Nowadays, if a woman wants to know if she is pregnant, all she has to do is go to a pharmacy and get a pregnancy test. However, in the past, things were not so simple and other methods were used, some as peculiar as the so-called frog test.
Have you heard of the frog test to confirm pregnancy? Perhaps, you have heard it said to your parents or uncles, or you have heard it in a Spanish movie from the 60s. Today, pregnancy tests, which are available in any pharmacy, react to a certain level of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone, known as hCG, which appears in the urine of women who are pregnant. Thus, in a matter of a few minutes, it is known whether the woman is pregnant or not. This type of test is so well known that it is hard to imagine that in previous decades the pregnancy tests that existed were quite different and as curious as to the frog test.
The Frog Test
This method to detect if a woman is pregnant was used especially during the ’60s, and its operation was like that of the current tests, with the difference that the test strip, or the usual test plastic, were replaced by a frog.
The frog’s test consisted of injecting the animal with a syringe containing the woman’s urine. If the frog ovulated and, 24 hours after the injection, began to spawn, it indicated that there was a sufficient level of hCG in the urine and the woman was pregnant. This was a very inexpensive test since the frogs could give the results on many occasions, and you simply had to wait 40 days between tests.
Researchers Hogben, Zwarestein and Shapiro were the discoverers of the frog test in the 1930s, using the African species ‘Xenopus laevis‘ as the guinea pig. In 1947, Galli Mainini discovered the toad test, with which the results were obtained much earlier.
The toad test consisted of injecting the woman’s urine into the dorsal lymphatic sac of the toad. If three hours after the injection, the animal ejaculated, the pregnancy was confirmed.
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Consequences of the frog test
During the years the frog was tested, large numbers of these animals were imported, generally from Africa.
With the discovery of the current pregnancy tests, the frogs were released, which seems to have caused an unexpected effect, since many of these frogs were infected by a lethal fungus that, by spreading among their congeners, has caused of the diseases that most affect amphibians today: chytridiomycosis.
Currently, the frog test and the toad test are almost forgotten, as pharmacy tests are faster and more reliable. Even so, there are rural areas where they continue to be used since they are very cheap tests.
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