False Pregnancy, also known as pseudocyesis, would mislead one into the assumption of being pregnant. This condition is also believed to be purely psychological at times. It usually occurs based on the belief and desire of a woman to be pregnant. Furthermore, this desire is so strong that she starts believing that she is actually pregnant. The brain would then misinterpret the signals as a pregnancy. Further, this would lead to the secretion of hormones which cause physical changes in her body same as those that occur during an actual pregnancy.
Apart from humans, these symptoms also occur in other mammals like the cats, dogs, and mice. It is termed as pseudopregnancy in the case of mammals. As mentioned above, this condition is not restricted to women alone, but can also happen to men (quite rarely) which is known as couvade syndrome.
The signs and symptoms of pseudocyesis are enlisted below.
- Abdominal Distension: This is a condition wherein the abdomen or belly is bloated. The reasons for this could be as simple as weight gain, water retention, or anesthetic effect, in case of administration of the same.
- Alteration in Nipples: Changes in the appearance of the breasts lead women into having this assumption that the body is in the process of baby making.
- Breast Enlargement: Breast enlargement again has got to do with the appearance of the organ that shows alteration.
- Breast Secretion: Secretion of any kind is one of the symptoms of pseudocyesis. For example, due to increased level of progesterone hormone, the breasts secrete a thick transparent fluid and for some reason milk secretion can also take place. However, this is rare.
- Breast Tenderness: This is a very common symptom which makes women feel that they have conceived.
- Cessation of Menstruation: Irregular or missed periods may also be a symptom. The reasons behind a missed period are many. In case of this condition though, the reason is mistaken as being pregnancy.
- Morning Sickness: Nausea being one of the early signs of pregnancy is another common cause of the misconception.
- Cravings: It's normal to have cravings during pregnancy, but not all food cravings indicate a real one. In fact cravings are one of the commonly observed signs.
- False Labor: Also termed as simulated pregnancy, happens when women start assuming that they are pregnant.
- Quickening: A false feeling of sensing the baby move is one of the symptoms as well.
- Weight Gain: As weight gain is usually a normal symptom, it also is one the signs of a pseudocyesis.
False Pregnancy Ailments
Abdominal distension is the symptom of a bloated stomach that leads women and their partners into thinking that they are going to become parents. This symptom is observed in 60-90% cases of women with pseudocyesis symptoms. Stomach cramps come next in the list of most common symptoms. False labor is more often than not triggered by Braxton Hicks contractions pains.
Labor and delivery is a juxtaposition which put most of the first time mothers-to-be in a very dicey situation as far as their psychology is concerned. Because both the partners, women as well as men start thinking that they will soon have a baby whereas the fact is otherwise. It can have devastating effects on the couple.
Irregularities in the menstruation cycle of a woman is also something that leads one to believe that she is pregnant. Thus, it is one of the common symptoms. It is important to note that the endocrine system function plays a big role in the irregular periods and pregnancy. Pseudocyesis is often associated with the functioning of the pituitary gland. Hormone imbalance due to stress can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, which misleads one into this assumption.
Quickening is the stage where the fetus shows signs of life through movements that the mother feels. This can be mistaken as the condition of abdominal cramps in early pregnancy. Psychologists categorize women who experience pseudocyesis into two categories. One who is desperate to be pregnant and the other who is too afraid of being pregnant. In both the cases, the minds of women are so attuned with pregnancy that the body responds to their emotions and induces these symptoms.
Women who have their close friends or relatives pregnant, are more prone to experiencing the same. Only a pregnancy test can help identify it and distinguish a false one from the real one. This test results of the examination done right, are the authentic way to detect the same. It is important for one to be aware at an early stage and not fall for these false symptoms.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.