Weird Pregnancy Tests Throughout History

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Historically, we women have used some pretty bizarre methods to detect whether or not we have a bun in the oven. Long before the days of peeing on a stick, weird pregnancy tests used some of the same concepts.

Some of my personal “pregnancy test” symptoms include being starving but too nauseous to eat, feeling even more tired than normal, and having breast tenderness. What are some of your symptoms that clue you in?

I made a little video primer of some of the oddest pregnancy tests throughout history. Check it out below!

Weird Pregnancy Tests Explained via Video

The Bizarre Onion Waft Pregnancy Test

In Ancient Greece, there was a sketchy theory about the womb being like a tunnel from a woman’s privates up to her mouth. Hippocrates himself, the “Father of Medicine”, said so. So women were instructed to insert an onion into their whoha (I’m assuming it would be peeled for this to work?) overnight. In the morning, if her breath smelled like onion, it meant that the womb was still “open” and therefore, she was not pregnant. I’m pretty sure that this method would also ward off any sexual advances so she’d now be unlikely to become pregnant. I’m also assuming the onion was now unusable!

The Infamous Rabbit Test for Pregnancy

This is probably the most well-known of the weird pregnancy tests. In the 1920’s, scientists found that injection a woman’s urine into a rabbit could predict whether or not the woman was pregnant. Common belief is that if the rabbit died, the woman was pregnant. But it was a bit more complicated than that. (Hello, science!) In fact, ALL the rabbits died because the animals’ ovaries had to be examined. If there were bulging masses on the rabbit’s egg makers, than the woman was preggo. But every rabbit had to be killed in order to check out the ovaries. I’m pretty sure the ASPCA would take issue with this method today.

“Piss Prophets” Were Human Pregnancy Testers

In the 17th Century, at the same time leeches were used to treat many maladies, doctors known as “piss prophets” would inspect urine to help diagnose sickness and to detect pregnancy. While their name sounds gross, it’s not such a crazy idea, since we all know that urine testing is one of our best modern methods of testing for pregnancy. What IS crazy, is that the piss prophets also claimed that they could tell one’s fortune from their pee.

Weird Pregnancy Test Like an Egyptian

In ancient Egypt, women used the “wheat and barley” test for pregnancy. They took a bag of each grain and peed on each. If either sprouted, they were pregnant. Barley meant a boy and wheat meant a girl. Apparently, this test is actually pretty accurate. The elevated estrogen in a pregnant woman’s urine can cause seeds to sprout! Of course, I’m assuming there were no famines going on at the time. Otherwise, why ruin perfectly good food?

A Great Waste of Wine

In Medieval times, women could test for pregnancy by mixing their urine with wine. It seems the hormones in an expecting mama’s urine can change the color of wine. But WHY WASTE WINE??

Weird Pregnancy Tests Throughout History

Jen

2 comments

  • This is crazy, I had no idea that some of these were used! The rabbits being injected with urine and potentially dying is so sad. Crazy how things have changed!

    Reply
  • lol, the onion test was hilarious. While I was reading the one with the wine and urine I was thinking, they didn’t drink that, did they? lol Funny post, thanks I needed the laugh this morning after being on the phone with my hosting company.

    Reply

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