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Some women have tried using toothpaste to tell whether they are pregnant. However, the toothpaste pregnancy test does not work.
Anyone who thinks that they may be pregnant — because of a missed or irregular period, for example — should use standard tests or visit a doctor.
People can find these standard pregnancy tests at pharmacies and some grocery or convenience stores. They check for levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in a woman’s urine.
Also, doctors can perform blood tests, and these give the most specific, accurate results.
This article will describe why the toothpaste pregnancy test does not work and explore other options.
The toothpaste pregnancy test involves putting a few drops of urine on some white toothpaste.
After stirring the mixture, the person watches for any foaming or color change, which supposedly indicates a positive result.
However, this is not an accurate way to detect pregnancy.
If a woman has tried this method and believes that the result is positive, she should take a standard pregnancy test or visit a doctor.
What is the theory behind it?
People who use the toothpaste pregnancy test believe that the ingredients in toothpaste react with pregnancy hormones in urine.
The reaction is then supposed to cause the toothpaste to change color or foam. However, this reaction may occur because of the acidity of urine.
Urine is typically acidic, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Different kinds of toothpaste have different levels of acidity.
In a 2011 study, researchers tested the acidity of seven whitening toothpastes. The results showed that they ranged from very acidic to very basic.
The results of the toothpaste pregnancy test may stem from the pH levels of the urine and toothpaste involved.
The toothpaste pregnancy test is entirely inaccurate. It cannot detect pregnancy.
Standard home pregnancy tests check for a specific hormone released by the placenta of a pregnant woman. This hormone is called hCG.
The cells of the placenta produce hCG, as may other parts of the body, including the:
- pituitary gland
- certain tumors
Toothpaste is unable to detect hCG. No research indicates that this test is effective.
The toothpaste pregnancy test does not work, but there are effective alternatives.
A person can usually find over-the-counter pregnancy tests at local pharmacies, grocery stores, and some convenience and dollar stores.
They can be inexpensive, and some health clinics provide them for free.
Alternately, a healthcare provider at a doctor’s office or community clinic can check for pregnancy.
Most often, clinics use urine tests that are similar to those available over the counter. Other times, a doctor uses a blood sample or an ultrasound.
Home pregnancy tests
Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are often convenient, affordable, and comfortable. Results usually appear within 10 minutes.
Like the blood test that a doctor may use, these urine tests check for antibodies that bind to hCG. After conception, the amount of hCG in a pregnant woman’s urine increases gradually.
A woman should wait roughly 1 week after missing a period before taking a home test. This will give the hCG level time to rise, if she is pregnant, and ensure that the reading is as accurate as possible.
The following factors can affect the accuracy of over-the-counter pregnancy tests:
- the timing of the test
- blood or proteins present in the urine
- diluted urine samples
A blood test can detect pregnancy — typically 6–8 days after ovulation.
HCG has two parts: an alpha subunit and a beta subunit. Blood pregnancy tests detect the broken down fragments of the beta subunit.
Doctors can use two blood tests to check for pregnancy:
- Qualitative hCG blood test: This detects whether the pregnancy hormone is present.
- Quantitative hCG blood test: This detects how much hCG is present.
Anyone who suspects that they are pregnant should see a doctor.
In women who wish to remain pregnant, early prenatal care is key to preventing complications.
Symptoms that can suggest pregnancy include:
- abdominal pain
- vaginal bleeding
- irregular menstruation
- tender breasts
A doctor may use a standard urine or blood test to check for pregnancy. They may also order an ultrasound.
Family doctors, midwives, and obstetricians can provide prenatal care.
The toothpaste pregnancy test is not accurate — it cannot detect pregnancy.
Doctors do not recommend the use of DIY pregnancy tests such as the toothpaste test.
Anyone who thinks that they may be pregnant should use a standard, over-the-counter pregnancy test or see a doctor.
Home pregnancy tests measure the amount of pregnancy hormone in the body. They are available in pharmacies and some grocery or convenience stores, without a prescription.
Some clinics offer free, confidential testing.