PregnancyWomen's Health

All that you need to know about false pregnancy

A woman’s intuition seldom goes wrong. Most women know that they are pregnant before they even go for a test. However, sometimes even a woman’s intuition can be wrong. One such instance is when their bodies tell them that they are pregnant when in fact, they are not. The symptoms that convince a woman that she is pregnant sometimes are not due to pregnancy. This phenomenon is called Pseudocyesis or false pregnancy.

The signs of false pregnancy

Women with Pseudocyesis have many symptoms of pregnancy without the presence of an actual fetus. A woman with Pseudocyesis may experience the following symptoms:

  • Missing the menstrual cycle
  • Tender and bigger breasts, changes in the nipples, and probably milk production
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Some usual pregnancy aches and pains such as leg cramps and backache
  • The feeling of fetal movement
  • Weight gain
  • A swollen abdomen
  • Signs of contractions or Preeclampsia

Some or all of these symptoms can continue for a few weeks or as long as the full nine months of pregnancy. A very tiny percentage of Women with Pseudocyesis arrive at the hospital with pseudo labor pain.

Reasons behind false pregnancy

According to studies, the psychological and physical issues are the root causes behind Pseudocyesis. Even though the exact reasons are yet to be determined, doctors believe that psychological factors play tricks and convince the body that it’s pregnant.

False pregnancy can be resulting out of an actual physical symptom like an ovarian tumor. Apart from that, the following factors might play a role in triggering false pregnancy;

  • History of depression
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Relationship problems
  • Lack of education
  • Poverty

Sometimes a woman strongly yearns to become a mother due to a wide range of reasons such as;

  • Because of infertility
  • Loss of a child
  • Repeat miscarriages
  • Desire to get married
  • When menopause is imminent

In any of these scenarios, the body of the willing women may produce some real pregnancy signs like enlarged breasts, a swollen belly and they can even feel the fetal movement. Their brain misinterprets those signs as pregnancy and triggers the release of Estrogen and Prolactin hormones that ultimately lead to actual pregnancy symptoms.

There is no easily identifiable cause associated with Pseudocyesis. It’s hard to get reliable data about false pregnancies because even if some Pseudocyesis patients can be convinced of their misconception by showing the lack of confirming evidence but most patients just stop seeking prenatal care.

Tests for False Pregnancy

The doctor assesses her symptoms, performs a pelvic exam and abdominal ultrasound to check if a woman is experiencing a false pregnancy or not. These tests are also performed during a normal pregnancy to feel and visualize the unborn baby.

In the case of Pseudocyesis, no baby will be seen on the ultrasound, nor there any heartbeat.  Sometimes, however, the doctor will find some of the physical changes like the enlarged uterus and softened cervix that usually occurs during pregnancy. In these cases of false pregnancies, urine pregnancy tests will always produce a negative result. However, in the case of some rare cancers, hormones that are similar to pregnancy will be produced.

Furthermore, certain rare medical conditions can imitate the symptoms of actual pregnancy, including ectopic pregnancy, morbid obesity, and cancer. Tests need to be performed to rule out these conditions.

Treatment of false pregnancy

In some cases, the patient suffering from Pseudocyesis may be given medications for symptoms like the cessation of menstruation. But, in most cases, emotional support that includes psychotherapy is the best way to treat Pseudocyesis. It is vital to help the patient understand the factors that lead to Pseudocyesis and cope with them. Oftentimes, women with Pseudocyesis will see a different obstetrician-gynecologist for a different opinion.

When a woman truly believes she is pregnant, especially for several months, it can be very disheartening for her to learn that she is not. According to doctors, the fact that the patient isn’t pregnant shouldn’t be imposed upon her. Instead, the lab findings need to be communicated politely and give her ample time to come to the correct conclusion gradually. Psychological support needs to be provided to help the patient with Pseudocyesis pull through from disappointment.

Author Bio : Riddhima Sen has been associated with the health industry for a long time.

In her leisure, she loves writing articles. Through her articles, you can obtain knowledge on various stem cell preservation, cord blood banking.

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