By Erin PhelanUpdated May 10, 2019
A strange phenomenon is gaining momentum on the Internet: "tweaking" pictures of pregnancy test sticks to see a positive result, ever so faintly. Women are trying to find out, earlier than home pregnancy tests are designed to show, if they’re pregnant by taking a picture of their test stick and using programs like Photoshop to enhance the image. Women in online baby chat-rooms are helping each other out, providing the technological know-how and emotional support.
And, there’s even an app for that.
The Early HPT+ app available through iTunes, allows you to load a picture of a pregnancy test from your camera and the app uses filters that enhance or darken the pregnancy test dye.
With any technological innovation, one has to wonder if the benefits outweigh the risks. Dan Nayot, a fertility specialist with TCART Fertility Partners in Toronto, says he’s unsure if ‘tweaking’ would show an accurate result. One risk is that a tweaked test would still show a negative, and the woman might actually be pregnant. Or, if it shows a positive, it might indicate a biochemical pregnancy.
“A biochemical pregnancy is a sign of implantation, but very often the pregnancy doesn’t progress any further. A woman might have a heavier period and never would have known she was pregnant,” says Nayot.
For some women who are trying to conceive, even a biochemical pregnancy could be good news: “It does prove that you’re ovulating, that at least one of your tubes is open, and that you were able to get to the embryo stage,” says Nayot.
But, knowing about a pregnancy that doesn't make it can can bring a huge sense of disappointment. “Would they rather know or not? I don’t know the answer,” says Nayot.
I understand the anguish around getting pregnant. I had at least three miscarriages and spent lots of money on pregnancy sticks before having my daughter six years ago. I suspect I also had a biochemical pregnancy—but I'll never know for sure. If I had "tweaked," maybe things would be different. But even though I know the feeling of desperately wanting to see a positive line, I'm not sure I’d want to know about a non-viable pregnancy.
Nayot adds that while "tweaking" might be interesting, it has no clinical advantage and just satisfies a curiosity. “If they wait a few days—they might not need the tweak. Wait it out, do a pregnancy test and then get it confirmed with a blood test.”