Getting pregnant can be the best moment in a woman’s life. It’s all about bringing a new life into the world and caring for someone special. Every little thing that she stressed over, doesn’t carry the same weight anymore. The safety and delight of her child are the only things that matter now. However, those struggling to have children go through a difficult time. Trying for months, even years to conceive is hard and sometimes it can shake our faith. Even watching loved ones around us bare children can be upsetting. Some women want the gift of motherhood so much that it begins to affect them psychologically and physically. Here are 10 facts about Phantom Pregnancy that every woman needs to know!
10 Definition Of Pseudocyesis
A woman’s emotional state is a powerful thing, especially during pregnancy. Even more so in the instance that she isn’t pregnant to begin with. A Phantom Pregnancy, known formally as Pseudocyesis, is when a woman experiences the occurrence of a false pregnancy. The condition is so rare that it happens at a "rate of 1 to 6 for every 22,000 births." Due to its rarity, scientists can’t pinpoint what age group it affects as it can happen to any woman age 20 to another in her 50s. The patients believe, act, and appear as though they are pregnant, despite the absence of a fetus growing in the womb. Not exactly a great thing to happen to any woman who wants to be a mother.
9 Patients Experience The Same Symptoms As A Pregnant Woman
Phantom Pregnancy isn’t just a belief though, it’s a psychological condition that leads a woman to experience the same symptoms as any pregnant woman. Everything from a stopped menstrual cycle, breasts enlargement, morning sickness, and food cravings are present in patients with this condition. “Almost 63-97% of women have also reported abnormal physical changes in their body, such as the expansion of their stomachs.” This symptom alone is enough to convince anyone that a woman is pregnant, even herself. Some women experience the sensation of the “baby moving around” in their abdomen, even though the ultrasound shows no signs of a fetus. These symptoms are too real not to believe.
8 Symptoms Can Be Long-Term
When a patient arrives at their primary doctor’s office to get treated for a condition, the typical advice given is that the symptom would go away on its own. For a Phantom Pregnancy case, that’s not always the case. A false pregnancy can last the usual 9 months, same as a normal expecting mother-to-be, but in some cases, symptoms can go on for years.
According to the Baby Center, doctors conclude that because the symptoms are so “realistic and long-lasting” that the woman will continue to convince herself that she is pregnant for as long as time permits her. The signs are all very real, even up to the moment the baby is about to be “born.”
7 Some Women Experience Labor Pains
Symptoms of pregnancy are one thing but going through the motions of giving birth is entirely another. A phantom pregnancy is so believable that it can even produce contractions, convincing a woman that she’s going into labor. During labor, women have reportedly brought in documentation to prove their pregnancy. Back in 2013 a Brazilian woman supposedly going into labor was rushed to the hospital. She had the signs of a woman about to give birth, down to the moaning and screaming. The woman even provided her papers from her midwife, proving that she, in fact, was pregnant. How the midwife even acquired the papers, no one knows! The doctors tested for the baby’s heartbeat and heard nothing. The next step was to prepare for an emergency C-section, which turned out to be a lost cause in the end. The woman had been so convincing that the doctors believed she was going into labor, too.
6 Men Experience Phantom Pregnancy, Too!
Women aren’t the only ones who exhibit symptoms of a false pregnancy, though. Men can suffer from a phantom pregnancy as well. Scientists refer to the condition as Couvade Syndrome, which is brought on by a man’s pregnant significant other or wife.
Scientists still can’t explain why men suffer from Couvade Syndrome, though theorists have speculated several reasons for the condition. Some suggest that the syndrome is an act of preparing the man for fatherhood, which is reasonable. Others claim it has to do with the growing presence of women in the workforce. If that were true, a lot more men than just a handful should be dealing with the syndrome. At least men get to experience what it’s like being pregnant for once.
5 And So Do Dogs!
Not only do men to experience labor pains but sadly, so do our pets. Specifically, dogs suffer from what is called pseudopregnancy, where the female dog’s “ovaries begin producing pregnancy hormones, regardless of the presence of a fetus.” In a normal pregnant dog, the hormones will continue to produce up until the point she gives birth. However, if she is not pregnant, hormone levels will decrease in 4 to 6 weeks, confusing the brain to the point that it starts sending signals throughout the body to “prepare” for a baby. Still, the female dog will experience and mimic labor pains, the same as any pregnant woman would.
4 A Queen Of England Suffered From False Pregnancies
Phantom pregnancy can pretty much happen to anyone, any ethnic group and during any time period. The most prevalent recording of a woman having a false pregnancy happened during Medieval times. Queen Mary Tudor, also famously known as “Bloody Mary”, the Queen of England and Ireland, desperately tried to keep her rule over both countries in the hopes of providing an heir to the throne.
Unfortunately, the Queen suffered several false pregnancies and even developed ovarian cancer. Historians have speculated that it was her despair and embarrassment that drove her to go on a murder spree. If only medicine was as good as it was today, the Queen might still have received the help she needed.
3 Science Proves There’s A Connection Between Hormones and Psychology
Scientists don’t know the exact cause for phantom pregnancy but they believe the relationship between hormones and psychology play a major role in its occurrence. The mood changes that normally take place in a pregnant woman, are amplified which triggers the hormones responsible for conception. The symptoms can also continue to fuel the woman’s suspicions that she is pregnant, leading her and others to believe, that she is carrying a baby. Other theories arise from the trauma caused by physical abuse victims suffered as a child. Menopause and of course, stress can cause phantom pregnancy to occur as well. Doctors may not have cracked the code on why false pregnancies happen but every day they get closer and closer to the truth.
2 Tested Positive But Not Pregnant
Upon medical examination of the womb, it becomes clear that she suffers from phantom pregnancy when there’s no physical evidence of a fetus. However, that doesn’t mean a pregnancy test will tell us the same thing. Despite being 99% accurate, there are underlying factors that can interfere with testing results. Woman have reportedly been cheated by their pregnancy tests, as they have tested positive when they are not expecting at all. If the ultrasounds don’t show anything and there’s no real delivery, then that’s a clear sign there’s no baby. Phantom pregnancy is as real as it is difficult convincing a woman that she is not pregnant.
1 How Doctors Can Verify If A Pregnancy Has Occurred
Going back to ultrasounds, the same tests used during pregnancy can be used to confirm once and for all if actual conception has occurred or not. Since a woman with a phantom pregnancy mimics every move and appearance of a real pregnant woman, it makes sense to have the same procedures performed on her. For starters, the patient will go in for a physical exam and follow it up with an examination of the pelvis to further determine the instance of pregnancy. Next comes the urinalysis which either confirms or denies the claim, based on the findings. Women can expect the urinalysis to produce negative results. In the instance that she has developed an illness that causes her body to produce hormones that trigger a pregnancy, however, it will show an entirely new result. In which case, further tests would need to be conducted at that point. A false pregnancy can be confusing and disorienting to deal with, but it is treatable.