A Flushable Pregnancy Test Is Coming, and It Just Might Change the World

Raise your hand if you’ve ever hidden a pregnancy test in the trash. You know, when you do that thing where you wrap a pregnancy test in toilet paper and bury it deep in a trash can so no one accidentally sees it?

Yup, been there.

Lia pregnancy test
Image source: Lia Diagnostics

But ladies, the days of hiding our pregnancy tests in the trash may be gone forever, thanks to Lia, a new completely flushable and biodegradable pregnancy test.

The brainchild of Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer Bethany Edwards and Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer Anna Couturier Simpson, Lia is the world’s first flushable pregnancy test — and it may just change the way we take pregnancy tests forever.

Edwards and Simpson initially came up with the idea for Lia while pursuing their respective master’s degrees in integrated product design and engineering. With a focus on sustainability, the pair decided to rethink the traditional plastic pregnancy test, which hasn’t been updated or changed in over 30 years. By comparison, consider the amount of changes the Apple personal computer or cell phone has undergone in a fraction of that time!

Throughout those 30 years, women have taken a lot of pregnancy tests. In fact, the team at Lia discovered that in the U.S. alone, all of those discarded pregnancy tests (excluding ovulation tests or other fertility products) add up to a staggering 2 million pounds of waste every single year.

Shannon Leaf, the company’s chief operating officer, tells Babble:

“If you line up all the plastic from pregnancy tests, it would reach from Philadelphia to the international space station and back seven times, every year.”

Lia aims to put an end to that plastic waste, all while creating a product that is more discreet for women to use. The Lia pregnancy test is 100 percent biodegradable and compostable, and because it’s made with natural plant fibers, it can simply be flushed after use.

Simpson explains that Lia went through rigorous industry testing to ensure that the product will break down completely under normal conditions, right in your septic tank. “Our hope is to cut down on the plastic and make this a new and easier way to test,” adds Edwards.

The name for the product comes from the Greek name Lia, meaning “bearer of good news.” And no matter what result you were hoping to see on your pregnancy test, Lia hopes to reveal your status in a more private way. Unlike traditional plastic tests that require you to aim on a pretty tiny area and hope for the best, Lia is designed to accommodate the urine stream more fully, and with less mess.

“We wanted a product that would be good for women and for the planet as well,” explains Edwards.

Now, for those of you who have considered using your pregnancy test to announce an impending arrival to your partner, fear not. You can keep Lia to show a partner and the results of the test will not fade away or disappear. (Note: the team recommends that you remove the saturated bottom layer before keeping the test). The team at Lia is also considering the idea of including a card with the test that you could use to announce your news as well.

Oh, and because you’re probably wondering about the accuracy of this magical flushable pregnancy test, Lia’s official press release announcing its clearance from the FDA, states that the test is 99 percent accurate when used on the first day of your missed period.

Aside from making a difference in reducing waste from pregnancy tests in the U.S., Lia has also partnered with women’s health organizations, such as Planned Parenthood Global to help bring the biodegradable pregnancy test to developing countries around the world. Edwards explains that the current practice in developing countries is to burn plastic waste, including pregnancy tests, so even in the absence of toilets or septic systems, Lia provides more environmentally-friendly option for women.

The team expects that Lia will be available for purchase in mid-2018 for around the same price as traditional pregnancy tests. And Lia is also just the start of what the company has in mind for the future. They plan on tackling many other single-use diagnostic tools by reimagining design and usability with a focus on sustainability.

So, could Lia officially change the way we take pregnancy tests forever? It’s entirely possible, and honestly, I hope it does. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t mind my days of taking pregnancy tests in a Walmart bathroom and stuffing them in my purse to officially come to an end.

To learn more about Lia and mission to improve reproductive health for all, visit their website.

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