Proponents of the sugar pregnancy test say that sugar grains clump when they come into contact with urine from a pregnant person. However, there is no credible evidence to support this claim, and no medical bodies or organizations recommend this pregnancy test.
For centuries, people have sought a method to detect early pregnancy. The home pregnancy test has only been around for a few decades. Prior to its invention, people used many different folk remedies to test for pregnancy.
Some natural and alternative health sites still suggest using the sugar pregnancy test, but there is no evidence that it works.
Advice for taking the sugar pregnancy test is almost exclusively the domain of message boards and fringe health blogs. These sites advise mixing urine with sugar, though the recommended quantity of urine varies from a few drops to a tablespoon or more. Most sites suggest using white or table sugar.
Users should then wait a few minutes. If either the sugar and the urine mix or nothing happens, the result is supposedly negative. If the sugar clumps, the test is positive.
Early pregnancy tests — including the type that a person takes at home and the blood and urine tests that doctors and midwives use — test for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
The body makes hCG early in pregnancy, and it produces progressively higher quantities of this hormone as the pregnancy develops. As a result, most hCG tests can detect pregnancy within a few days of a missed period. Sometimes, they can work a little earlier. Rising hCG levels are one sign that a pregnancy is developing normally.
People who suggest using the sugar pregnancy test argue that it can also test for hCG. They say that the sugar reacts with hCG in the urine, causing it to clump.
However, the lack of specificity in the instructions points to the unreliability of this test. Factors that may better explain why the sugar sometimes clumps include the amount of urine and type of sugar that a person uses and the specific conditions in the home, such as humidity.
There is no evidence that the sugar pregnancy test is accurate. No recent scientific study has tested this method, and many anecdotes on message boards do not support its use.
Some people who use this test claim that it offers earlier results than home pregnancy tests. That claim is even more dubious. As there is no evidence that sugar can detect hCG, there is nothing to suggest that it can detect hCG before a home pregnancy test.
Before the advent of the modern pregnancy test, folk practitioners relied on many different remedies. One popular test used barley or wheat seeds. A person urinated on the seeds, and if they sprouted more quickly than normal, the test was positive. A 1963 study found that this method is more reliable than chance would suggest, as there was a weak relationship between seed growth and watering with the urine of a pregnant person.
There is no evidence that the sugar pregnancy test offers even this level of reliability. Moreover, it does not make most lists of old folk remedies for testing pregnancy. This fact suggests that even when people were more willing to try alternative methods, testing with sugar was not a popular option.
Advocates of the sugar pregnancy test say that a positive result causes the sugar to clump together. A person may see the sugar clump into one large group or form several smaller clumps.
There is no evidence that this actually indicates a positive test, as there is no reason to believe that hCG reacts to sugar in this way. Home pregnancy tests use a variety of chemicals to react with hCG in urine. These tests took years to develop and remain imperfect.
It seems impossible that scientists have, for generations, overlooked a simple reaction between hCG and sugar.
With a sugar pregnancy test, any result that does not produce clumps counts as a negative. If the sugar mixes with or dissolves in the urine, the test is negative. The test is also negative if the sugar separates or maintains roughly the same consistency.
Waiting for a pregnancy test result can be very stressful. Sugar pregnancy tests only add to the stress by giving unreliable and unclear results. People who think that they may be pregnant should try a sensitive home pregnancy test.
If a person feels worried about friends or family seeing them with a test, they can purchase one online. Many online retailers offer strip home pregnancy tests at a very low cost per test. If a person cannot afford these tests or has concerns about privacy, a free health clinic may be a viable option.
A doctor or midwife can help a person review their options for pregnancy tests. These medical professionals must keep testing confidential in the majority of cases. People who think that they may be pregnant should seek expert care rather than using unreliable tests for which there is no evidence.