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No pregnancy test is 100% reliable, unless it has been conducted by a doctor or trained medical practitioner. However, who likes rushing to the hospital every time one misses a period. It's not practical and may even be embarrassing to some extent. Over-the-counter home pregnancy tests are very convenient, and since their accuracy is claimed to be around 99%, they are good alternatives. Women often go and get a blood test done once the home pregnancy test confirms it!

But, what about homemade pregnancy tests, which according to some is a more convenient method of confirming a pregnancy? For privacy reasons, teenagers or even adults (financial reasons, secrecy, etc.) may not wish to be seen purchasing a pregnancy test from the chemist.

They prefer to keep things in the bag, until the whole pregnancy dilemma is clearer. In such cases they look for more natural options, such as homemade pregnancy tests. Which are these homemade tests and how reliable are they?

Homemade Pregnancy Test Kits

The practice of using natural substances to test for pregnancies has been prevalent since ancient times. Some of the earliest pregnancy tests used to detect pregnancies sound weird and even atrocious (rabbit test). The rabbit test involved injecting urine sample into the rabbit. If the woman is pregnant, the hCG hormone in the urine would cause the rabbit to ovulate, thereby, causing its ovary to enlarge. To check if the enlargement has taken place, they would cut open the rabbit. Sounds really inhumane! Thank goodness, we don't encounter such weird pregnancy tests these days. Here are some simple homemade tests that you can carry out at home.

Dandelion Leaves

Pluck some dandelion leaves and place it in a container you don't mind throwing away. Make sure the plucked leaves are not exposed to sunlight. Urinate into another container, and pour the urine on the dandelion leaves. The leaves should be submerged in urine. If one is pregnant, the leaves will develop some kind of discoloration or blisters. Some even say if the liquid becomes frothy, it's an indicator of positive pregnancy.

Problems Associated
The time taken for this result may vary from 10 minutes to even an hour. This is not only time-consuming, but also nerve-racking.

What about situations wherein no discoloration occurs, but froth appears. Is one pregnant or not?

Pine-Sol

Commonly used as a cleaning product and a lubricant, Pine-Sol can also be used for a pregnancy test. Pour some Pine-Sol in a container filled with freshly urinated urine. If the color of the urine changes, the pregnancy is positive.

Problems Associated
The waiting time is not specified.

Whether the pregnancy is positive for slight discolorations is not clearly specified.

Toothpaste

A mixture of toothpaste and urine is used to detect a pregnancy. If on mixing a small amount of urine with a small amount of plain toothpaste, froth or bluish coloration appears, then one is said to be pregnant.

Problems Associated
The proportion of urine and toothpaste is not specified.

The time limit within which froth should appear is not specified.

Often if you leave the urine and toothpaste mixture for sometime, it turns frothy anyway. This can result in confusion.

There also exists the bleach test, however, it is not safe to carry out this test, because when urine get mixed with bleach, harmful gases are released which may prove to be deleterious to both mother and growing fetus.

Are Homemade Pregnancy Tests Reliable?

The problem with homemade pregnancy tests is the absence of clear direction. With a regular home pregnancy test that's available at the chemist, the instructions are clear. Pouring two or three drops of urine on the stick (at the specified site) will result in formation of two lines if the pregnancy is positive and presence of only one line will indicate absence of pregnancy. If the second line is faint, this is an indicator that the pregnancy test may not be sensitive enough, or it may occur because the test has been taken too early. Some pregnancy tests show '+' or '-', while the digital tests show 'pregnant' or 'not pregnant'.

However, in a homemade pregnancy test there are no instructions about how much urine or bleach/Pine-Sol/dandelion leaves one is to take. Even simple reactions conducted in the chemistry lab, have certain amounts specified for attaining specific results. With no clarity regarding the amounts, one can be pregnant and still get a negative test, or even vice versa. Further, with respect to the results, there exists a lot of ambiguity. Discoloration is said to take place, however, what if slight discoloration take place? What does it mean? Moreover, if bubbles are formed in the bleach test, what if only a few bubbles are formed? Does it still mean one is pregnant?

The problem with homemade pregnancy tests is that there are too many ifs and buts, let alone the lack of scientific explanations. It's very likely even after carrying out the homemade pregnancy test, you will be confused about the results. When we're dealing with a pregnancy test, we must remember pregnancy is not a joke. A positive pregnancy test can change lives completely. For those who've been trying for so long, it's a dream come true! For those who are in their teens, or not yet ready to start a family, it can come down as a shock.

How Pregnancy Tests Work?

What's the basis of any pregnancy test? What's in the urine that confirms you are pregnant or not. Well, a pregnancy test basically detects a specific hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is released by the developing placenta shortly after a woman conceives. The production of the hormone quickly increases in the body after every 24 hours, and can be noticed in her circulatory system and urine soon after she becomes pregnant. Traces of this hormone are present in the urine of a pregnant woman, which pregnancy tests aim to detect.

But the date of implantation, i.e. when the pregnancy begins, is not similar to the date of conception. Conception usually occurs within 24 hours of ovulation, while the implantation takes place six or more days after conception. When the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining of the womb, the hCG hormone is released by the placenta (tissue surrounding the growing baby), which takes place approximately a week after ovulation.

The hCG levels in early pregnancy are evaluated in Milli-International Units (mIU) or amounts equal to 1/1000th of an IU per milliliter. If a woman conceives, the concentration of hCG hormone in the body should be somewhere around 25 mIU at 10 dpo (days past ovulation), 50 mIU at 12 dpo, and 100 mIU at 15 dpo. However, for earliest detection of pregnancy, the test should be conducted eight days after conception, when the hormone concentration is somewhere between 5 to 10 mIU.

There's always a shadow of doubt after conducting a homemade pregnancy test. It's better to get an over-the-counter home pregnancy test from the chemist, or even better get a blood test taken at the hospital. In case of pregnancy, it's important not to leave any stones unturned. Use more reliable methods to confirm a pregnancy.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.