The First-Ever Flushable Pregnancy Test Is Here to Change the TTC Game
Ever since the 1970s when the first at-home pregnancy test hit shelves, the plastic stick has proven to be both a convenience and a bit of a headache for anyone who's TTC. While it's been helpful to be able to check your urine for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (the hormone that appears in high concentrations when you're pregnant) without a trip to the doctor's office, the frustrating nature of these tests is that you have no choice but to toss them in a wastebasket, which often proves less than discreet—or eco-friendly. Thankfully, a solution is now available: a biodegradable pregnancy test called Lia, which hit the market last week.
Here's what you need to know.
The Case for Updating At-Home Pregnancy Tests
It's been 30 years since the at-home pregnancy test got a major update, so the effort was overdue. But that doesn't mean the process was speedy. The product's creators Bethany Edwards and Anna Couturier told MindBodyGreen.com that it took them years to develop the product, get it approved by the FDA, and prove that it's biodegradable. But it was a labor of love that the pair were positive would help to empower women.
On Lia's website, Edwards and Couturier explain that they wanted to "create a better experience for women during one of the most emotional moments of their lives." And they aimed to both "modernize and humanize female reproductive health and wellness" in the process.
Why a Biodegradable Test Is Better for the Environment
The demand for a "disappearing," or biodegradable, pregnancy test, doesn't only stem from a desire to be more discreet. It's also better for the environment.
Published research has found that the United States produces more plastic packaging waste per capita than any other country. Not only is the production of plastic a threat to the environment and contributor to climate change, but landfills piled up with the substance add to the crisis as well. And according to Lia, 2 million pounds of plastic from pregnancy tests end up in U.S. landfills each year.
Given the many associated environmental hazards associated with plastic, experts recommend producing less plastic waste—and flushable, biodegradable pregnancy tests can help with that cause.
The company notes that in a study conducted by a third-party lab, Lia was found to biodegrade 100 percent in soil in 10 weeks, which is speedier than organic cotton, on par with many organic materials (such as banana peels), and more than 20 times faster than a cotton tampon (which takes, on average, 5 years).
How the Flushable Pregnancy Test Works
Unlike its plastic counterparts, what's being billed as the "pregnancy test of the future" is made from 0 percent plastic and is 100 percent biodegradable. Lia's website notes that you can flush it, compost it, or even "save it in a scrapbook."
Instead of the typical plastic casing, the Lia test uses a paper-based design that can break down in soil or water over the course of just a few weeks.
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And it works just like the pregnancy tests we've all become accustomed to over the past 40+ years. You pee on it for five seconds, lay the test flat, remove the tear tab, and see your results.
The company explains that the test has been third-party proven to disintegrate in wastewater and is safe for most plumbing systems and homes, even ones with septic systems. That's because it's made of the same natural, plant fibers as most toilet paper and weighs less than four squares of a leading two-ply.
Potential Concerns About the Lia Pregnancy Test
Gizmodo's Earther notes that the flushable pregnancy test isn't flawless: The results can reportedly be difficult for vision-impaired people to read. They also point out that accessibility is a concern, as right now, Lia is only available online in the U.S. and costs $13.99 for a two-pack.
In response to these concerns, Edwards told the site, "We hope to innovate even further in the near future to make our test fully inclusive and accessible." And they hope Lia will be available in retail stores soon.