ARE HOMEMADE PREGNANCY TESTS RELIABLE?
The oldest known report of what we can call homemade pregnancy test comes from ancient Egypt, in the year 1350 B.C. A test described on a papyrus said that the woman who suspected she was pregnant should urinate on wheat and barley seeds. If the wheat flowered, the woman was pregnant with a girl. If the barley bloomed, the woman was pregnant with a boy. If neither grew, it was a sign that the woman was not pregnant.
In the 1960s, a time when there was not the abundance of scientifically proven pregnancy tests we have today, a group of scientists decided to test the method described on the ancient papyrus. Incredibly, the study showed that the test matched the existence of pregnancy in about 70 percent of cases, a percentage far from being brilliant, but certainly showing a success rate that could not be explained by chance alone. At the time, the great concentration of estrogen in the urine of pregnant women ended up being the explanation for this fact.
This story is interesting because it shows that ancient peoples already recognized (or at least imagined) the role of urine in the diagnosis of pregnancy. Also noteworthy is the fact that more than 3,000 years later, many people still use homemade methods which are not based on the scientific method to try to diagnose a pregnancy.
Therefore, if a homemade test devised by such ancient people, and with primitive scientific knowledge, can present some degree of effectiveness, what will be the real usefulness of the homemade pregnancy tests so propagated by the Internet nowadays?
In this article, we will make a critique of the most popular homemade pregnancy tests, including the ones using bleach, boiling, chlorine, vinegar and toothpaste.
SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN PREGNANCY TESTS
If you are seeking information about scientifically proven pregnancy tests, then none of the homemade tests that are described in this article are for you. None of them, absolutely none, are based on the scientific method.
Before we go on with the explanations of the homemade tests, let’s just remember which pregnancy tests have been properly studied and proven by science. The most reliable pregnancy test that exists is the measurement of blood concentrations of hCG hormone. The success rate of this test is close to 100% when the woman is already at least 1 day late on the menstrual period. Its major drawback is the fact that it is a laboratory test requiring a blood sample (see: WHAT IS BETA hCG – The Pregnancy Test).
Urine tests that can be bought on drugstores are simpler than blood tests because they can be performed at home, and only need a urine sample. The ability to identify the presence of hCG is somewhat lower than that of blood tests, but it is still quite high. The success rate is especially high if the test is done with at least 5 days of menstrual delay.
Currently, a drugstore pregnancy test, also called home pregnancy test (not to be confused with the homemade tests), costs somewhere around $8.00 to $20.00, depending on the brand.
BLEACH PREGNANCY TEST
How is the bleach pregnancy test performed?
The bleach test is simple. You simply mix the woman’s urine with a little bleach in a container. If the solution bubbles or changes color, the test is positive and indicates that you are pregnant.
The test is allegedly based on the indirect detection of hCG, which would react with bleach causing the changes described above.
Criticisms of the bleach pregnancy test:
When we do a quick Google search for information about the homemade bleach test, we are faced with a serious problem, which is also present in almost every home-based pregnacy test we will describe: the complete lack of standardization and methodology.
Note that there is no description about a standard container. Depending on the source, it may be a container made of plastic, glass, acrylic, ceramic, etc. There is also no agreement between the volumes of urine and bleach. The appropriate concentration of bleach is not described, and no one says when the test should be done (how many days of delayed menstruation, for example).
This lack of methodology alone would be enough to make the test unreliable. Anyone who has ever had experience with lab work knows that a small change in the concentration of one reagent may be sufficient to completely change a result.
However, there is an even more serious problem with this test. Urine is rich in urea and has varying amounts of ammonia. The reaction of these substances upon contact with sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is well known. The bubbles are generated by the production of chloramine and chlorine gas. Besides the reaction having nothing to do with the pregnancy hormone hCG, both substances are quite toxic if inhaled. In some cases, the amount of toxic gas produced is relevant, causing a large reaction and an extremely unpleasant odor.
Exposure to chloramine gases can cause the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath.
- Irritation to the throat, nose, and eyes.
In more severe cases, with repeated exposure, even pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs) may occur.
The test seems to be positive for some people and negative for others, whether they are pregnant or not, precisely because of the lack of standardization. Different amounts and concentrations of bleach combined with different amounts and concentrations of urine may generate more, or less, intense reactions.
It is also interesting to note that the test is so unreliable that it can be positive in both men and women.
The bleach pregnancy test not only does not work, but can also generate toxic gases and vapors.
CHLORINE PREGNANCY TEST
How the chlorine pregnancy test is performed:
The chlorine test consists of mixing the woman’s urine with chlorine in a container. If the solution bubbles or changes color, the test is positive and indicates that you are pregnant.
