Why tweaking your pregnancy test isn't a great idea

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 Photo: Getty Images

Just when you thought that you'd seen and heard it all when it comes to photoshopping images, think again. Because, in what is fast becoming a growing trend, women are now editing their pregnancy test photos in order to obtain an early result. 

The editing, commonly known as 'tweaking', works by enhancing the visibility of very faint lines on a pregnancy test. It can be carried out by using filters or downloading an app.

One particular app, called Early HPT+, promises to "take the guesswork out of faint positive pregnancy tests by tweaking your pregnancy test", making it a must-have download for the impatient woman during the two week wait between the baby making act and a test result.  

To undertake the tweaking process, an image of your pregnancy test is uploaded into the app from your camera roll. From there, it can be tweaked using filters that adjust contrast and brightness to "pick up on pregnancy test dye". (See image below.)

According to the app's site, the "filters pull dye activated by the pregnancy hormone, eliminating confusion between positive tests and evaporation lines."

Now, as someone who has undergone IVF to fall pregnant twice, I know only too well how excruciatingly long that two week wait can feel before you can do a pregnancy test. Days feel like months, weeks feel like years, and every single symptom or twinge has you guessing if this month is THE ONE.

I have been known to do tests early, and even multiple tests in one day. So while I think the tweaking trend is, in theory, totally unnecessary, I can also relate to how tempting it could be.

In reality, I question how helpful this is, both in terms of accuracy, and also a mental health perspective.   

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Dr Joseph Sgroi, a representative from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says the problem these days is twofold.

"Women are very anxious, firstly about falling pregnant and, secondly, about telling everyone very quickly," he says.

"But the problems come when a tweaked test tells you that you're pregnant when actually you're not. It feels like false hope, and telling people has caused such a heightened level of anxiety and anticipation."

Dr Sgroi says that the accuracy of these tests is also questionable, because pregnancy hormones can react with other hormones that are secreted in urine, resulting in a false positive.

"We know there is an inherent inaccuracy in pregnancy tests anyway, and the only real way of conclusively confirming a pregnancy is by a blood test or ultrasound – particularly if the line is very faint," he says.

From a mental health perspective, Dr Sgroi is also concerned about the impact that tweaking and posting of positive results can have on others.

"Seeing other women saying 'look at me, I can fall pregnant easily', can cause undue and additional stress for some women – particularly those who are finding it very difficult to fall pregnant."

Dr Sgroi says that while we shouldn't begrudge women the anticipation and excitement of falling pregnant, tweaking a result is not the way to go.

"If you think you're pregnant and the result isn't positive, I would advise you to see a doctor or obstetrician and have formal blood tests," he says. 

"If you really think you're pregnant it's also important to accurately find out, as it has implications on when the first pregnancy scans and further screening tests take place."

And if you still really want to share the news early? 

"I would rather see people posting pictures of their positive blood tests than a tweaked pregnancy test," concludes Dr Sgroi.