Do you imagine that you’re pregnant ? Menstruation stops, morning sickness, and a bloated stomach seem like symptoms of pregnancy, but those may also be symptoms of a phantom pregnancy. That is because false pregnancy includes all pregnancy symptoms, except for the fetus’s real presence in the womb.
Pregnancy can be an exciting time for parents. Sometimes, however, the pregnancy does not end as expected – with the birth of a baby. In rare cases, a woman imagines she is pregnant until she discovers that all of the symptoms were not caused by a real pregnancy but by completely other causes within the symptoms of a phantom pregnancy.
What Is Phantom Pregnancy?
Phantom pregnancy – also known as “False pregnancy” or “Pseudocyesis”- is when a woman believes that she expects a baby when in reality, it is not. Women, who experience symptoms of a phantom pregnancy, develop all or most of the symptoms characteristic of pregnancy, except for – the actual presence of the fetus.
What’s the difference between a Real Pregnancy and a False Pregnancy?
There is no home way to distinguish between them; even a home pregnancy analysis through urine is not absolute. It is possible for a change in the pregnancy hormone’s secretion, So phantom pregnancy does not correspond to positive urine tests (urine tests reveal a hormone called B-HCG).
This hormone is usually produced by the placenta and is present in the urine after the tenth day of vaccination. So it will not be found here because there is no placenta). even a vaginal medical examination shows the softness of the cervix and the enlargement of the uterus. The decision in this matter is to conduct a wave examination, Ultrasound on the uterus, and a fetal heart rate monitor.
How Common is Phantom Pregnancy?
Phantom pregnancy is a very rare phenomenon, with a prevalence ranging from one to six out of every 22,000 births in the US. Women of reproductive age comprise the majority of pseudocyesis occurrences. About 80% of women who experience pseudocyesis are married. False pregnancies are more common in societies with specific cultures and religions, particularly in areas where there is a high degree of pressure for women to have multiple children and for those children to be male.
What Causes Phantom Pregnancy?
Although the specific causes of this phenomenon are unknown yet, doctors believe that psychological factors can deceive the body, making a woman feel that pregnancy exists.
For example, when a woman yearns for pregnancy, a condition that may be caused by infertility, frequent miscarriage, approaching “menopause,” or because of the desire to marry, her body may show some pregnancy symptoms such as swelling in the abdomen, increase in the size of the breasts and even Feeling the movement of the fetus in the uterus.
A woman’s mind mistakenly interprets these symptoms as signs of pregnancy, which leads to the release of pregnancy hormones (such as estrogen and prolactin) that cause symptoms of a real pregnancy.
Some researchers in this field believe that poverty, lack of education, the occurrence of sexual abuse in childhood as well as problems in the marital relationship – can be a trigger for the event of symptoms of a phantom pregnancy.
Symptoms Of Phantom Pregnancy?
Some false pregnancy symptoms intersect with the symptoms of a real pregnancy and make a woman mistaken for her pregnancy. In the past, it was easy for a woman to be deceived into imagining that she was pregnant, but with the emergence of the Internet and its role in education, and the spread of laboratory analyzes, women in our time can make sure of the validity of her pregnancy or not.
The most prominent symptoms of phantom pregnancy:
- Menopause: is a strong reason for a woman to imagine that she is pregnant. There are other reasons for this symptom, such as lack or increase of hormones, anxiety, and stress that women have because of their urgent need for pregnancy, pressure from husband on her, and bearing the reason for failure to achieve the dream of motherhood.
- Nausea: The occurrence of nausea is one of the most common signs of pregnancy. It may be one of the symptoms of a phantom pregnancy, as it is possible that a woman has a stomach problem or suffers from colon and stomach ulcers that cause nausea and vomiting.
- Significant weight gain and large flatulence.
- Breast enlargement and pain in them.
- A change in the shape and color of the nipples, or drops of milk from them. The reason for this may be something other than pregnancy. The cause may be an increase in the hormone prolactin.
- A feeling of an intra-abdominal movement is also a symptom of a phantom pregnancy, as the fetus’s movement is similar to a colon movement, especially if the mother suffers from irritable bowel syndrome.
- Extreme fatigue, dizziness, and fainting are all of the most common symptoms of pregnancy, and the same is true for phantom pregnancy.
- Testing and diagnosis of a phantom pregnancy,
To determine whether a woman is, in fact, suffering from a phantom pregnancy, the doctor usually evaluates her symptoms, conducts a gynecological examination and an ultrasound of the uterus. These tests are performed during a normal pregnancy with the aim of feeling and seeing the fetus. In a phantom pregnancy, the fetus does not appear on the ultrasound machine’s screen, and the heartbeat is not heard. However, in some cases of a phantom pregnancy, the doctor may find some changes that occur during a real pregnancy, such as an enlarged uterus and softening of the cervix.
It is essential that other medical conditions, in addition to phantom pregnancy, may lead to pregnancy-like symptoms, including ectopic pregnancy, morbid obesity, and even cancer. To determine the phenomenon of a phantom pregnancy, the doctor must deny the existence of any of these cases through investigations.
Treatment Of Phantom Pregnancy?
When a woman imagines she is pregnant, especially if this belief persists for several months, revealing this error of her faith can be very difficult for her. Therefore, the doctor should inform her of the news as gently as possible and suggest that she receive psychological support to be able to recover from the disappointment caused by the phantom pregnancy phenomenon.
phantom pregnancy is treated at two levels:
- The psychological level where the woman is psychologically supported to overcome the trauma resulting from the discovery of her non-pregnancy and overcome the psychological causes of a phantom pregnancy.
- The physical level as a woman is given hormonal doses that regulate her menstrual cycle and help it come down regularly.