6 Of The World’s First Pregnancy Tests

Image via www.photographybyjoelle.com/Flickr
Image via www.photographybyjoelle.com/Flickr

In 2013, Clearblue introduced the the United States to the world’s first digital pregnancy test that automatically tells you how many weeks pregnant you are. (Sidenote: the test only works up until about three weeks of pregnancy.)

And when you think about how far we have come to reach a point where simply peeing on a stick can tell us not only if we are pregnant, but how pregnant we are, it’s kind of amazing.

So let’s take a fun little look back at the history of pregnancy testing, shall we?  

ADVERTISEMENT

Image via Lnk.Si/Flickr
Image via Lnk.Si/Flickr

1. Wheat and barley. According to the National Institutes of Health, the first documented pregnancy test comes to us from those ancient lovers of papyrus: the Egyptians. Scholars found a papyrus roll from 1350 B.C. that describes how a woman could pee on barley and wheat seeds to predict if she was having a boy or a girl. The resulting sprouts that grew would give her answer. (Barley meant boy.) The test was surprisingly accurate. When the theory was later tested in the 1960s, scientists found that if pregnant women pee on the seeds, they actually did grow. 

Image via ruben i/Flickr
Image via ruben i/Flickr

2. The ol’ alcohol test. We all know that our ancestors in the Middle Ages were quite fond of their ale, and apparently, it served many purposes. Historians have found that people that lived in the Middle Ages used to mix the urine of suspected pregnant women with alcohol and observe it to predict if she was pregnant. Again, surprisingly, we know that the proteins of a pregnant woman’s pee react with alcohol, so this may have just worked for those Middle-Aged preggos. (Source: NIH)

ADVERTISEMENT

Image via Polybiotique/Flickr
Image via Polybiotique/Flickr

3. Rat lab. In 1927, after scientists had isolated the hcG hormone, they performed the first crude pregnancy test by injecting regular and pregnant women’s urine into rats. (Sidenote: Are we ever going to develop an easy, non-urine pregnancy test?) Surprise, surprise, the preggo’s urine caused a reaction in the rats. This test was later “improved” by using rabbits, which gave much faster results, but unfortunately, also had to be killed after results were obtained. (Source: NIH

Image via Trondheim Havn/Flickr
Image via Trondheim Havn/Flickr

4. Don’t try this at home. The first reliable pregnancy test was introduced in 1970, but as the instructions clearly showed it wasn’t for use at home, required a qualified man in a lab coat to perform it, and it took two hours for results. (Source: NIH

ADVERTISEMENT

Image via dawgbyte77/Flickr
Image via dawgbyte77/Flickr

5. Please submit in writing. Even as late at 1973, reliable home pregnancy testing still wasn’t available. But good news! Women could collect their urine at home, submit a written request to a laboratory, and then send in their sample via the mail to find out if they were expecting. Couldn’t be more simple. (Source: NIH)

Image via BrownGuacamole/Flickr
Image via BrownGuacamole/Flickr

6. e.p.t. The first at-home pregnancy test, from e.p.t.—whose name started out as “Early Pregnancy Test”—finally hit the market. (Source: NIH)

Finally! Ladies everywhere can move past peeing on seeds and onto something more dignified, like, um, a plastic stick. Perhaps this whole pregnancy testing timeline might have another addition soon. Hear that scientists?  

Read More

What do you think?

6 Of The World’s First Pregnancy Tests

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

Tell us what you think!

×