False pregnancy symptoms can be stressful, confusing, or frightening. The more you know about this topic, the easier it will be to take appropriate steps to deal with it.
False Pregnancy Symptoms: What You May Experience
The symptoms of a false pregnancy can be the same as symptoms of a genuine pregnancy. Similar to genuine pregnancies, women may experience some or all symptoms, and to varying degrees.
The most common first symptom is missing a menstrual period. Throughout a false pregnancy, a woman may have no periods at all. This is generally the first indication that she is pregnant. Women often experience nausea. While it is commonly known as morning sickness, vomiting can occur at any time of the day or night. It can affect her appetite, or her ability to retain food she has eaten. The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can cause changes in the breasts.
They can become enlarged and swollen. She can experience discomfort because of these changes. In some cases, the breasts can start to produce milk for breastfeeding a baby. If the false pregnancy continues, it will appear as if a fetus is growing. She will gain weight, and her abdomen will swell. She may even feel fetal movements, although no fetus is present. She may become thoroughly convinced that she is carrying a child. A small percentage move on to experience false labor. If false pregnancy has not been diagnosed, a woman may enter the hospital to give birth to a baby that does not exist. Approximately one percent of women with false pregnancies actually have labor pains when they believe they should deliver a baby. This is only one of the reasons pregnancies should be confirmed by a doctor.
False labor does not happen often, but it does happen. Not only are the symptoms realistic, but the woman herself is convinced she is pregnant. Whether she wants a child or does not want one, a false pregnancy can be a traumatic experience. To further complicate matters, pregnancy tests are not always accurate. While home pregnancy test kits are the least accurate, even a test at a doctor’s office or clinic can show a false-positive result. False-positive results are more common in women who believe they are pregnant. However, any women who thinks she might be pregnant should consult with her doctor. In addition to a pregnancy test, she can have other tests and counseling if necessary.
How Does A False Pregnancy Occur?
A false pregnancy does not necessarily mean a woman has mental health problems, although this can be the case in some instances. A small percentage of women with this condition are considered psychotic. One medical cause of false pregnancy symptoms is a hormonal imbalance. As her pituitary gland is responsible for producing hormones, her hormone levels can be much higher than normal. This hormonal imbalance can start the chain-reaction of false pregnancy symptoms. Hormonal imbalance can have a number of causes. It can be caused by lifestyle factors or toxins. Anxiety and stress are common causes in women who develop false pregnancy symptoms. The more anxious, stressed, or worried a woman is, the more it will affect her hormone levels.
Anxiety can be related to fear of pregnancy, childbirth, or motherhood. It can be caused by the deep desire to have a child, or the fear of having one. This anxiety and stress affects the hormones, and can result in symptoms of pregnancy.
Who Is At Risk Of False Pregnancy?
While women and girls of all ages can develop this problem, some appear to be more at risk than others. One category covers women who have not been able to conceive, and are looking at the possibility of never conceiving. The woman may feel like a failure, or feel unfulfilled, because she has not given birth to a child. A second category covers women who have strong emotions about pregnancy. Whether she desperately wants a baby or does not want one, symptoms of pregnancy can occur. It is as if her mind tricks her body into believing she is pregnant.
A third category covers women who experience miscarriage or loss of a child. Unresolved grief can be extreme enough to cause a hormonal imbalance. However, false pregnancy can occur in women with none of these risk factors, and even in young girls.
False Pregnancy Symptoms And Tests
As soon as a woman believes she is pregnant, she should see an obstetrician, a gynecologist, or her personal physician. It is generally unwise to visit a clinic for a pregnancy test. It is definitely unwise to use a home pregnancy test kit. As there are numerous factors that influence the reliability of pregnancy tests, it is best performed at a doctor’s office. The doctor or his nurse may do a blood test in addition to the urine test. The woman should have an ultrasound. If she is experiencing a false pregnancy, an ultrasound will show there is no fetus inside her uterus.
Her uterus will be its normal size because there is no pregnancy. The doctor should perform additional tests to determine the cause of her symptoms. While false pregnancy usually stems from a hormonal imbalance or psychological factors, the symptoms can also be a sign of a more serious medical condition. As an example, certain cancers of the reproductive system can result in false pregnancy symptoms.
False Pregnancy: What To Do
In a false pregnancy, the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind. It is not something friends or family members should pass off as a joke, or expect the woman to simply get over immediately. She needs support from people who care about her.
A supportive physician should take precautions concerning her physical health. It must be determined that she does not have any underlying medical issues causing the unusual symptoms. When the doctor rules out conditions such as cancer and ectopic pregnancy, tests should be performed to determine her hormone levels. There are a number of steps to take to correct this problem. Stress reduction, adequate sleep, and a healthy diet are some examples.
The psychological effects should not be dismissed. Special counseling is needed to help her understand and work through her experiences. She can also benefit from counseling for depression, anxiety, and stress. A woman who has gone through a false pregnancy should not be made to feel foolish. It is rarely a matter of malingering, and it is rarely intentional. Women who pretend to be pregnant when they know they are not have deeper problems that must be addressed.
It can take awhile to recover from this type of experience. Whether she is relieved or distressed over not being pregnant, a false pregnancy is still traumatic. Kindness, compassion, and support can go a long way toward helping her recover.
How Common Is False Pregnancy?
When false pregnancy symptoms are combined with a woman’s belief that is she pregnant, the condition is relatively rare. Recent studies show that for every 22,000 live births, there are between one and six false pregnancies. While the rate of false pregnancy has been declining in recent decades, especially among women who have no other mental health issues, it must be taken seriously because women do suffer. Statistics show the majority of women are married, and approximately one third have experienced genuine pregnancy in the past.
It affects women from all socioeconomic groups and backgrounds. It has affected women in their late seventies, and girls as young as six years of age. This often-misunderstood condition has existed for centuries. It is rare, but it is a true problem for women who experience it and the people in their lives.
Recovering From A False Pregnancy
Psychological health and physical health can reduce the risk. Women should be able to communicate openly with their partners and doctors. Women who can communicate their concerns about pregnancy can have a lower risk of developing this condition. A pregnancy test does not always provide reliable results. As false-positive results can occur for many reasons, physicians can back up results with an ultrasound, blood tests, and a thorough examination. Women who cannot accept proof that they are not pregnant should be advised to seek counseling.
In pseudocyesis, there has been no conception. There is no fetus developing within the woman’s uterus. Her body and mind can come together and lead her to believe this is not the case. She can develop all of the symptoms of pregnancy, be certain the symptoms are genuine, and even have a higher risk of a false-positive pregnancy test. The sooner she seeks help from a doctor and a counselor, the sooner she can start to recover. False pregnancy symptoms can be distressing for anyone.
It is how the woman deals with the information that there is no pregnancy that makes the difference. With assistance and support, she can return to good health. In most cases, she can eventually put this experience behind her and move ahead with her life.