What Is Hysterical Pregnancy?

Hysterical Pregnancy
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Do you know a woman can think she is pregnant while she is not? Not all pregnancies end with the anticipated baby.

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This condition exists and it is known as Hysterical pregnancy. It is also called phantom, spurphantom, Spurious Pregnancy, Pseudocyesis (medical name), or false pregnancy.

In this condition, a woman believes she is pregnant because she is exhibiting all the signs of pregnancy. Common symptoms of women with hysterical pregnancy experience are ceased menstruation, nausea, and abdominal swelling.

Although these symptoms are real, some medical experts are of the opinion that it is psychosomatic. Also, some medical conditions can mimic the symptoms of pregnancy.

Note that this is different from simulated pregnancy. In hysterical pregnancy, the woman is truly convinced she is pregnant by the signs and symptoms she feels.

She truly experiences all the signs that are consistent with pregnancy. In simulated pregnancy, a woman knows fully well that she is not pregnant but pretends to be.

The best way to know if a pregnancy is real, fake, or simulated is to go for a pregnancy test. In the past when testing techniques were absent or not as advanced as what we have today, doctors too were confused.

This often led to the misdiagnosis of pregnancy by doctors. A pregnancy test can be conducted at home using a test strip or other testing gadgets.

This phenomenon can also happen to men. In the case of men, it is called sympathetic pregnancy or couvade syndrome.

Table of Contents

Causes of Hysterical Pregnancy

The exact cause isn’t known but most health experts are of the opinion that it is as a result of a woman’s deep desire to have a child.

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They see it as a figment of her imagination that she is pregnant when conception hasn’t taken place.

This is also a cause, we can’t discard it as our thoughts and emotions can affect the body in many ways. However, they are still pathological bases for false pregnancy.

Psychosomatic causes

It can be termed psychosomatic if the cause is mental or emotional. This thought or feeling can give rise to very real symptoms that are physical and tangible.

Women who have a strong desire to be pregnant usually fall under this cause of false pregnancy. Women who are also afraid of pregnancy may fall experience this as well.

Desiring pregnancy so much or desperately trying to avoid pregnancy can cause a significant inner conflict that can cause hormonal disturbances.

Also, women who want to get pregnant can misinterpret certain symptoms or exaggerate their symptoms. This also can lead to hysterical pregnancy.

Stress can also mess up your hormones and cause this. Just know that the mind is a very powerful programmer of the body. It can bring what you think or what you fear most into manifestation.

Hormonal Imbalance

Abnormal high levels of hormones can induce this condition and in this case, the pituitary is also affected.

Stress, wrong diet, and an unhealthy lifestyle can trigger hormonal imbalance. Affected women need to correct hormonal imbalance and get rid of the root cause.

The right diet and a healthy lifestyle should be imbibed, dietary toxins should be eliminated. All the risk factors for hormonal imbalance should be eliminated.

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Signs and Symptoms of Hysterical Pregnancy

The signs and symptoms of spurious pregnancy are as real as that of a real pregnancy. This is why this condition can be very misleading.

50 to 90% of women affected by this condition experience an absence of menstruation and this is one of the core signs of pregnancies.

Aside from ceased menstruation (amenorrhea), they also experience the following:

  • Morning sickness or nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain
  • Expansion of the abdomen (60 to 90% of cases)
  • Bloating
  • Reported cases of fetal movement (50 to 75% of cases0
  • In some cases, false labor can occur (1%)
  • Changes to the breast such as pigmentation and size
  • Inverted belly button
  • Lactation
  • Softening of the cervix
  • Enlargement of the uterus
  • Increased appetite

Treatment Options and Prevention Tips

Counseling

This is one of the first steps of tackling false pregnancy since most health experts believe it is mental or emotional.

The woman is made to undergo counseling or some forms of psychotherapy to help get to the root cause of the condition.

This helps in eliminating the fear or strong emotions to have a baby. A scan result (Ultrasound) is also presented to show and convince the woman that she is not pregnant.

Medications

Sometimes, especially in cases where a hormonal imbalance is present, medications are given to correct this.

Drugs can also be given to reduce or relieve the symptoms the woman is experiencing.

Hypnosis

Those who seek alternative help can use this to free their mind of fear or strong desires. A specialist or hypnotherapist has to carry this out.

Purgatives

One of the signs of false pregnancy is an extended abdomen and most health experts believe that this is caused by urine, feces, fat, or gas.

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Taking purgatives, cleaning the colon by colon cleansing or enemas cab help relieve this congestion and reduce the size of the abdomen.

Massage

A whole-body massage will help reduce the symptoms. If possible, also meet a Chiropractor.

This will not only relieve the symptoms but also improve your overall well-being.

Ensure you get these done regularly until the symptoms go. This is very good if combined with psychotherapy and other forms of treatment.

Opioids

These drugs are used to treat pains and relax the body. They can treat moderate to severe pain, cough, and diarrhea.

These drugs are addictive, that is one of the disadvantages of using them and death is one of the effects of an overdose.

Since most health experts are of the opinion that hysterical pregnancy is mental and common among women with psychological instability, psychotherapy and any of the following treatment methods will work for them.

Aside from this, affected women have to pick up a healthy diet, lifestyle, and try to have a balanced thought/view about life. Family and friends also have to show her support at this time.

Hysterical Pregnancy
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Faith Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.
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