The pregnancy test as we know it might soon be replaced by a much smarter, more convenient alternative.
Trials in Switzerland have led to scientific discoveries regarding minute physiological changes that occur when a woman conceives, and now an algorithm is being developed that will be able to both signal the start of a pregnancy and highlight the best windows to try for a baby.
The smartwatch will be able to detect pregnancy about a week after conception (similar to the most sensitive traditional tests currently on the market), but developers predict that in the future detection will be faster. Recording the wearer’s pulse, breathing rate and temperature, the tool is based on the same principals employed by start-up Ava, who recently invented an ‘ovulation tracking bracelet’.
The team behind Ava presented their research at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual congress in Texas, stating that according to their findings a pulse variation of just 2.1 beats per minute, as well as a O.2C change in skin temperature was characteristic of the early stages of pregnancy. Mohaned Shilaih, senior researcher at University Hospital Zurich, highlighted the advantages of the algorithm: ‘Rather than waking up every morning and trying to pee on a stick to detect the rise in hCG you would simply have the bracelet worn both night and day’.
It is expected to take some of the stress and tedium out of pregnancy testing, though the smartwatch will obviously be far more expensive than a home testing kit.
Pregnancy testing has come an astonishingly long way since the 1950s, when, bizarrely, female frogs were injected with the urine of the patient; if the frog produced eggs within the next 25 hours, the test was positive. In the 60s and 70s hormonal testing was introduced, with the first at-home testing kit arriving in the States in 1977.
For the last few decades, though, the classic blue cross or double line has been the life-changing symbol of elation or despair, depending on the user’s feelings about pregnancy – so the new smartwatch signals the end of an era.