Home pregnancy tests: how does it work?

Marianne Moritzot

Journalist specializing in tourism/gastronomy/wellbeing/parenting

Published on

in collaboration with

Carole Maître (gynaecologist)


Our grandmothers apparently had homemade pregnancy tests to find out if a woman was pregnant. We then mixed urine with bleach, vinegar, salt, sugar… What about today? Can these DIY tests be reliable? Explanations.

The first “real” pregnancy tests date back to the 1960s, when they could detect hCG (the famous pregnancy hormone released at the beginning of pregnancy) directly in a woman’s urine. But what did we do before that? Home pregnancy tests were used. Methods that some women still use today. A fun way to maybe know if you’re pregnant without taking a “classic” pregnancy test.

Pregnancy test recipes at home

In fact, there are grandmothers’ recipes for home pregnancy tests. The basic principle is to always use the potentially pregnant woman’s urine, which would therefore contain the beta-HCG hormone. Then the other elements vary.

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Antique home pregnancy test

Little known, this technique was inherited from ancient Egypt. The concept: to urinate several times a day on grains of barley and wheat. If the barley germinates first, a boy announces himself. If the wheat grows first, it’s a girl. No seeds germinated? The result is negative: the woman is not pregnant. An experience that would have been reproduced in the 1960s, with 70% efficiency….

Observing the color/appearance of his urine

Another method is to pee in a container the night before bed and keep it cool. The color of the urine is observed the next morning. If it is pale lemon or even cream in color and covered with a cloud on its surface, it means you are pregnant. This home pregnancy test would also have been used in medieval times.

needle test

This homemade pregnancy test from Morocco is based on the use of a needle. The pregnant woman urinates into a container before inserting a new needle. The glass is then protected from light. Result 8 hours later: If the needle rusts or turns black, it is positive. The pregnancy was confirmed.

Coarse salt to know if you are pregnant

This method is also accessible to all women. Again, nothing could be simpler. Just pee in a glass and add a pinch of coarse salt. If after a few hours it has melted, the result is positive.

Bleach to detect pregnancy

Always the same basic method of urinating into a glass or jug. But this time you need to add a capful of bleach. When you are pregnant, foam forms and the urine turns dark orange. Be careful, remember that bleach is a dangerous and irritant to health product that must be handled with care, especially in the context of a home pregnancy test.

Sweet Home Pregnancy Test

Here’s a variation: urinate in a glass or pot and pour in the same amount of sugar. Ten minutes later, when the sugar has dissolved, the test is negative. Otherwise you could be pregnant.

Pregnancy test with toothpaste

You will need white toothpaste for this method. Then urinate into a container and pour the urine over a small amount of toothpaste. wait 10 minutes If it turns blue or starts to foam, you are probably pregnant.

Homemade pregnancy test with white vinegar

White vinegar has many uses in the home…but not only! Another DIY pregnancy test recipe would be to fill a jar that is half urine and half white vinegar. Waiting. If the liquid is still the same color after 15 minutes, it is negative.

When should you take a home pregnancy test?

As with any pregnancy test, you will have to wait for a late period. That means if you don’t get your period on the expected date, you can start testing. If in doubt, wait until the next day or, better still, a few days, especially if your menstrual cycle is irregular.

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Are home pregnancy tests reliable?

While they may have been used in ancient or medieval times, there is currently no scientific evidence that home pregnancy tests are reliable or effective. Carole Maître, gynecologist, confirms: “There are no scientific studies. Especially since these techniques are not reliable, especially those for examining the appearance of urine. For example, if you have diabetes, the urine will be altered. Similarly, when you eat a high-protein diet, urine foams. So what is a source of error.. Your period is late and you think you might be pregnant? The most reliable solution is to buy a pregnancy test at a pharmacy or supermarket. This advice is also recommended by many Internet users on the Doctissimo forum when it comes to home pregnancy tests. Especially since we can find pregnancy tests in supermarkets at an unrivaled price of one euro! “To avoid false positives or false negatives and to be sure of a possible pregnancy quickly, buy a urine pregnancy test. If your pregnancy test is positiveit is to be completed with a blood test in the laboratory to confirm the pregnancy (or not)concludes the gynecologist.


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