13 Extremely Strange Pregnancy Test Methods From History

In the olden days, there were weird notions and beliefs about pregnancy that informed women of the changes that were to come during the next nine months. What was weirder still was the methods that people used to tell if a woman was pregnant. While there are strange ways to predict the sex of the baby, stranger still are the bizarre ways that people used to test pregnancy. 

Medical knowledge in the 21st century allows people to determine the presence of particular hormones in a female's urine to find out if she is pregnant. Such methods were unavailable in the past, meaning that cultures utilized different techniques to detect whether a woman was with child or not. This list is a compilation of the incredibly strange pregnancy tests used in older times, to various degrees of success. 


  • Ancient Egyptians Used Garlic Placed Near The Cervix

    According to historical sources, in both Egypt and Greece, a common way of detecting whether a woman was pregnant was to use either garlic or onions. The woman would go to sleep in her bed as normal with food placed near or even into the vagina. In the morning, they would then be tested to see if the smell from the garlic had moved through her body onto her breath. If not, this would mean she was pregnant as the baby was blocking the aroma from traveling through the body by clogging the womb.

  • Examining The Color Of A Women’s Private Parts

    Discovered around 1836 by French doctor Étienne Joseph Jacquemin, Chadwick’s sign is a discoloration of the vagina and surrounding areas. The blue tinge to the private parts can be seen as early as eight weeks into a pregnancy and is a rather trustworthy indicator. The discoloration is the result of increased blood flow in the area. This method was brought to public attention by James Read Chadwick some 50 years later.

  • Injecting Urine Into Live African Frogs

    Up until the 1960s, the most effective way to test if someone was with child was to inject their urine into a South African frog. When South African scientists Lancelot Hogben discovered that he could control the ovulation of the amphibians using hormones, others figured out that it could be used as a reliable test. The urine is injected directly into the frog and if the hormone indicating pregnancy is present, the frog will begin to produce eggs within 24 hours. As it was so fast and dependable, the method was soon used through Europe and North America until cheaper chemical alternatives were invented. 

  • Dissecting Rats To Inspect Their Ovaries

    Prior to African Frog testing, the most well known pregnancy test was developed by two German scientists named Selmar Aschheim and Bernhard Zondek. They discovered that a hormone present in the urine of a pregnant woman would also affect the physiology of rats and other rodents. The pee would be directly injected into the creatures and after a few days, they would be killed and dissected so that their ovaries could be examined. Large masses and growths in the sexual organs meant that pregnancy was confirmed.