A New Perspective on “Evap Lines”
By Roy Hopodopodopolis
“Hello everyone I get really annoyed when I read all these articles and comments about ‘evaporation lines’ on home pregnancy tests, and especially, when such comments or articles are said to be written by so-called ‘experts’ or ‘clinicians’, and which seem to leave a large number of women with all sorts of doubts and anxieties about test-results. So I thought I would sit and write a few facts about various similar tests. I am a clinician and I also have much experience using various tests within laboratories or clinical settings. I have also been trained in the medical micro-biology (lab-testing).
The home pregnancy tests are ‘assay’ tests which rely on specific reactions between chemicals, to produce coloured lines. The ‘control’ lines of the home pregnancy tests are assayed areas which are designed to react with specific chemicals commonly found in urine, and which, when detected, react with the chemicals in the control-line assays (strips/areas) and turn them a certain colour (pink or blue depending on the test used). However, the ‘pregnancy’ assay (test -area/strip) is designed to change colour only if it comes into contact with the HCG hormone the ‘pregnancy’ hormone. HCG is only produced when an egg has been fertilised. So then, if no conception has occurred, then no HCG will be produced by the body, and therefore, no HCG will ever be found in the urine.
Moving on… sometimes fertilisation occurs and HCG is produced for a while, but for some reason, the body detects that the pregnancy will not be successful (not ‘viable’) and the fertilised egg ceases to continue to divide and develop. So the pregnancy stops. However, until the pregnancy stops, the woman will still be producing HCG, and may well have some of the other ‘usual’ symptoms of pregnancy (though some women have absolutely no symptoms for a considerable period of time), and; although the pregnancy may have stopped almost as soon as it began; it may still take a couple weeks or so for all the HCG in the body to be disposed-of via the urinary system. Also, it may still take a couple weeks or so for the ‘symptoms of pregnancy’ to stop altogether. This process of fertilisation, followed by a very early termination is known as a ‘chemical pregnancy’, and many women can have these, whereby the woman is sure she is pregnant, but then she later has a period even though a home pregnancy test might have shown a faint or clear line in the first couple weeks or so and hence is why some women are left wondering why their period returned.
So for those women whereby, unfortunately, fertilisation has occurred, but the pregnancy was not viable, they were pregnant, but the pregnancy stopped. However, for those women whose egg(s) is fertilised, and for whom the pregnancy continues, then they will continue to produce HCG from the moment of fertilisation, and, those levels of HCG will rise over the coming weeks, and will, at some stage, be readily detectable either by home pregnancy tests, or by blood tests via their local Doctor or Clinic.
So then, back to home pregnancy tests .. I have already said that the control lines react to molecules found within normal urine, and, when those molecules pass over those control-line areas (control ‘assay’ areas) then the molecules come into contact with other molecules within the control assay and they bind together. Indeed, they are attracted to each other by a process known as ‘chemotaxis’. And on contact, two different molecules form a ‘complex’ which changes both it’s shape and it’s colour hence the coloured control lines you see in the test areas. However, if the right molecules are not present in the urine, then no other molecules can bind to the control molecules and no colouration will occur so the test will be ‘void’ and another test should be done.
However, in the event of carrying out a test and the control lines change colour as they should, then the woman or couple is anxiously waiting (if they wish to have a baby that is) for the ‘positive’ or ‘pregnancy’ line to change colour too! And here is where we need to get onto the subject of the ‘faint’ lines and the ‘evaporation’ lines that people keep talking about. Going back to the test-strip; the ‘pregnancy’ line contains different molecules to the molecules of the ‘control’ lines; and the molecules in the pregnancy line/strip (the pregnancy test-assay) will only react and change colour in the presence of one other molecule; and that is the HCG hormone. No other molecule or hormone will cause it to change colour.
