Pseudocyesis is a condition in which an individual has the delusion that they are pregnant and thereby engages in behavior consistent with a woman who is expecting a baby. The disorder exhibits itself as imagined physical or physiological changes within an individual, such as excessive weight gain or abdominal enlargement, even though the person is not actually pregnant. Although pseudocyesis usually occurs in women, there have been cases reported within men.
Several theories address pseudocyesis, with the most accepted theory being a result of conflict. The theory states that desire for pregnancy typically creates an internal struggle and endocrine changes that cause pseudocyesis. There were multiple studies conducted to see if there any correlations between the onset of pseudocyesis and different negative life events happening at the time of its onset. The second theory is the wish-fulfillment theory. This, as you may know, states that the body creates a false belief in pregnancy because it wants to fulfill a wish. The last one is the depression theory, which claims that pseudocyesis may be initiated by neuroendocrine changes associated with a major depressive disorder (note: see Depression).
Much evidence is behind many of the key facts found in these theories. One theory or a combination of them could be used to treat some patients, especially those who have pseudocyesis. Many different factors may contribute to any given cause and effect relationship with this condition.
Pseudocyesis is defined as the delusion of being pregnant. This can be harmful to those who suffer from it by associating the phenomenon with physical problems and sometimes worse, considering suicide. In developing countries like Africa, however, this appears to be much more common (1 – 6 cases per 22,000 live births) but go largely unreported. One survey from the 1890s found that 156 cases of pseudocyesis were reported; this amounts to only 42 cases reported between 1959 and 1979 in England, which suggests a dramatic reduction in patients reporting these symptoms now that we have modern medicine and better understanding of mental health issues such as these. It is important to recognize when suffering from pseudocyesis can lead to bad decisions or harm yourself or others!
Symptoms of pseudocyesis usually last from several months up to several years and can start as early as 6 or 79 years old. Apart from the average age being 33 years, 80% of patients with pseudocyesis are married, 14.6% are unmarried, and 2.3% are widows. Pseudocyesis commonly takes place in individuals who have been married more than once before – double-wedding rings, anyone?
It’s becoming increasingly common for women to blame their husbands for things that result in the loss of pregnancies. In certain countries, it has even been known for women to start running around town with their bellies exposed yelling “this is why I lost my baby!” without ever having actually suffered from a pregnancy. Unfortunately, as more couples are reporting on cases like these, men are becoming more vulnerable than ever before to lawsuits and claims of domestic violence.
Pseudocyesis is considered a simulation of symptoms or a mental disorder. While pseudopregnancy is actually a medically diagnosed issue, there have been cases where it happens as a way of coping with personal issues – hence the psychosomatic disorder link.
Research done on the female gender testifies to their body’s extraordinary capabilities, particularly their mental and physical processes. There are several tests to determine pregnancies, which include X-Ray examination, blood test analysis, sonagrams & ultra sound, etc. In some cases however certain anomalies may arise in these tests where a woman comes out positive for being pregnant despite her not carrying an unborn child in her womb. Pseudocyesis is said to be one such anomaly, being diagnosed when all results come out normal and a doctor or medical examiner is unable to find an embryo in the uterus or an abnormality that would result from a pregnancy . The symptoms of pseudocyesis still remain unclear but researchers have concluded some reasons for its occurrence like one’s psychological state of mind and other factors influencing body hormonal balance.
Pseudocyesis is a heterogeneous condition and has no one unifying cause. There isn’t any clear demographic or sociocultural indicator for a population at risk. Its most successful form of treatment includes revealing to the patient he or she is not pregnant, counseling the patient and educating them, and treating any underlying depression that may exist. Successful treatment has been described as six-month symptom-free period.