Pregnancy Tests, Reinvented


At-home pregnancy tests haven’t changed much since they first came on the market in the mid-1970s. In fact, other than an option for a digital yes/no rather than a one line/two lines readout, they really haven’t changed at all. If you’ve taken a pregnancy test recently, you know the drill: There’s a plastic stick that contains a hormone-sensitive strip, you pee on the end, and wait a minute or two for your results to appear. They’re not fancy but they are accurate so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well it turns out that women aren’t satisfied with the current home pregnancy tests, there just haven’t been any better options. Until now.

Enter Lia, a biodegradable, completely flushable, discreet, ultra-private home pregnancy test.

Founders Bethany Edwards and Anna Couturier Simpson first thought of the idea when they met as graduate students in a research program at the University of Pennsylvania. They thought that current pregnancy tests, with their hard, plastic packaging, large size and obvious shape didn’t make much sense in today’s modern world and decided to come up with a redesign for a project. Their concept won Temple University’s Innovative Idea Competition and they were later accepted into DreamIt Ventures, which provided a stipend to get them going.

(And what was it like being female entrepreneurs with a uniquely female product trying to get launched in the notoriously bro-heavy world of venture capitalism? Well, it was tough but they made it work by staying on track with goals, hitting key milestones, and being relentless, Edwards says.)

They started with asking women what their ideal pregnancy test would be like. The answers surprised them. Edwards and Couturier had already decided the new test needed to be made of eco-friendly materials, and the women agreed, but the founders discovered something else that surprised them. Many ladies were really nervous about someone else knowing they took a test or reading their results and would go to great lengths to hide it. 

“Women really value privacy when it comes to a pregnancy test,” Edwards says. “We kept hearing over and over again stories of women hiding tests in the trash; one woman told us she wrapped her used test in multiple layers of tin foil before placing it in an office bathroom trash can and covering it in toilet paper, with the hopes that no one would go to the bother of unwrapping it to see her results.”

The direction was clear: Women wanted a test that ensured only they would know the results. And also, women wanted a test they could show someone without having to hand that person a stick with their pee all over it. (Understandable!)

Edwards and Couturier Simpson came up with Lia, a flat pregnancy test made out of biodegradable materials that can be flushed entirely down the toilet after using it. “It’s thick enough to use easily without peeing all over your hand but it will still dissolve in water quickly when flushed,” Couturier says, adding it works the same way as traditional pregnancy tests, using a strip of material sensitive to the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and is 99 percent accurate if used the first day of your missed period or later.

In addition, the packaging is very discreet, coming in a small “greeting card” style that is easily slipped into a purse or pocket. So no one has to know that you’re even wondering if you’re pregnant, much less that you’ve taken a test or what the result is, allowing you to take the test wherever and whenever you’re ready. It doesn’t get more private than that! Plus, all of it — packaging and test — is ecofriendly, leaving zero footprint behind.

Sound like something you’d like to try? Look for Lia in stores mid-2018. The test will be priced around $10 and will be available in multipacks. In the meantime, to read more about the research behind Lia or to support the company in donating pregnancy tests to women in need, visit their site.


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