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9 very strange methods that our ancestors used to diagnose pregnancy

Today, it is not difficult to determine whether a woman is pregnant or not. Just go to the pharmacy, buy a test strip and spend just a few minutes of time. These tools were widely available back in 1978, but then it took 2 hours to get the result, and the reliability of tests was only 20%. And the ancients with the definition of pregnancy, everything was much more complicated. What are the means resorted to by our ancestors we will tell you in our review.
Before the invention of these wonderful tests, women used very strange methods to determine pregnancy.

1. Wheat-barley testOne of the first, if not the very first, pregnancy tests appeared in Ancient Egypt. In 1350 BC, women were recommended to urinate on wheat and barley grains for several days. If the wheat sprouted, it meant that the woman should wait for a girl, and if the barley sprouted, it meant a boy. If nothing sprouted, the woman was not pregnant.

Most interestingly, this test actually worked: in 1963, scientists conducted an experiment and found that in 70 percent of cases, the urine of pregnant women can cause seeds to germinate, and the urine of non-pregnant women or men did not lead to this effect.

2. The onion test

While the ancient Egyptians checked whether a woman was pregnant with wheat and barley, the ancient Greeks used for this purpose… onion. Hippocrates, who is now considered the founder of medicine, proposed the following test: a woman who wanted to be tested for pregnancy had to insert an onion or other strongly smelling vegetable into her vagina at night. If her breath smelled like onions the next morning, she wasn’t pregnant. This was based on the idea that if a woman’s uterus was open, the smell of onions would enter her mouth like a wind tunnel.

3. Beer test

In ancient Egyptian papyri read another strange way to determine pregnancy. It was necessary to pour a lot of beer and fermented wort on the floor in an enclosed room, and then sit a woman in this puddle. No wonder the smell in the room made her feel sick. And by the abundance of vomit and determined whether she was pregnant.

4. Test latch

In a medical treatise of the late 15th century, it was said: “If you want to know if a woman is pregnant, you need to ask her to urinate in the basin, and then put a latch or key in this basin for three or four hours. After that, you need to drain the urine, remove the latch and see if it left an imprint on the bottom of the pelvis. If so, the woman is pregnant.”

5. The prophets of urine

In the 16th century, European “urine prophets” claimed that they could determine whether a woman was pregnant by the color and other characteristics of her urine. Some also mixed urine with wine and observed the result (interestingly, alcohol can actually react to proteins present in a pregnant woman’s urine). Also, these “prophets” determined by the urine not only pregnancy, but also the diseases that their patient suffered from.

6. The woman’s eyes

Doctor Jacques Gullemo, who lived in the 16th century, claimed that you can judge a woman’s pregnancy just by looking into her eyes. Golemo, author of the famous treatise on ophthalmology, said that in the beginning of the second month “the eyes of a pregnant woman deep-set, eyes small, eyelids proudeni, and in the corners of the eyes are swollen vein”. This is probably not true, but the doctor was right about one thing: during pregnancy, a woman’s vision can actually change.

7. Chadwick’s Sign

Even at the very beginning of pregnancy (at a period of about six to eight weeks), the cervix, vagina and labia may acquire a dark bluish or purple-red hue due to increased blood flow to this area. This sign of pregnancy, along with other traditional signs, such as a craving for salt, was first noticed in 1836 by the French obstetrician James Chadwick (it received the same name-“Chadwick’s sign”). But given the prudery of doctors at the time, such signs of pregnancy were almost never checked.

8. Rabbit test

In addition to observation tests, such as the Chadwick sign, there was a very unpleasant method of pregnancy testing up until the 20th century, which ended tragically for rabbits, mice, and rats. In the 1920s, two German scientists, Selmar Aschheim and Bernhard Zondek, found a certain hormone in the urine of pregnant women that is associated with ovarian growth (today this hormone is known as chorionic gonadotropin). A pregnant woman’s urine injection was given to immature rabbits, rats, or mice to encourage their ovaries to develop. On the fifth day after the injection, the animal was killed and opened to see the result.

9. Frog test

Although this method worked on the same principle as the rabbit test, it was more humane because the animal remained alive. In the late 1940s, scientists found that if you enter the urine of a pregnant woman to a live toad or frog, then within 24 hours it will begin to throw eggs.


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