Women trying to conceive for quite some time can lead you to a monthly issue. You feel like you are pregnant. You experience all the signs and symptoms of pregnancy, such as fatigue, cravings and even nausea. And then, your period arrives, and you come to know that you are not pregnant.

Women can experience all the pregnancy symptoms, but they test negative in pregnancy tests. It is very common to feel like you are pregnant when you are trying to conceive.

What is an imaginary pregnancy symptom?

Imaginary pregnancy symptoms are the symptoms that women experience and try to think that they are pregnant. Women become anxious to know whether they are pregnant or not between ovulation and the expected period. Women can imagine being pregnant when they experience early pregnancy symptoms such as tender breasts, fatigue and bloating, emotional sensitivity, light cramping, and even food cravings.

Imaginary pregnancy and pseudocyesis are not the same; they are different. Pseudocyesis refers to a psychological condition where a woman believes that she is pregnant, but she is not.

What is pseudocyesis?

Sometimes women experience pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, swelling breasts, and they feel like they are pregnant, but that’s not true. It’s a case of false pregnancy.

False pregnancy is also known as phantom pregnancy. The clinical term of false pregnancy is pseudocyesis. This is a very uncommon condition, and it causes a woman to believe that she is pregnant. Women suffering from this problem even have many classic symptoms of pregnancy.

False pregnancy is not related to a miscarriage. In false pregnancy, symptoms may last long enough to make a woman and people around her believe that she is expecting.

Why does false pregnancy happen?

There are no exacts reasons for false pregnancy. But there are some theories related to this. Some mental health professionals believe that false pregnancy happens because of an intense desire or fear of becoming pregnant. There is the possibility that this affects the endocrine system, which leads to cause symptoms of pregnancy.

The next theory is related to wish fulfilment. Some mental health professionals believe that when a woman desires to be pregnant, because of different reasons such as experiencing multiple miscarriages, infertility, etc., she may miscalculate several changes in her body as a clear sign that she is pregnant.

The last theory is related to some chemical changes in the nervous system related to depressive disorders. There is a possibility that these changes are the reason for false pregnancy.

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What are the symptoms of false pregnancy?

A false pregnancy may resemble pregnancy in every way except the presence of a baby. In all respects, the woman feels like she is pregnant.

Physically, the most common symptom is a bloated abdomen, which is similar to a baby bump. The belly may begin to enlarge just as during pregnancy when a developing baby starts growing inside the mother’s womb. Extended abdomen during false pregnancy is not the result of a baby but expanded because of gas, urine, and fat.

The second most common physical symptom is women’s irregular menstrual cycle. If women are experiencing pseudocyesis, then between one-half and three-quarters of they may feel like the baby is moving. So women also report that they feel like the baby’s kick, even when there is no baby present inside.

Some other symptoms during false pregnancy that look like pregnancy symptoms are as follows:

  • Weight gain
  • Labour pain
  • Morning sickness and vomiting
  • Changes occurring in breasts, including size and pigmentation
  • Lactation
  • Tender breasts
  • Increased appetite
  • Inverted bellybutton
  • False labour
  • Enlargement of the uterus
  • Softening of the cervix

All of the above symptoms may be so much believable that even doctors can be confused.

Is there a treatment for false pregnancy?

Imaging techniques such as ultrasound show proof that she is not pregnant, and it is the most successful way to bring false pregnancy to an end.

False pregnancies do not affect direct physical causes, so there is no need for any recommendations for treating with medication. Medication might be prescribed if a woman experience symptoms like menstrual irregularity.

False pregnancy usually takes place in women experiencing psychological instability. If women are going through this, they should be under the supervision of a psychotherapist for treatment.

How common is false pregnancy?

The concept of false pregnancy is not new. The cases of pseudocyesis have dropped significantly in the United States over the last century.

During the 1940s, the cases of false pregnancy approximately occurred in 1 out of every 250 pregnancies. The cases of false pregnancies have declined between 1 and 6 cases for every 22,000 births.

Women experience a phantom pregnancy is on an average of 33. Approximately one-third of women suffering from pseudocyesis have been pregnant at least once before, and more than two-thirds of women are married. Women who have suffered incest can be at a greater risk of experiencing false pregnancies.

False pregnancies have become rare in countries that have easy access to accurate pregnancy tests. Pseudocyesis is seen at higher rates in some parts of the world, where culture links a woman’s worth with her ability to conceive.

Optimistic body and progesterone

The feelings of “pregnancy” are not always inside a woman’s head. The symptoms of false pregnancy are the real reactions to the hormones in the body. When it comes to pregnancy potential, women’s bodies are optimistic. As soon as ovulation happens, the body starts preparing for a new life. This can happen even if conception did not take place.

The hormone that is responsible for maintaining a healthy early pregnancy is progesterone. Progesterone increases just after ovulation. If the woman is not pregnant, then progesterone starts falling after 12 to 16 days after ovulation. Then the woman has her period.

Women may feel tired and emotional due to a high level of progesterone. This hormone is also responsible for tender breasts, fluid retention, and constipation.

Progesterone levels in a women’s body rise whether the woman is pregnant or not. Also, sometimes fertility drug side effects may be mistaken for early pregnancy symptoms. This becomes true if women are taking progesterone injections or suppositories.

The case of false pregnancy is very rare. The symptoms of pregnancy and pseudocyesis are so similar that it confuses people, but there is one important distinction. In false pregnancy, there is no presence of the baby. It is because conception didn’t take place yet, except for false pregnancy symptoms, that seems true. 

Antara Chowdhary

Antara Chowdhury is a Content Marketer and Strategist with 6 years of experience. She is Master degree holder in Journalism and wants to explore everything she can write on.

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