Bethany Edwards and Anna Simpson: How to Test for Pregnancy at Home in a Revolutionary Way

August 14 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: A Better Way to Test

Do you know who the first pregnant woman on TV was? It was the business-savvy and crazy talented Lucille Ball in the early 1950s. The idea of someone preggo on the tube is considered pretty normal these days, but back in the ’50s, it was taboo. In fact, the script for I Love Lucy didn’t even include the word “pregnant.” How crazy is it that we women keep the human race churning, yet pregnancy wasn’t allowed to be discussed publicly? Today, remember that your body is yours and can do incredible stuff. Take ownership of it and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed.


When you think you may have a bun in the oven, you pop open a pregnancy test. Then you see a booklet with what seems like a gazillion words, weird diagrams and a lot of percentage signs. You may want to skip all that and get to the test itself, but not so fast. Are you sure it isn’t too early to test? As many as 60 percent of women test a week too soon, resulting in a negative result. Be smart, girlfriend, and make sure you hit the bathroom at the right time.

WOMEN TO WATCH: Bethany Edwards and Anna Simpson, Co-founders of Lia Diagnostics

Back in 1969, a female freelance designer created a patent for something revolutionary: the home pregnancy test. Now, almost 50 years later, a couple of women are retransforming the home pregnancy test.

Bethany Edwards and Anna Simpson
co-founded Lia Diagnostics, which developed the first-ever flushable pregnancy test, called Lia, available for purchase later this year. Made of biodegradable materials, this discreet test disintegrates in wastewater in 10 weeks, is compostable and about as thick as two-ply toilet paper. Just like traditional plastic home pregnancy tests, Lia is more than 99 percent accurate.

Bethany and Anna invented this revolutionary product while attending grad school at the University of Pennsylvania. They’ve both been interested in product design for a long time; Bethany previously worked as a creative director at an advertising firm, while Anna designed jewelry. So, designing Lia came naturally to these two entrepreneurs, who initially had a rough start building their own business. According to Bethany, though, entering pitch competitions boosted their confidence, and other people who believed in them and their idea also helped motivate them.

The two women wanted to create something sustainable for women because they were unhappy with the model of pregnancy tests. They’d hear of women taking pregnancy tests in secret and throwing them out in the trash. So, the flushable pregnancy test was born.

Their product has been a few years in the making, since these eco-entrepreneurs waited to launch with FDA approval. But aside from the serious environmental impact Lia prevents, its discretion is perhaps the most compelling element. It’s also designed to help women in abusive relationships as a response to reproductive coercion, a scenario in which a partner forces his partner to get pregnant or end a pregnancy. The flushability of Lia allows women to decide whatever they want to do with their bodies, whenever they want, without having to deal with any force, pressure or violence.

Thank you to the creators of Lia for believing in their product and giving women the option to make their own choices. After all, privacy is power.

Photographer Harriette Hartigan said:

“Giving birth and being born brings us into the essence of creation, where the human spirit is courageous and bold and the body, a miracle of wisdom.”

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