Criticisms of the chlorine pregnancy test:
The chlorine test is really just a variation on the bleach test, as the main component of both substances is the chemical element chlorine. As with bleach, natural urine substances react with chlorine and produce toxic gases, such as trichloramine and cyanogen chloride. Color change and foam production are the result of this reaction. It has nothing to do with the presence of the hCG hormone in the urine.
Just out of curiosity, do you know why in some swimming pools we fell a strong smell of chlorine and our eyes burn and turn red? It is not because these pools have excess chlorine, but rather because they are contaminated with large amounts of urine and sweat. Strong chlorine odor and irritated eyes occur through the toxic substances produced by the urine and sweat mixed with the pool chlorine.
The strong chlorine odor and the irritated eyes are caused by the toxic substances produced from the mixture of urine and sweat with the chlorine in the pool.
The chlorine pregnancy test not only does not work, but can also generate toxic gases and vapors.
TOOTHPASTE PREGNANCY TEST
How the toothpaste test is performed:
In a clear glass, you should mix urine with a small amount of white toothpaste (not colored). If, after 2 minutes, the white paste turns blue or begins to foam, the test is positive.
Criticisms of the toothpaste pregnancy test:
The toothpaste test seems to be a bit more standardized than that of bleach, yet discrepancies between the amount of toothpaste and urine are easily found.
The test does not work. The color change does not occur in most cases, even when the woman is pregnant. Foaming is common and occurs even with men’s urine. The foam is a reaction of the acidity of the urine with the alkaline toothpaste. The acid in the urine can react with the calcium carbonate in the toothpaste, giving off carbon dioxide and producing bubbles. Some toothpastes also contain lauryl ether sulfate, a substance that facilitates foaming. The more alkaline the paste is, and the more acidic the urine, the greater the chance of reactions.
The toothpaste pregnancy test does not work. Positive and negative results occur randomly, according to the composition of the toothpaste and the acidity of the urine.
BOILING URINE PREGNANCY TEST
How the boiling urine test is performed:
The boiling test is very simple and consists only of boiling some urine in an aluminum container. If the urine boils like milk, creating a supernatant, the test is positive. If it boils like water, the test is negative.
Criticisms of the boiling urine test:
Unlike water, which is basically H2O with minimal amounts of some mineral salts, urine is a rich liquid composed of several chemical elements. The substances present in the urine have different boiling points. On the other hand, pure water boils homogeneously. The characteristics of the boil are, therefore, expected to be different. Your urine will only boil like water if it is very diluted. For this to occur, you need to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Consequently, the boil test will be positive for most people, even non-pregnant women and men.
The boiling urine pregnancy test does not work, and it is positive in most cases.
VINEGAR PREGNANCY TEST
How the vinegar test is performed:
The vinegar test is performed by mixing urine and vinegar in a clear container. If the solution changes color or foams, the test is positive. If it does not change color, it is negative.
Criticisms of the vinegar test:
Vinegar is composed of acetic acid, which is a weak acid. Urine is also a mildly acidic substance. In general, the mixing of the two substances does not cause any reaction aside from color change, which is more because the vinegar has a different color or shade from urine. Incidentally, this is one of the problems of the test. There is no standardization of the type of vinegar to be used. In some clinical situations, urine may become alkaline, which would favor the occurrence of reactions with acetic acid. However, this has nothing to do with the presence or absence of the hCG hormone in the urine.
The vinegar pregnancy test does not work.
CONCLUSION REGARDING HOMEMADE PREGNANCY TESTS
We chose 5 tests as an example, but on the Internet there are dozens of them. There are also the needle test, Coca-Cola test, pepper test, etc. We don’t need to talk about them individually because they are all fallacious and do not follow the scientific method.
The truth is that the urine of a pregnant woman in the early days of pregnancy is basically equal to the urine of a non-pregnant woman. The difference is in the presence of the hCG hormone, which is in very low concentrations in the first days. Even if these tests had some scientific basis behind them, they would have little chance of detecting such small amounts of the hCG hormone.
The blood test, which is the most sensitive pregnancy test of all, uses state-of-the-art laboratory techniques developed over decades. Therefore, it is able to identify minimal concentrations of hCG circulating in maternal blood.
If you suspect you may be pregnant but do not want to go to a laboratory to collect blood, purchase a drugstore pregnancy test. They are inexpensive, reliable and provide the result within minutes. It’s no use dirtying pots or glasses with urine, or wasting the chemicals products you have at home. None of them work and, as we have seen, they may even do harm due to toxic vapors.