotions; many experience joy, some anxiety, or confusion.
Through all the emotions, the knowledge that you are creating a life comes from a simple pregnancy test — impatiently waiting and watching the control line and the test lines with the eyes of a hawk.
Pregnancy tests test for Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that is produced by the placenta. Many women depend on a dye stealer for confirmation of their pregnancy.
What is a dye stealer test? When the positive test line on a pregnancy test is stronger than the control line, it is called a “dye stealer test.” Pregnancy tests detect hCG. When hCG levels are high, the positive test line can be so strong that it steals the dye from the control line, making the control line very faint.
Dye stealers can feel like an overwhelming “YES!” to being pregnant. Many test religiously until they get a dye stealer confirmation.
So when can you expect a dye stealer? Do dye stealers detect twins? Does everyone get a dye stealer test? Let’s dive in deeper.
Understanding Dye Stealer Pregnancy Tests
When performing a pregnancy test, the pregnancy test detects levels of hCG as soon as 5-7 days before missed period.
These levels of hCG are lower in the early stages of pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses or if it is a twin/multiple pregnancy, the levels of hCG rise due to higher levels of hCG created by the placenta.
When hcG detection is strong, the pregnancy test will turn positive almost immediately, and the test line will be dark and definite while sometimes stealing the dye from the control line.
A dye stealer test results in the control line displaying a fainter line than the test line.
Pregnancy Test Progression
With a First Response Early Response pregnancy test (FRER) pregnancy can be detected as early as 5 days before missed period. Testing early in pregnancy will result in a faint positive line.
HCG levels typically double every 72 hours and peak between 8-11 weeks before declining and leveling off for the remainder of the pregnancy.
Testing daily or every other day after your first positive, you can see the test line darkening indicating a rise in hCG levels. Testing first thing in the morning provides the most accurate results due to the concentration of the urine.
Many women associate dye stealer tests with healthy pregnancies, but this hasn’t been scientifically proven.
Dye stealers are a great indicator that hCG levels are present and strong, but the most accurate way to validate and date your pregnancy is through blood tests and ultrasounds.
What a Dye Stealer Pregnancy Test Looks Like
A pregnancy test resulting in a dark, strong test line and a faint control line is called a “dye stealer test.”
Check out the image below from glowing.com. It shows a dye stealer at the top. Notice the prominent positive test line and the extremely faint control line. This is a perfect example of a dye stealer test.
Why Dye Stealers Occur
Dye stealers occur when the level of hCG in the body is high. High levels of hCG can occur up until 11 weeks of pregnancy before starting to decline and level off for the remainder of the pregnancy.
Dye Stealers can occur early in the pregnancy indicating a very high level of hCG associated with a twin or multiple pregnancy.
A dye stealer isn’t an accurate way of testing for twins; however, if you get a dye stealer test very early on in your pregnancy, it can be a strong indicator.
Does a Dye Stealer Mean High HCG?
Yes, a dye stealer means high hCG levels are present. High hCG levels are an indicator of a progressing pregnancy, and hCG levels peak between 8 and 11 weeks.
Is a Dye Stealer a Good Sign?
Yes! A dye stealer is a great sign. High hCG levels mean a positive pregnancy test! The most accurate way to test hCG levels is through a blood test.
Many associate dye stealer tests with healthy pregnancies; however, dye stealers cannot prove a healthy pregnancy. They just demonstrate high levels of hCG.
To confirm a healthy pregnancy, an ultrasound, OBGYN, and blood tests give the most accurate results.
Does a Dye Stealer Indicate Twins?
Receiving a dye stealer test very early on in pregnancy can indicate twins. Twin pregnancies have much higher levels of hCG.
Having your first test be a dye stealer can be an early indicator of a twin pregnancy; however, it is not accurate or proven until an ultrasound or blood test can confirm.
Should You Retest After a Dye Stealer?
At a certain point in the pregnancy, the positive test line won’t darken.
You can retest as many times as you would like after receiving a dye stealer, but unless you are bleeding or experience symptoms of a miscarriage, the result will remain positive, and there is no reason to keep testing.
As previously stated, the hCG levels will begin to decline and level out for the duration of the pregnancy often resulting in a dye stealer test happening only once out of multiple tests.
