phantom pregnancy

At some point of your life, you may have heard about something called phantom pregnancy.

If you ever thought it was a myth, sorry to tell you that you were wrong. As unbelievable as it may sound, this affliction, also known as false pregnancy or pseudocyesis, is very uncommon, but real! Have we sparked your curiosity? Well, if you want to find out what it actually is and what it's caused by, don't miss our special approach to the issue in the following article.

 

Phantom pregnancy: I want to be a mum

Phantom pregnancy is usually caused by an intense desire to become a mother. There are a lot of reasons why a woman can become obsessed with wanting to have a baby; for instance, infertility, fear of menopause or, even, having sexual intercourse at an early age (and without 'playing' safe) can sometimes lead to anxiety and provoke a false pregnancy.

Basically, when that happens, your body activates its mechanisms as if you had conceived. Your hormones go haywire and you start noticing physiological effects that are very similar to pregnancy symptoms. It's a temporary affliction, but it can last from a few weeks (which is more common) to an entire pregnancy period (which is extremely rare).

 

Phantom pregnancy: It's more than a feeling

Suffering from a phantom pregnancy can be really tough. It has a psychological component, the conclusive thought of being pregnant no matter what, that results in physical symptoms. In other words, most of the time it's a psychosomatic process. Some of them are literally shocking, since they could belong to what we would expect from a normal pregnancy. That's why, initially, isn't very easy to identify (your period will clear it up, though there are extreme cases in which women even stop ovulating!).

Take a look at the most common symptoms of a false pregnancy:

  • Grown belly: you aren't carrying a baby, but your tricky body does think so. The distension in your abdominal muscles could make you get a bump.

  • Lack of menstruation: convinced of your pregnancy, your brain may decrease the production of the hormones that rule ovulation. Once this stops, you won't have your period.

  • Bigger breasts: another typical side effect of a pregnant woman that you may undergo during phantom pregnancy. Your boobs get larger and perkier, and they can even release colostrum (prebreast milk)!

  • Heartburn and nausea

  • Gaining weight

  • Feeling baby kicks in your stomach, due to a subjective sensation

Also, there are weird afflictions that could interrupt your periods, such as ovarian tumours.

 

Phantom pregnancy: The ultrasound, your best medicine

How do you tell a woman who thinks of herself as a future mother that she isn't actually pregnant? The doctor will be leading with a very delicate issue when it comes to pseudocyesis. The first thing you should do to treat this problem is have a home pregnancy test. In some cases, a negative will be enough to resolve all your doubts, but not always. Phantom pregnancy is so unpredictable that it may even surprise you with a positive answer in the test. The rising level of your hormones can also affect gonadotropine, better known as pregnancy hormone, in blood or urine tests.

Considering this information, the best way to get rid of any concerns is by having an ultrasound. They never lie! If there's no pregnancy, you'll know right away. But, of course, this isn't usually enough to overcome false pregnancy. This is, mainly, a psychological disorder that should be analised by an expert in this field. The expert will help you find the origin (often a trauma, a desire or a fear) of such an uncommon problem. Once spotted, it shouldn't be hard for you to get over phantom pregnancy.