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a hand is holding a pregnancy test

Are Homemade Pregnancy Tests Reliable? (According To Science)

Missed your period?  If you might be pregnant and weren't quite expecting it, you may not be thoroughly inclined to run to the drugstore for a test.  Whatever the reasons, homemade pregnancy tests are still often frequently searched for over the internet.  Pregnancy tests without a kit aren't exactly sanctioned by doctors, but many suggestions exist.

In the United States alone, almost 7 million pregnancy cases were reported in 2008.1 However, 51% of the total pregnancies in the U.S. were reported to be unintended resulting to miscarriages and abortions, which was commonly observed in females in poverty and low educational background.2 So, it is necessary to know if you are pregnant as early as possible to prevent these problems.

So, how will you know if you are already bearing the child you’ve been waiting for?

Some people consider signs and symptoms as an early detector of pregnancy. You may notice signs such as vomiting, nausea and food preferences at the first trimester but they may not be reliable for these may be due to other illnesses.3 Having your blood tested is the best test due to its sensitivity to pregnancy hormones called hCG but it is a bit expensive and not readily available.

a woman is looking at the sky during a sunset

In these times, over-the-counter pregnancy test kits are your best friends! They are relatively cheap and available in nearby drugstores. But you must be cautious in using commercial pregnancy test kits for it needs to be done under specific conditions to be as accurate and as sensitive as claimed by their manufacturers.4 Or else, you may see false positive or false negative results and this may break your heart.5

Women, especially those on a tight budget, want to know if they are pregnant or not without spending too much. Here comes the practicality of homemade pregnancy tests that are famous online! Did you know that you could know your pregnancy status using bleach or even toothpaste? This may sound absurd but these tests are gaining popularity nowadays.

So, before you try these we need to know the reliability and accuracy of these tests as well as the science behind it. We will be a bit sciencey and discuss seven of the commonly used homemade pregnancy tests.

Test #1 Use of Bleach

Since bleach is a cheap and common household supply. So, it is very appealing for Moms or expecting Moms as an alternative pregnancy test. You probably have it at home!

Unlike the common pregnancy test kit, there is no standard method in bleach pregnancy test. So, it is very easy to follow and understand. You just have to place your urine into a small container. Then, add bleach powder until you think it is enough. Mix well but not with your hands! If you have observed foam or fizz, you are pregnant!

Are the foams a real sign of your pregnancy? Possibly! The fizz or bubbles observed on your test are caused by the reaction of the bleach to your pregnancy hormones. The reaction allows the release of gases, which results to bubble formation.6 Isn’t that cool?

So, is bleach reliable? YES!.Go ahead and try it!

Test #2 Use of Vinegar

For this test, you will not cook food with vinegar but you will use it to know if you are going to be a Mom! This process may be a bit smelly. So, be sure to do it in a well-ventilated place and avoid spills.

Place your urine sample and vinegar in a clean, small container and mix it afterwards. Similar to the bleach tests, bubbles may appear while mixing but these are not the sign you are waiting for. Let your vinegar-pee mixture stand for a few minutes. Are you excited to know if it’s positive?

If you observe a change in color of your vinegar-pee sample, Congratulations! The test shows that you are going to be a Mom in no time! But, based on science, this test is not reliable. The change in color you have observed, which is usually lighter in color, is most probably because the vinegar dilutes the urine.

In the mechanism of a pregnancy test, the change in color is not possible without the presence of colored substances that may react with the pee.7

So, is vinegar reliable? NO!

a bottle of glass filled with vinegar

Test #3 Use of Baking Soda

 Baking soda may be common ingredient to our favorite pastries or a friendly cleaning agent. Maybe some of you use it as facial mask and teeth whitener. But have you ever heard of baking soda used for pregnancy test?

I know it may sound crazy but baking soda test is one of the famous homemade pregnancy tests online! To do this pregnancy test, you need to place two tablespoons of baking soda in a container from which you will add your urine. It is positive if you observed fizz or bubbles (Do not shake or mix it!).

This method is easy to do and interpret but the outcome is highly unreliable. Since your urine is slightly acidic, like the usual human urine, the basic baking soda will react with each other producing some gases. Remember the acid-base reaction your science teacher told you before? That is the science behind the appearance of fizz or bubbles in this test.8,9

So, is the baking soda test reliable? NO!

Test #4 Use of Salt

 The tests above might made you a bit salty due to their unreliability. Well, you need that salt now for a salt pregnancy test exists! The availability and cheap cost of salt makes it ideal for your homemade pregnancy test.

 Upon doing this homemade pregnancy test, you need to place an estimated amount of salt in a bowl where you will place your morning urine. You do not need to mix this one. You just have to be patient and wait for at least 3 minutes to see the result. If you have observed clumps, rejoice for you are a Mom-to-be!

This maybe an easy and cheap method but the sign of a positive result is quite undependable. The combined salts from your urine (Yes, you are salty too.) and the salt crystals just result to a higher salt concentration in your mixture. To put things on a scientific note, since there is already too much salts, some of the table salt you’ve placed on your urine will not be dissolved.10 That’s why you may have observed more salt clumps if you have placed more salt. The number of clumps that you will see will also increase through time.

As salty as it sounds, the use of salt is NOT RELIABLE!

 sugar and blood test for pregnancy

Test #5 Use of Dishwashing Liquid

If you think you have exhausted all possible house supplies to test your pregnancy status, you are wrong! Dish soaps, which are used not only at home but also in the food service and cleaning industry, may also be used in conducting your own pregnancy test at home.