Additional Pregnancy Test Anomalies
With a single positive test, your whole life can change; pregnancy tests have a lot of power. Pregnancy tests, if used correctly, are over 99% accurate as they detect hCG.
HCG is only present in the body if you are currently or recently pregnant. Although pregnancy tests are extremely accurate, there is room for error, misuse, and strange results.
Let us break pregnancy test anomalies down to avoid an emotional roller-coaster or confusion.
Pregnancy Test With Faint Line
A faint line usually means implantation has taken place and that you are in the early stages of pregnancy. Even the faintest line means pregnant.
If you receive a faint line at first, you can test again within a couple of days to see if the line darkens with the rise in hCG.
If you receive a faint line and within days or weeks you get your period, it doesn’t mean that a pregnancy didn’t occur; it means that you experienced a very early and common pregnancy loss called a “chemical pregnancy.”
Negative Pregnancy Test at Night and Positive in the Morning
Taking a pregnancy test at night is a common mistake that can lead to a false negative. Pregnancy tests rely on the build of hCG protein in the urine.
The first urination in the morning is the most concentrated and provides the most accurate results. If it was negative in the evening and positive in the morning, chances are you are in the early stages of pregnancy.
Once you are farther along and you have a sufficient amount of hCG in your body, you will be positive day or night.
Evaporation Line Pregnancy Test
Evaporation lines are common and occur on almost all pregnancy tests. They can cause an abundance of confusion and lead to a “false positive.”
An evaporation line is a line that appears in the pregnancy results window after the urine has dried.
This usually happens well after the recommended reaction time and leads people to believe they are pregnant when in fact they are not.
To avoid confusion, read the pregnancy test instructions thoroughly, and check for pregnancy results within the recommended reaction time and not after.
If you feel as though you received a false positive due to an evaporation line; test again or check with your primary providers to receive a test.
Faint Line of Pregnancy Test After Time
If you take a home pregnancy test and you receive a faint positive line there is a strong possibility you are pregnant.
A faint positive can be a result of low hCG levels meaning you are in the early stages of pregnancy.
However, if you checked the test after the recommended reaction time, chances are you are seeing an evaporation line that appears after the recommended read time.
If you are receiving a faint line and you are within the recommended time, you are pregnant. If the line is faint, it is always important to test again to see if the line grows stronger and deeper in color.
Faint Positive Pregnancy Test, Then Negative, No Period
A faint positive, then a negative with no period can occur for several reasons. One reason is the time of day tested and how early into the pregnancy the test was taken.
Urine dilution can play a big factor in the early stage of pregnancy testing, and it is important to test first thing in the morning for the highest concentration of hCG.
Another possibility could be a chemical pregnancy or an early miscarriage occurred and the body has yet to process this. Further reasons include; a missed cycle due to stress, exercise, or medical conditions.
A rare but possible reason for a positive then a negative coupled with no period is the hook effect.
Hook Effect Pregnancy Test
The Hook Effect, although rare, is possible. The Hook Effect results in a positive pregnancy test result followed by a negative result even though a woman is pregnant.
The hook effect can happen once a woman is more than 5 weeks pregnant.
The hook effect happens when a woman has such a tremendous amount of hCG in her blood and urine that it fails to bind, in turn over-saturating and overwhelming the test. This is very rare, only happening to .2% – 2% of women.
The hook effect happens most often in twin/triplet pregnancies, ectopic pregnancies, cancers, or other pregnancy-related conditions.
Is it Better To Take a Pregnancy Test in the Morning or Evening?
It is better to take a pregnancy test first thing in the morning. The morning urine has a more concentrated amount of hCG than in the evenings, making testing in the morning more accurate.
How Soon Will a Pregnancy Read Positive?
You can receive a positive pregnancy test 5 – 7 days before your first missed period. The positive pregnancy result line will likely be faint the earlier you test.
A pregnancy test carries a heavy weight. It can hold the message of pregnancy with tremendous accuracy. However, it isn’t foolproof.
On occasion, pregnancy tests are subject to anomalies, misuse, and errors, making the process complicated.
Whether you are beginning or continuing your journey into parenthood, pregnancy tests are a blessing to have along the way. From providing definitive answers to confirmations, pregnancy tests make the journey that much simpler.
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.