Dye Stealer Pregnancy Test Meaning (& Other Anomalies)

A positive pregnancy test that shows the test line as being darker or more pronounced than the control line is referred to as a dye stealer.

This phenomenon happens when your hCG levels are particularly high, and it indicates a strong positive result.

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.

The control should still be visible even with a dye stealer result.

The Office on Women’s Health warns that:

“If the control line is blank, then the test did not work and you should take another test.”

Many women test religiously until they get a dye stealer confirmation. I know I did. 

When I saw my first dye stealer pregnancy result, I was ecstatic! I was thrilled to be pregnant again and wound up with perfect twin boys!

Understanding Dye Stealer Pregnancy Tests

Some pregnancy test detects levels of hCG as soon as 5-7 days before a missed period, but it’s advised to wait to test until after you’ve missed your period for more accurate results.

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.

A graphic image comparing a normal positive pregnancy test to a dye stealer pregnancy test.

Why Dye Stealers Occur

A dye stealer pregnancy test occurs 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 is not 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.

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.

Image provided by: Glowing.com Community

When Should You Get a Dye Stealer Pregnancy Test?

The occurrence of a dye stealer is dependent on your hCG levels.

For most women, a dye stealer pregnancy test is more likely to occur once their hCG levels are very high, which typically happens several weeks into pregnancy.

This is often after a missed period and well into the first trimester.

Women often see a dye stealer around 18 days past ovulation (DPO) or 4 weeks, but some women may experience a dye stealer earlier or later than others, and others might not ever have one.

Not all pregnancy tests are designed to show a dye stealer effect, and some tests may have a maximum intensity for the test line.

Also, not all pregnancies will result in a dye stealer because hCG levels can vary from person to person.

Pregnancy Test Progression 

With a First Response Early Response pregnancy test (FRER), pregnancy can be detected as early as 5 days before a missed period. Testing early in pregnancy will result in a faint positive line.

Testing first thing in the morning provides the most accurate results due to the concentration of the urine.

HCG levels typically double every 72 hours and peak between 8 and 11 weeks before declining and leveling off for the remainder of the pregnancy.

If you continue to test daily after your first positive result, you will typically see the test line becoming darker each day, indicating a rise in hCG levels, until the hCG level reaches a plateau, meaning it has reached its highest level and stabilizes.

Once your hCG levels stabilize, you will no longer see the test line becoming darker.

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.

Chart of hCG Levels by Week

Days from Last Menstrual Period (LMP)Typical hCG Range (mIU/mL)
28-35 (4-5 weeks)5 – 426
35-42 (5-6 weeks)18 – 7,340
42-49 (6-7 weeks)1,080 – 56,500
49-56 (7-8 weeks)7,650 – 229,000
56-63 (8-9 weeks)25,700 – 288,000
63-70 (9-10 weeks)23,000 – 291,000
70-77 (10-11 weeks)17,700 – 245,000
77-84 (11-12 weeks)13,300 – 253,000
84-91 (12-13 weeks)9,000 – 210,000
91-98 (13-14 weeks)6,500 – 229,000

*These are average ranges. hCG levels can vary widely from one individual to the next.

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, a dye stealer cannot prove a healthy pregnancy. It just demonstrates high levels of hCG.

To confirm a healthy pregnancy, an ultrasound, OBGYN, and blood tests give the most accurate results.

Can a Dye Stealer Result Be Wrong?

While a dye stealer result is a strong indicator of pregnancy, no test is 100% accurate.

Factors such as testing too early, using a diluted urine sample, or even a faulty test can potentially lead to inaccurate results.

Should You Retest After a Dye Stealer?

At a certain point in the pregnancy when hCG levels drop and stabilize, the positive test line will no longer continue to 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.

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.

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, a twin pregnancy can only be confirmed via ultrasound.

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 were 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 that implantation has taken place and 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 that 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 test 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—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 on 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 that 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 within a few days to see if the line grows stronger and deeper in color. 

Faint Positive Pregnancy Test, Then Negative, No Period

A faint positive result and then a negative with no period can occur for several reasons.

The time of day and how early into the pregnancy the test was taken can both influence the results.

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 that a chemical pregnancy or an early miscarriage occurred and the body has yet to process this. 

A rare but possible reason for a positive followed by 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 negative result even though a woman is pregnant and can happen once a woman is more than 5 weeks pregnant.

The hook effect occurs when a woman has such a tremendous amount of hCG in her blood and urine that the antibodies the test uses are overwhelmed and unable to bind to the hormone as intended. 

The hook effect happens most often in twin/triplet pregnancies, ectopic pregnancies, cancers, or other pregnancy-related conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

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.

Your urine when you first wake up has a higher concentration of hCG than urine produced during the day or evening, 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 in some cases, but the positive pregnancy result line will likely be faint.

Can Certain Medications Affect a Dye Stealer Result?

Certain medications, such as those used in fertility treatments, contain hCG and might potentially affect the results of a pregnancy test, leading to a dye stealer result even if you’re not pregnant.

Can I Get a Dye Stealer Result With a Digital Pregnancy Test?

Digital pregnancy tests typically just display a clear “pregnant” or “not pregnant” message, so they don’t provide a dye stealer result.

However, high hCG levels would still lead to a positive result on a digital test.