Whether you want it or not, after every unprotected sex you have, the question about potential pregnancy pops up. If the period is late, you enter into panic mode. As a result, a pregnancy test is taken.
It was as useful for women in antiquity to know whether they were pregnant or not as it is today.
The first pregnancy test was invented in ancient Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The descriptions of the Egyptian pregnancy test were found in the Carlsberg Papyrus Collection dated 1350 BCE.
From a modern perspective, the Egyptian pregnancy test was super weird.
The test required a woman to pee daily on barley and wheat seeds. If the barley grew, it would be a boy; the wheat, a girl; if neither plant sprouted, the woman was not pregnant.
The pregnancy test involving barley and wheat seeds didn’t disappear with the collapse of ancient Egypt. The test reappeared in the Greek and Roman medical texts and was used also in Medieval Europe.
The version of the Egyptian pregnancy test was described in the oldest manual for midwives, The Birth of Mankind from 1540. We can find the same test in Christian Franz Paullini’s Dreck-Apotheke, a textbook from 1714 on using human excrement to treat various diseases.
The pregnancy test used by the ancient Egyptians was part of German folklore medicine in the 17th century.
Despite its strangeness, the test was surprisingly accurate.
Modern science confirmed peeing on barley or wheat correctly determines pregnancy in seventy percent of cases.
In seventy percent of cases, the urine of pregnant women encouraged sprouting of barley and wheat seeds. No growth occurred with urine from non-pregnant women or urine from men.
However, the scientists also discovered that if seeds don’t sprout, this doesn’t necessarily mean the woman is not pregnant. Additionally, the gender of the baby can’t be confirmed by whether only barley or only wheat sprouts.
Scientists believe elevated levels of estrogen in the urine of pregnant women encourage the sprouting of barley and wheat seeds.
Peeing on the seeds of wheat and barley was not the only ancient Egyptian pregnancy test.
The ancient Egyptian women could choose among a big variety of pregnancy tests.
Each of the below-listed pregnancy tests has some scientific explanation that proves how extremely accurate observers of nature were the ancient Egyptians.
A woman had to place an onion deep in her vagina before going to bed. If in the morning, her breath smelled of the onion, she was pregnant.
Modern science proved that during pregnancy, there is an increased blood flow through blood vessels in the vagina, which results in a quicker absorption of the onion’s sulfuric compounds causing “onion breath.”
In the evening, the doctor would anoint a woman’s nipples, arms, and shoulders with oil or grease. In the morning, if her breasts were of greenish color, this was proof of pregnancy.
Today, we know that during pregnancy, veins on the breasts became dilated because of increased estrogen levels.
Human milk and watermelon test
A woman had to drink a mixture of watermelon and human milk. If she vomited, she was pregnant.
They based this test on the tendency of women to feel nausea and vomit in the early stages of pregnancy. Thus, the woman’s body avoids the consumption of any substance which could disturb the development of a baby or cause abortion.
The preciseness of the Egyptian pregnancy test based on barley and wheat seeds was remarkably high. Especially if we consider the ancient Egyptians invented the test over 3,000 years ago.
The only downside was that you had to wait for a week to find out the results. At the end of the day, it was still faster than waiting for nine months.