Phantom pregnancy, also known as false pregnancy is a time when you may believe that you are carrying a child but you may not be expecting it in reality. This condition is termed as pseudocyesis. This condition may have all the symptoms of pregnancy besides carrying a baby. This is an unusual condition which occurs in every one to six out of every 22000 live births. Infact in some rare cases, even men may have a false pregnancy. Let’s know more about phantom pregnancy or false pregnancy:
Though the exact causes of phantom pregnancy are not known but it is believed that when a woman has a very strong desire to get pregnant, her body may start showing signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Some of these signs may include a swollen belly, enlarged breasts and fetal movement inside the body.
The brain of the woman may then misinterpret those signals as pregnancy and this triggers the release of hormones that can lead to actual symptoms of pregnancy. Some reasons which may trigger false pregnancy include infertility, impending menopause, repeat miscarriages or desire to get married.
Symptoms of False Pregnancy
The following are some of the symptoms of false pregnancy:
- One of the first symptoms of phantom pregnancy is the interruption of the menstrual periods. This is a common and a convincing reason to believe it to be an actual pregnancy.
- The swelling of the belly and its expansion is also a common symptom of false pregnancy.
- Nausea and vomiting are some of the other signs which may lead one to believe that it is an actual pregnancy.
- Enlargement of breasts and tenderness of breasts are other common symptoms of false pregnancy which may make it seem like a real pregnancy.
- Changes in the nipples and milk production in the nipples are also signs of false pregnancy seeming to be real.
- Gaining weight, just like in the case of pregnancy may also be symptoms of phantom pregnancy.
- Feeling of fetal movements is yet another symptom.
These symptoms can either last for a few weeks, for nine months and even for a few years in some of the cases.
Tests for Phantom Pregnancy
There are several ways to determine whether the pregnancy that one is experiencing is false or real. To test a phantom pregnancy, a doctor will first evaluate the symptoms, conduct a pelvic examination and then do an abdominal ultrasound. In case of false pregnancy, the ultrasound will detect no baby as there will not be any heartbeat. Urine pregnancy tests will also be negative in such a case.
Treating Phantom Pregnancy
When a woman believes that she is pregnant or is carrying a child, especially for a few months together, then learning that she wasn’t actually pregnant can be very depressing and upsetting. The news must be broken to the female gently and must also provide psychological support. The female may even need therapy to deal with the stress and recover from her disappointment.