To perform this test, you need some dishwashing liquid, water, morning urine and a small container. Mix first the dish soap and water until foam appears. Then, add some dish soap solution to your urine, without mixing it, at a ratio of 1:3 (1 ml of soap to 3 ml of urine). If you have observed that there is a change in the color of your soap-pee mixture or the presence of bubbles, it’s positive! A baby is on its way!

Compared to the tests mentioned earlier, this one has a more specific method. Some sources online, even claims that dish soap tests are accurate and reliable for pregnancy testing. However, the positive results in this test are both vague and questionable. The change in the color of your urine with dish soap is due to the differences in color of the dishwashing liquid and urine. There is also a possibility that the change in color you have observed is due to the breakdown of compounds responsible for the color of your urine, which occurs if your urine is exposed for some time.11 The bubbles formed may be due to slight swirling or movement from combining the dishwashing liquid and the urine.

Instead of using your dish soap for your pregnancy test, just save it for future home use because this test is NOT RELIABLE!

 Test #6 Use of Shampoo

 three shampoos

Who would have thought that the shampoo you use for keeping your hair clean, smooth and fragrant everyday may be used for pregnancy diagnosis? Actually, the use of shampoo is considered friendly and economical by several online websites.

This method also lacks a standard procedure but it is very easy to follow and understand. In this shampoo pregnancy test, you need to place a small amount of your shampoo in a small bowl. Add in water and mix it thoroughly. Then, place some of your urine into the mixture. Observe if there would be changes in the appearance of your urine mixture such as foams or bubbles. You have observed these? If yes, it’s positive!

Similar to the dishwashing liquid test done earlier, this test is quite unreliable. Even small movements may form bubbles in your urine-shampoo solution.

Shampoo pregnancy test is NOT RELIABLE. Also, do not forget to dispose this afterwards or else you might use it as your substitute shampoo. Yikes!

Test #7 Use of Toothpaste

 This is probably the strangest of all the homemade tests you will ever encounter! Imagine using your toothpaste to know if you’re pregnant! It is weird but many argue that this toothpaste pregnancy test is reliable. So, why not give it a try?

In this test, you need to use white toothpaste to easily see the changes. Place two tablespoons of your toothpaste on a clean container. Then, slowly add a small amount of your urine. Wait and observe for the possible changes in the appearance. The result is considered positive if there are foams or frizz present. You got positive?

Toothpaste test is an odd yet cheap way for pregnancy test but the reliability of this test is questionable. It is possible that the fizzes formed are due to the acid-base reaction of your urine and toothpaste. Getting a little science, right? Recall that human urine is slightly acidic while your toothpaste contains calcium carbonate, a basic compound. 8,9 So, the bubbles from this mixture is not due to the pregnancy hormones in your urine, which should be the determinant of pregnancy in almost all pregnancy diagnostic tests worldwide.

So, should you use this test? No, it is NOT RELIABLE.

toothpaste is put on toothbrush and a glass of water is nearby

Conclusion

Your urine could give a lot of information about you such as your DNA, health status and state of pregnancy. But like other compounds, it changes after it is released from the human body. Your urine becomes more alkaline and its color changes due to the breakdown of several compounds. So, the change in the physical characteristics of your urine may not be a reliable basis to know if you are pregnant. The lack of a standard set of procedure for these tests makes it problematic, which may increase the error. Other factors such as your urine sample, environmental conditions, and duration of tests should also be considered..

You may use these homemade tests considering its availability and cheap costs but you need a confirmatory test using approved pregnancy test kits or the like. You must remember that the things you hear or see from the Internet must be examined first especially when it comes to your health, and safety. To prevent unwanted consequences from the wrong diagnosis of these homemade pregnancy tests, you must be cautious. It is always best to ask for professional help and advice

Pregnancy is a very exciting yet delicate period in a woman’s life. So, you must do all the necessary precautions to provide yourself and your baby all the care and love you both deserve. Every step in your pregnancy is as important as after birth for this will create a huge impact on your baby’s growth and development.

Are homemade pregnancy tests2

Are homemade pregnancy tests reliable_2

References:

 

[1] Estimated pregnancy rates and rates of pregnancy outcomes for the United States, 1990-2008

http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/22970648#fragment-abstract

[2] Shifts in Intended and Unintended Pregnancies in the United States, 2001–2008

https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301416

[3] Nine Months and a Day: A Pregnancy and Birth Companion

https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=jFq8dUBI4ZUC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0

[4] Accuracy of home pregnancy tests at the time of missed menses

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2003.08.043

[5] Comparison of analytical sensitivity and women’s interpretation of home pregnancy tests

https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cclm.2015.53.issue-3/cclm-2014-0643/cclm-2014-0643.xml

[6] Determination of HCG glucose and galactose in body fluids with chromogenic indicators

https://patents.google.com/patent/US3868219A/en

[7] Chemical reagent indicator for the in vitro diagnosis of pregnancy

https://patents.google.com/patent/US4433057A/en

[8] General acid-base catalysis of complex reactions in water

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/cr60280a004

[9] Acid–base reaction

https://www.britannica.com/science/acid-base-reaction

[10] Protein and humic acid adsorption onto hydrophilic membrane surfaces: effects of pH and ionic strength

https://doi.org/10.1016/S0376-7388(99)00218-5

[11] Urine analysis – Changes When Urine Left at Room Temperature

http://www.labpedia.net/test/389

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