Moisture-Absorbent Tablet in Pregnancy Tests, Not ‘Hidden Plan B’ Pill

SciCheck Digest

Pregnancy tests contain a desiccant tablet to absorb moisture and keep the test dry before use. But posts on social media falsely claim the tablet is a “hidden plan B” pill. Companies that produce pregnancy tests include a warning on their websites not to consume the desiccant tablets inside. 


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A pregnancy test can confirm pregnancy by checking urine for human chorionic gonadotrophin, or HCG, a hormone that is made in the body when a person is pregnant. 

The components of a pregnancy test stick include an absorbent pad, a nitrocellulose membrane with an antibody test line, and a desiccant tablet. 

The desiccant tablet is a small circular capsule that absorbs moisture and keeps the pregnancy test dry before use. Desiccant tablets are not edible, and manufacturers of pregnancy tests advise people to seek medical attention if they ingest the tablet.

Yet, posts on social media falsely claim that the desiccant tablet is a Plan B pill, a trend that began in 2019 and has been repeated over the years.

Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, is an emergency contraceptive used to reduce the chance of pregnancy for women who’ve had unprotected sex or whose birth control method has failed, as explained by the Mayo Clinic

Morning-after pills contain either levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate, which both delays ovulation. Plan B doesn’t work if you are already pregnant. 

Plan B pills have been under scrutiny since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, which removed the federal right to an abortion and allowed each state to decide whether abortion procedures should be legal, restricted or banned.

Following the court ruling, the FDA changed the Plan B label in December to specify that the product does not end an existing pregnancy or cause abortions.

A Jan. 27 video on Facebook revived the false claim that there is a Plan B pill in pregnancy test kits by posting a compilation video of several men opening a pregnancy test stick and a tablet falling out from inside. 

Tyler Kwidzinski, the user who posted the video and the last of the men featured in the clip, said in the caption of the video, “I found a hidden plan B in a pregnancy test.”

But, again, that’s not what is inside the pregnancy tests. 

First Response, the brand used by Kwidzinski in the video, features a warning on its website that reads: “All of our First Response Test Sticks contain a small desiccant disc, which should not be eaten. If ingested, please contact our Consumer Relations Department at the Safety call number… or your medical provider.”

Clearblue, another brand shown in the video, also addressed the false claims on its website (emphasis theirs): “We are aware of videos circulating about Clearblue pregnancy tests and the tablet found inside. Clearblue pregnancy tests do NOT contain Plan B. All our tests contain a small desiccant tablet which is included to absorb moisture and should not be eaten.” 


Editor’s note: SciCheck’s articles correcting health misinformation are made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control over FactCheck.org’s editorial decisions, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation.

Sources

Mayo Clinic. “Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results?” 23 Dec 2022

Future Learn. “How Does a Pregnancy Test Work?” Accessed 7 Feb 2023.

Clearblue.com. Pregnancy Test. Accessed 7 Feb 2023.

Kiely, Eugene and Lori Robertson. “What happens if Roe v. Wade is Overturned?” FactCheck.org. Updated 24 June 2022. 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Plan B One-Step (1.5 mg levonorgestrel) Information.” 23 Dec 2022. 

Goodman, Brenda. “FDA specifies Plan B emergency contraceptive does not cause abortions.” CNN. 23 Dec 2022. 

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