Pregnancy Tests…From a Vending Machine?


Do you remember buying your first pregnancy test? Sort of like your first box of condoms, or even your first box of tampons, the drugstore pregnancy test purchase comes with the potential for embarrassment. Depending on how well you know your pharmacist, the embarrassing effect can be momentary or lasting.

What if there were a way to get a pregnancy test without even having to bring it to the counter, or worse, ask someone  to take it out from behind one?

An innovation currently being tested in Europe takes the human  interaction out of the equation. The unlikely solution: A vending machine.

Maybe Baby pregnancy tests are being sold in a clinic in the U.K. and in railway stations in Switzerland. The hope is that women will feel less ashamed about purchasing something directly than negotiating with a cashier. The experiment is particularly aimed at younger women who might be especially shy about publicly acknowledging a possible pregnancy. The U.K. machine also stocks mail-away STD tests in hopes of helping women take action on these anonymously.

Here in the U.S. our vending machines are pretty much limited to snack products. But elsewhere in the world, vending machines have supplied the public with a wider range of goods for a long time. Japan is famous for its unconventional use of vending machines—One reportedly sells the used panties of high school girls. Initial revulsion aside, the impulse behind that phenomenon is actually related. (It would probably be pretty hard to bring a pair of underpants to the checkout counter too.)  I love the idea of a machine like the German one above, but just stocked with the products that make you avoid eye contact at the drugstore. Pregnancy tests, condoms, lubricant,  laxatives, enemas, diarrhea medicine, Depends….

photo: Kaleissin/flickr