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Should you use Photoshop to decipher your pregnancy test?

For most women, waiting until you miss your period (or just before it) to take a pregnancy test can feel like the longest two-week wait in the world. In this era of instant gratification, it seems strange to have to go this long without an answer, right? Well, some women have discovered the power of technology to help interpret their pregnancy tests. Yes, really!

A program that was once thought to be just for cropping photos and adding nice filters has now become a way to try and outsmart your pregnancy test. Some believers state that programs like Photoshop can take a photo of a pregnancy test and with a little editing magic — voila! — make that second line that was once hidden magically appear, cropping days off of having to wait to know if you are truly pregnant.

In fact, an app has even been created so women can do this right on their smartphones. From the privacy of your bathroom, you can pee on a stick, upload your photo, edit it, and see if you might be pregnant well before your period would even think of making an appearance.

However, is this too good to be true? Or even harmful?

The answer to both of these questions is: yes, possibly.

You see, pregnancy tests can sometimes be wrong. And the biggest reason is that women test too early. Relying on a computer program, then, to manipulate a picture of a pregnancy test is a bit dicey. You might be able to change the contrast and filters enough to make you think you see a line that means you are pregnant, but it could be a false positive. This means a line might be there (or you think there is one there) when you aren’t really pregnant. For example, this sometimes happens when a test is read long after it’s supposed to be and what is called an “evaporation line” develops. It might be possible that over-processing an image may lead to the same thing.

So a woman using an app to edit her pregnancy test — an unproven technology at best — may then think she is pregnant when the test was actually negative. If she ends up getting her period, she may have think she miscarried – leading to undue emotional stress and possibly even unnecessary medical treatment and worry in future pregnancies.

Some physicians have also stated concerns that women, who may be able to edit their images to see a positive pregnancy test and actually are pregnant, may go on to miscarry for real when, if they had waited to test, they would have just thought they were getting their period. These doctors state that this may again put more stress upon women, many of whom miscarry long before they realize they are pregnant, as more may then go through this experience.

I’m not sure how I feel about that concern. I think if anything, making the public realize how common miscarriage is might be helpful, because women will realize they are not alone and that it is not their fault. However, I do agree it may lead to undue medical treatment instead of watchful waiting because many doctors may feel obligated to over-treat these now-recognized miscarriages with medicine or additional lab tests or follow-up.

So, should you run to download this app or get proficient in using Photoshop if you are trying to conceive? I wouldn’t. It’s not proven and while it could be fun to try, it might lead to more harm than good.

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery and has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Comments

  1. Wow – I know that I am the least patient person when it comes to finding out if I am pregnant or not… least patient. However, I wouldn’t want to manipulate the image to that degree, risking undue stress and emotional upset if the line is not the right kind of line – or something to that effect. You are only talking a few days until you get the “real result”.

    Reply
    1. Yep Tove, I agree with you!

      Reply
  2. I hadn’t heard of this but it’s interesting for sure and a sign of the instant gratification world we live in. We want everything now! And with pregnancy being one of the most exciting (or terrifying I guess) things, it makes sense that companies would innovate to capitalize on the “I want it now” attitude in the pregnancy space.

    Reply
    1. I agree – I can totally understand why women would want to know ASAP. Soon there will be nothing your smartphone can’t do… 😉

      Reply

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