It’s pretty wild that this technology can be widely distributed in magazine form.
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It may be hard to imagine, especially for us millenials who are used to the idea that anyone, anywhere can know within 90 seconds if they are pregnant or not thanks to the infamous little blue lines of a home pregnancy test, but home pregnancy tests haven’t always been so readily available.
Actually, testing urine to see if a woman is pregnant or not is a relatively new technology.
Before the 1920s, predicting pregnancy was hard. Hormones hadn’t yet been discovered, so scientists couldn’t pinpoint hCG, the hormone that predicts pregnancy. But that doesn’t mean people didn’t try for themselves. In ancient Egypt women tried to predict pregnancy by peeing on wheat and barley seeds. If the seeds grew, the woman was said to be pregnant. While that test may seem silly, it has been proven to be 70% accurate! Scientists think maybe this is because elevated levels of estrogen in women’s urine could help promote the seeds’ growth. (Aka women are amazing and we can literally make seeds grow from our waste.)
The technology to test a woman’s urine to see if she is pregnant or not has only been around since the 1920s.
In 1927, scientists developed a way to (you’re reading this correctly, don’t worry) inject a woman’s urine into a mouse, rat, rabbit, or frog to see if she was pregnant. If the animal went into heat, that meant the urine contained the hCG hormone that predicts pregnancy. They had to dissect the animal to see if it was in heat, so this meant every time a women got a pregnancy test, some cute little animal in a lab somewhere kicked the bucket.
It wasn’t until the 1960s when they ditched the animals and started being able to determine if the hCG was present with an immunoassay test done in a lab.
Rats surely rejoiced when scientists started chemically testing for pregnancy without the use of animal subjects.
From the 1920s to the 1970s, women had to go to a doctor to get a pregnancy test done.
The woman would have to get her urine tested and then the doctor would come back with the results. You know, just the normal news every woman can’t wait to hear, “Congratulations, your pee made a rabbit go into heat!”