Pseudocytosis is a syndrome in which the woman thinks she is pregnant, but she is not. For example, typical pregnancy symptoms may even arise because the brain misinterprets the signals and causes an increase in the hormones specific to pregnancy, which influences the rest of the signs and discomfort. We explain what it consists of.
However, when the period arrives, it is evident that pregnancy has not occurred. The truth is that, as many specialists believe, the experience of feeling pregnant when trying to conceive is not something exceptionally uncommon.
Understanding a little more about false pregnancy (Pseudocytosis)
False pregnancy consists of a woman’s belief that she is pregnant, along with the appearance of the typical symptoms of pregnancy. Psychological pregnancy is rare, between 1 and 6 in every 22,000 pregnancies. It is not yet entirely clear what the causes are and the mechanism by which it occurs. Although it seems that it may be a combination of psychological and hormonal factors. It can occur in both people and animals and is not a new phenomenon, but there have been cases in ancient times. For example, as early as 300 BC Hippocrates described 12 women who believed they were pregnant.
This is what happens with the so-called false pregnancy, or simply pseudocyesis. It consists of the belief that you are expecting a baby when, in reality, you are not genuinely pregnant. Women who have pseudocyesis often have many, if not all, of pregnancy symptoms, evidently, except the real fetus, which does not exist precisely because she was not originally pregnant. It is arguably a problem similar to Couvade Syndrome, experienced by men, who tend to develop many of the same symptoms as their pregnant partners, such as morning sickness, back pain, and even weight gain.
What are the causes?
Some experts believe that these false pregnancies occur in women who desperately want to become pregnant. Nor is it uncommon for women with psychological pregnancies to experience these false symptoms coinciding with the pregnancy of a friend or relative.
Women at higher risk of false pregnancy are those who:
- They are in their late forties or over and have tried for years to get pregnant without success due to fertility problems.
- Women who have suffered an abortion or have lost a child.
- Women who, although not emotionally unstable in general, are extremely sensitive when it comes to pregnancy.
However, it seems that hormones also play an essential role, as there is an increase in the levels of certain hormones, such as estrogens and prolactin, which can cause physical symptoms such as an enlarged abdomen and milk production.
Therefore, a particular emotional state may alter hormonal levels that end up causing the appearance of symptoms similar to those of pregnancy. According to Dr., Anxiety can be one of these emotional states involved because stress can influence the ovarian cycle.
Symptoms of psychological pregnancy
The symptoms of psychological pregnancy are similar to the signs of a normal pregnancy.
- Lack of ovulation and therefore lack of menstruation: the brain triggers the decrease in hormones that stimulate female ovulation.
- Increase in the belly’s size: caused by the enlargement of the abdominal muscles and the woman’s position. The difference from actual pregnancy is that there is no navel inversion.
- Changes in the breasts: increased turgor, secretion of colostrum and milk, pigmentation, and increased mammary areola.
- Subjective sensation of movements of the baby in the womb.
- Softening of the cervix.
- Weight gain.
- Nausea, heartburn, and typical pregnancy discomfort
How is a false pregnancy diagnosed and treated?
In the case of pseudocyesis, it is clear that no embryo, fetus, or baby will appear on the ultrasound so that the heartbeat will not be heard either.
But this does not mean that the doctor cannot find some physical changes that commonly occur during a normal pregnancy, such as a softened cervix or an enlarged uterus. We must bear in mind that sometimes the brain misinterprets the signals, and there is an increase in the specific hormones of pregnancy, the main “culprits” for the appearance of the rest of symptoms and changes.
Regarding treatment, when women believe they are pregnant without really being pregnant, especially for several months, it can be excruciating and annoying to discover that they are not pregnant. However, according to experts, showing a woman proof that she is not pregnant, such as an ultrasound scan, becomes one of the most successful ways to end a false pregnancy.
On the other hand, if the woman also experiences physical symptoms such as menstrual irregularity, it is possible to prescribe medications. At the same time, if problems related to psychological instability arise, psychotherapy can be beneficial.Professional help and understanding of her environment and getting in touch with other people who have been through the same will help the woman understand the origin of the disorder and overcome the psychological pregnancy.