Can You Make Your Own At-Home Pregnancy Test?

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
If you've ever freaked out and thought you were pregnant, you've probably also Googled, "Am I pregnant?" and clicked around until something gave you peace of mind. Sure, you could just go to the drugstore and buy an OTC pregnancy test to get a more precise answer, but those can be expensive — which is why the internet is full of homemade pregnancy test ideas.
The question is: Do these DIY tests actually work? Unfortunately, probably not.
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Surf the internet hard enough, and you might come across the fabled "toothpaste pregnancy test." For this one, people claim you should squeeze white toothpaste into a glass cup or onto a ceramic plate, and then add drops of urine to the toothpaste. Stir the concoction, and then wait a few minutes, but don't let it sit too long. If it froths and turns a blueish color, then you're allegedly pregnant. And if nothing happens, then you are supposedly not pregnant, and will probably need to buy more toothpaste. What is this sorcery? The logic is that the chemicals in toothpaste will react with a pregnant person's urine, similar to how they would on a traditional stick pregnancy test.
The at-home tests don't just stop with toothpaste, and some people claim that you can do the same thing with bleach, sugar, or baking soda. There are several YouTube tutorials that demonstrate how to make your own pregnancy test, and they have millions of views. Many people believe this is a cost-effective way to tell whether you're pregnant, without buying or taking a pregnancy test.

While no test is perfect, as any test could result in a false positive or false negative, knowing sooner rather than later is so incredibly important.

Caitlin McAllister, MD
Appealing as these at-home tests may sound, is there any scientific proof that they work? "Nope, not at all," says Caitlin McAllister, MD, chief Ob/Gyn resident at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. "Regardless if the toothpaste foams or not, you still won't know if you're pregnant — this does, however, sound like a great way to ruin a perfectly good dish." That being said, it's kind of understandable why some people might think this works, because doctors use urine to test whether or not a person is pregnant. But it's not as simple as peeing on random household items and seeing what happens.
When you pee on an OTC pregnancy test, or have your urine tested at your Ob/Gyn's office, you're checking for the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, Dr. McAllister says. It's produced in your body when you're pregnant, and is first secreted into a pregnant person's blood, and then later on it can be detected in the urine, Dr. McAllister says. Most pregnancy tests have a symbol (two lines or a plus sign, for example) that indicates that you have hCG in your urine, and these tests are generally easy to read. They're also usually 99% accurate, according to extensive clinical research, and they're your best bet for determining whether or not you're pregnant.
Still tempted to go the DIY route? According to Dr. McAllister, it's just a bad idea to rely on these homemade, urine-swirling, color-changing tests. "While no test is perfect, as any test could result in a false positive or false negative, knowing sooner rather than later is so incredibly important," she says. And not to sound like a complete toothpaste truther, but Dr. McAllister says there's just no scientific evidence to support that homemade tests work.
If you are trying to save money, that's understandable, but if you think you might be pregnant, you still should talk to your Ob/Gyn about your symptoms, and see if they have further suggestions about what to do. "You could always get an ultrasound from your Ob/Gyn, however this is only helpful once you're about four-to-six weeks pregnant," Dr. McAllister says. Do what you'd like with your urine at home, but remember that "having an accurate answer is well worth the cost of a pregnancy test from the drug store or a visit to your doctor," Dr. McAllister says.
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