Meaning of Pseudocyesis, Causes and symptoms

Pregnancy is exciting for many women, especially when they need the baby or are pregnant for the first time.

However, pregnancy is not always easy, and in some rare cases, some women do get pregnancy symptoms but are not pregnant.

 

What is a False or Phantom Pregnancy?

A situation whereby you feel pregnant, have pregnancy symptoms, or even test positive on home test and you’re not pregnant is referred to as false, ghost, bogus, phantom pregnancy, or pseudocyesis.

In this case, a woman will experience many, if not all of the symptoms of pregnancy, but without a fetus and possibly the common back pain usually experienced in 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

Meaning of Pseudocyesis, Causes and symptoms

What Causes Phantom Pregnancy or Pseudocyesis?

False pregnancy is not just about imagining that you’re pregnant. There are many physical causes of false pregnancy.

Psychological factors are also responsible, and often play the biggest role at the beginning, hence pseudocyesis is regarded as a mental illness and categorized under DSM-5.

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If the woman’s desire to be pregnant is so strong, the body may react to it with pregnancy symptoms.

There’s thus the false belief of pregnancy accompanied by pregnancy symptoms.

This strong desire can often be triggered by conditions such as infertility, a miscarriage, or impending menopause.

Physical and mental stress can also cause ghost pregnancy in women.

So in some cases, it can lead to signs such as a bulging stomach, tender breasts, and even a sensation of movement in the abdomen.

These symptoms are then misinterpreted in the woman’s brain and the body produces more hormones such as estrogen or prolactin, which can lead to symptoms.

Some studies suggest that factors such as poverty, a lack of education, sexual abuse in childhood, relationship problems, and fear of pregnancy could also trigger pseudocyesis.

 

What are the Symptoms of Pseudocyesis?

The following are false pregnancy symptoms, similar to real pregnancy symptoms.

  • Enlarged and tender breast
  • itchy and tender nipples
  • Missing your period
  • Weight gain
  • Growing belly
  • Feeling fetal movements in the womb
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
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Phantom pregnancy and real pregnancy are very similar. The difference between false pregnancy and real pregnancy can only be ascertained by an ultrasound test.

Pseudocyesis can not test positive for pregnancy if you go for a pregnancy test in the clinic. If your pregnancy is not real, it will fail a positive pregnancy test for the hormone hCG.

 

How long Does False Pregnancy lasts?

The duration of false pregnancy symptoms varies. They can last for a few weeks, months, or even years.

In many cases, false pregnancy can go away on its own without any medical intervention.

How long pseudocyesis symptoms last depends on how soon or far you realize you’re not pregnant.

You can get out of a false pregnancy if you go for a pregnancy test, and see from the ultrasound result that you’re not pregnant.

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In a few cases, women with phantom pregnancies can even go into labor.

 

How to Get out of a False Pregnancy?

False pregnancy can be due to stress, high expectation, and other factors mentioned above.

However, to stop a phantom pregnancy, you’d need to go for a clinical test to disprove that you’re not pregnant.

The difference between a false pregnancy and a real pregnancy is a clinical test result where your uterus is carefully examined.

After the ultrasound scan has shown that there’s no fetus in your belly, and it’s just a bogus pregnancy, your doctor would recommend psychotherapy to help you correct the feeling of being pregnant.

Your medical doctor can also place you on antidepressant or antipsychotic drugs, especially if pseudocyesis is caused majorly by stress.

Hormonal therapy, and uterine dilation & curettage can also be recommended in rare cases.