Changing the subject slightly, if we take a pure white tissue and add one drop of water onto it, the area of the tissue containing the water will now have turned slightly ‘grey’ because it’s wet. But it wont turn pink or blue. So if we carry out a home pregnancy test and the control lines are pink or blue (depending on the test you use), but the ‘pregnancy’ strip remains white or slightly grey even hours after the test then there has been no HCG detected in the urine, to mix with the pregnancy-strip molecules and to make them change colour (which is what you will be hoping for). So if the strip remains white or slightly grey no matter how many hours or days after you did the test – then the strip is simply wet from the urine, but it does not contain any HCG. So, either you are not pregnant, or, if your period has stopped, then you may still be pregnant but your HCG is so low that it cannot yet be detected by the test.
However, if you do a test and you get the faintest coloured line in the ‘pregnancy’ test-strip/assay area on the test, then HCG has definitely been detected. If it’s faint, then HCG is present in very low concentration, and if it is a dark coloured line, then the concentration of HCG is higher. But whatever the concentrations, provided you get a colour in he ‘pregnancy’ area, then you are pregnant at the time of testing.
And now for the famous ‘evaporation lines’ that so many people and ‘experts’ talk about. To start-with, no evaporation line will be coloured (pink or blue etc. depending on the test you used). Only the HCG can combine with the pregnancy-assay molecules and bring about a colour-change. So if the line is coloured no matter how faint the line is then HCG made the line change colour nothing else! However, just like the wet tissue-paper we talked about earlier, if the area is simply wet with urine, the pregnancy strip may possibly turn a little ‘grey’ like a ‘shadowy’ colour; but if there is no pink or blue colour, then no HCG has been detected. However, remember that the area of the test-stick that you ‘wee’ on is made of a very dense material, and urine will be absorbed by this dense material and will travel along the test-stick by ‘passive-diffusion’.
And liquids like to move from an area of their high concentration to an area of their low concentration, so, because the test-stick is sealed and dry, the urine will travel along it to it’s other end and may ‘drip-out’ inside the sealed area of the stick (the bit after the test and control areas that you cannot see). So the urine will keep moving until the end that you ‘wee’d’ on has no more urine to offer! Then the ‘concentration gradient’ ceases and the ‘diffusion’ will stop. And in most cases, test-sticks especially those with caps on can stay wet for days! So if you go back to the stick an hour, or two, or three or four hours etc after the test; and the ‘pregnancy’ strip has changed colour (pink or blue depending on the test etc), then, whilst the urine has spent several hours travelling up the stick from one end to it’s other and ‘dripping out at the other end the urine has been passing over the ‘pregnancy’ area all the while.
Therefore, even if the HCG levels are virtually undetectable (but present in minute quantities), as the urine travels over the pregnancy-assay, the HCG will still be attracted-to (remember the ‘chemotaxis’ we talked about earlier) and will bind with the molecules in the pregnancy-assay hence a positive coloured line showing up to several hours after the test was done. Like I said, no other molecule or hormone will make the pregnancy-assay change colour except HCG. So, if after an hour, or several hours, you have a coloured line in any way, then HCG has been detected and HCG can only be found in your urine if an egg has been fertilised.
So let’s not have any more if this ‘evaporation line’ confusion. If it’s slightly grey or remains white however long after the test you look – then no HCG is present. But if it ‘s coloured then HCG is present in whatever concentration because only HCG can bring about the colouration of pink/blue, depending on the test you are using. And finally, some tests don’t dry out for days sometimes many days (especially those that you put the caps back on) – so the water-content of the urea has not even evaporated yet people still go on about ‘evaporation lines’ which, in my opinion, is nonsense. And for the record, my Wife’s test had a coloured line several hours after we did the test and I knew she was pregnant despite the articles I read on the internet about evaporation lines.
And indeed, the next tests proved that she was. I am critically aware of the intense emotions involved when people are hoping or trying to become pregnant – and I hate to think of the emotional heartache and anxieties that these mixed or uncertain test-results can cause – hence the reason for taking the time to write this short article. I hope it helps, and feedback – whether positive or otherwise – is always useful. Take care – and lots of baby-dust – to all prospective Mums-n-Dads”
– Credit to Roy Hopodopodopolis