False Pregnancy (Pseudocyesis): Causes, Symptoms, and Tests
Share This Article
Learn about donation options.
Subscribe our newsletter
to be notified when we publish
Getting pregnant and having a baby is the dream of many women. This dream sometimes reaches such dimensions that even the slightest change in the person’s body can be attributed to pregnancy. However, pregnancy does not always occur as easily as expected. Many different factors, physical, environmental, or psychological, can prevent having a baby at the desired time. Sometimes this desire misleads the body and leads to false pregnancy.
So what is the so-called false pregnancy? Why does it happen? What are the symptoms? Let’s examine together what you wonder about the subject.
What is False Pregnancy?
A pseudopregnancy is when a woman shows many signs of pregnancy but has no biological evidence of a baby.
This condition is also known in medicine as pseudocyesis. Among the people, it has different names such as false pregnancy, phantom pregnancy, or psychological pregnancy. In short, “What is a false pregnancy?” It is not correct to think of the answer to the question as “acting like pregnant” or “deceiving the other party”. This is a health issue.
In pseudocyesis, the person feels like he is really pregnant, his body shows the same symptoms as in pregnant women and looks pregnant from the outside, but there is no baby.
False Pregnancy Symptoms
The problem of pseudocyesis has similar features as the findings of expectant women. For this reason, most of the time, both the person himself and the people around him believe that he is pregnant. Even the doctor consulted for examination may interpret the findings as a true sign of pregnancy until the necessary tests are performed.
False pregnancy symptoms include:
- Period delay
- Breast tenderness and enlargement
- Growth of the abdomen
- Weight gain
- Fatigue and weakness
- Color change in nipples
- Production of milk in the breasts
- Acne on the skin
- Softening of the cervix
- Feeling baby movements in the abdomen
- Feeling the labor pains
All these symptoms are common symptoms encountered in a normal pregnancy. However, pseudocyesis is when the brain takes over hormones and makes the body believe that there is a baby, resulting in the same symptoms. In other words, the symptoms of false pregnancy are no different from the symptoms of a normal pregnancy. Therefore, it is very difficult to make this distinction based on the symptoms.
What Causes Psychological Pregnancy?
Many people wonder about the psychological causes of pregnancy. However, experts cannot definitively explain what causes this condition. The strongest possibility considered; The problem is that the problem may be caused by psychological reasons, the central nervous system influences the endocrine system to make people believe that there is a baby, and it leads to the development of pregnancy and the formation of symptoms as if there is a baby.
Psychological reasons that may cause pseudocyesis are as follows;
- A woman’s desire to have a baby.
- Seeking infertility treatment and struggling to have children.
- Such a thought occurs in the minds of women who have had their uterus removed, have problems in their tubes, or who cannot become pregnant because they have some kind of disease related to the reproductive system.
- Having previously lost a baby due to reasons such as miscarriage or stillbirth.
- Believing in the possibility that the birth control method used may fail.
- Being never married and over the age of marriage triggers the anxiety that the biological clock is running out.
- The development of fear of becoming pregnant in the case of a traumatic situation such as harassment and rape.
Considering these reasons, it is seen that the problem develops completely psychologically. In summary, the problem is a kind of mind game that the brain plays on the person.
How is False Pregnancy Diagnosed?
Diagnosing a phantom pregnancy is pretty simple nowadays. Even if all the symptoms indicate that the person is pregnant, the diagnosis can be easily made during a routine examination by the obstetrician.
The diagnosis of false pregnancy is made in two different ways:
- With the ultrasound examination: In the ultrasound examination, the amniotic sac, heartbeat, and the presence of the baby are checked. In the absence of all three criteria, a diagnosis is made.
- By blood test: The obstetrician checks the Beta-HCG value with a blood or urine test. If the tests come back negative, the pregnancy is not real.
Who is at Risk?
Today, the incidence of pseudocyesis is quite low compared to the past. False pregnancy is a condition that can occur in any woman. However, the fact that the underlying causes are psychological puts some people in the risk group.
- Those who want to have a baby,
- Women who experienced traumatic losses such as miscarriage, stillbirth,
- Women receiving fertility-supportive treatment (those who are undergoing infertility treatment),
- Women who cannot get pregnant despite being very wanted,
- Women who are extremely afraid of getting pregnant (including situations such as rape, incest),
- those who have entered menopause,
- women who have never been married,
- Women who are not likely to become pregnant due to biological reasons (with their tubes tied, without a uterus, etc.) carry a higher risk.
Will Fake Pregnancy Come Out on Pregnancy Tests?
One of the issues that women are most curious about is how the pregnancy test will give a result in case of false pregnancy.
False pregnancy is not the same as an ectopic pregnancy or an empty pregnancy. In an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo has formed, but it is attached to the wrong place. In an empty pregnancy, a sac has formed, but there is no baby. In both cases, pregnancy tests can come back positive. If a woman is having a false pregnancy, the urine test done at home and the urine and blood tests applied in the health units will also be negative.
The value measured in these tests is the presence of the Beta-HCG hormone. If fertilization has occurred or if the baby is attached to the uterus, beta-HCG begins to be secreted and increases above normal. Since there is no baby in pseudocyesis, the production of this hormone does not occur. For this reason, all tests are negative.
In rare cases, there is a possibility that the test will be positive. The presence of a tumor in the body and some types of cancer can increase the amount of the Beta-HCG hormone. In this case, the definitive diagnosis is made with a detailed ultrasound examination.
Does someone experience a psychological pregnancy experience menstrual bleeding?
When a woman has a missed period, if she has an active sexual life, the first thing that comes to mind is the suspicion of pregnancy. Women may think they are pregnant after the delays that usually occur in their menstrual periods.
A similar situation is observed in false pregnancy. A woman who believes she is expecting a baby may experience a delay in menstruation as a result of menstrual irregularity. In short, menstrual bleeding is not seen in psychological pregnancy and the longer the problem lasts, the longer the menstrual bleeding can be stopped.
How is False Pregnancy Treated?
For women who have been diagnosed, “How is false pregnancy treatment?” The answer to the question may be questioned. However, this is not a physical problem. For this reason, methods such as drug therapy are not applied. The only drug treatment may be antipsychotic drug treatments aimed at eliminating these problems by getting to the source of psychological causes. The specialist physician in the relevant field decides whether such drugs will be needed or not. Other than that, there is no cure for false pregnancy.
False pregnancy can have profound effects on women. Often the person is hardly convinced that he is not a baby. The best course of action in these cases is to persuade the patient in an appropriate language and to provide psychological support.
We are supporting women all around the world before, during, and after their pregnancy by providing up-to-date information and advice, and tools.
We kindly ask for your support to continue to produce content for you and to enable you.