Your belly grows, your period stops, your breasts grow and tighten. You even feel sick in the morning. Clearly, you are pregnant! Congratulations – but have you already taken a test?
All these signs of pregnancy can also occur in a false pregnancy, when you are not really pregnant. Physical things can be behind it, but mostly psychological reasons are responsible for it.
A classic example is the long-standing desire to have children, which simply does not come true. Only a few women need treatment after the false pregnancy.
Read more here about what a false pregnancy is, how it manifests itself and how you can safely tell if you are really pregnant.
Table of contents
False Pregnancy: What Is It?
A false pregnancy differs from a normal pregnancy in that there is actually no reason for the symptoms that occur.
You really think you are pregnant, but no embryo is developing inside you. Nevertheless, you develop all the signs of pregnancy. Only the test at the gynecologist gives a sure diagnosis: not pregnant.
If the ultrasound examination does not show any signs of the ovary and your hCG level is elevated, then it is a false pregnancy.
In Latin this has several names: Pseudogravidity, Pseudocyesis, or Graviditas imagination. In former times it was also called wish neurosis because often unfulfilled wishes are the real reasons. However, you yourself are not aware of this.
Your subconscious takes control over certain physical processes. You could also say that you are deceiving yourself. But how can something like this happen? This requires a closer look at the reasons that cause a woman to do this.
Only very rarely do hormones go crazy for no apparent reason. Much more often, something from the past comes to bear on the false pregnancy, especially the desire to have a child.
However, one or more miscarriages can also fuel fears. Wishful thinking alone, however, is not enough for the signs of pregnancy.
Permanent preoccupation with the subject and feelings such as shame, grief or a sense of one’s own inadequacy are added.
False Pregnancy: The Reasons
Physical: Hormones Out Of Control
This is about the important hormones progestin and estrogen, which fuel pregnancy symptoms.
Even if it’s very rare, their levels in your body can suddenly increase even though you’re not really pregnant. They provide the real signs of pregnancy.
All other physically similar symptoms, such as ovarian cyst symptoms, are not actually false pregnancy! This is because only some, but not all, of the signs of pregnancy show up in the process.
In most cases, the woman is also aware that she is not really pregnant.
This Is Often Mistaken For A False Pregnancy
Only when the doctor has ruled out the following reasons is there a real false pregnancy.
- Wind egg = the facilities are there, the amniotic cavity is developing, but the embryo is not.
- Dead embryo in the early phase of the (undetected) pregnancy.
- Ectopic pregnancy = fertilized egg grows in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.
- Cyst ovarian symptoms = consist mainly in the absence of menstruation.
Mental Reasons For A False Pregnancy
If it is not a physical cause in the type of cyst ovary symptoms, then psychological reasons are responsible.
In the first place, there is an unfulfilled and therefore increasingly strong desire for a child. The older a woman gets, the more she feels time running out. This alone can be enough to form the signs of pregnancy.
So behind it all:
- Strong desire to have children.
- Fears, traumas after one or more miscarriages.
- Feelings of guilt due to past actions, for example abortion.
False Pregnancy And HCG Value
This value provides clarity: it is responsible for a test at the doctor’s coming out negative: the hCG value increases when you are really pregnant.
The abbreviation stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, formed since the beginning of pregnancy. It can be detected in the blood or urine and is a pregnancy hormone formed in the placenta.
It is normally detectable in the blood nine days after conception. In urine, however, it can only be detected two weeks later.
Infertility treatment often involves the use of hCG because it increases the chances of conception: for example, it promotes ovulation.
Am I Pregnant For Real Or Just For Appearances? The Signs At A Glance
A false pregnant woman often does not recognize this herself: The signs of pregnancy differ in nothing from normal signs of pregnancy. Here, therefore, is an overview of how the apparent pregnancy of an affected person presents itself.
- You are convinced that you are pregnant.
- Sometimes you even feel the baby’s movements.
- Your mood fluctuates strongly.
- You observe all the physical signs as in a real pregnancy.
- Morning sickness, larger breasts, milk pouring in, girth increasing.
- Your weight increases.
How To Tell That You Are Not Pregnant – Possible Other Signs
- Your uterus may grow.
- Backache, headache.
As you can see, it is not so easy to distinguish false pregnancy from the classic signs of pregnancy.
False Pregnancy: How Often Does It Happen?
It is difficult to say, because the relevant statistics are lacking. Experts believe that it occurs quite rarely.
The reason is that very soon after it occurs, it can be cleared up, quite unlike in the past. An older article in the New York Times gives some clues, in which a concrete figure appears, but only for the USA.
According to the article, there are up to six false pregnancies for every 22,000 real pregnancies.
Aren’t Fake Pregnant Women Just Faking It?
Absolutely not! In a false pregnancy, the woman really thinks she is pregnant because all the signs point to it.
With a fake pregnancy, on the other hand, the woman is aware that she is not really pregnant. She only deceives her environment, but does not believe it herself.
The reasons for this are also completely different. The pretended expectant mother proceeds very skillfully and supports her external image by certain measures, which correspond to the respective development of the pregnancy, for example, a larger belly with approaching birth.
False pregnancy In Cats: Does It Exist?
Also in the animal kingdom we know the phenomenon that a female shows the signs of pregnancy, but is not really pregnant. However, then it is called false pregnancy.
It has been proven among others in dogs, horses and cows.
Who Can Get A False Pregnancy?
There are certain groups of people who are more sensitive to it than others. These are women who are in a certain phase of life or have already passed it.
- Unfulfilled desire to have children.
- Older women in or beyond menopause.
- Women living alone.
False Pregnancy As A Psychological Disorder
This is nothing to be ashamed of because your subconscious is acting here! So usually the psyche is already involved. Either it is about a strong unfulfilled desire to have children.
But also fear of loss can lead to psychological problems, which is understandable after a stillbirth or miscarriage. The reasons always have one thing in common: they are not clear to you.
So you don’t know whether I’m pregnant for real or for appearances’ sake To find out, there is only one thing you can do – take a test!
How To Distinguish A False Pregnancy From A Real One
A normal test from a drugstore or pharmacy can provide initial clarity.
However, only ultrasound is able to examine your body thoroughly. Both tests do not react to the false pregnancy. So you can be a thousand times convinced of your pregnancy, your test tells you the truth.
TIP Even if you cannot prove pregnancy with a self-bought pregnancy test, go to the gynecologist anyway! Behind the symptoms there may also be an undetected physical disorder.
An excess of prolactin leads to certain symptoms, as does a cyst. Diseases in the gastrointestinal tract, on the other hand, cause nausea.
In combination with flatulence, this comes very close to a false pregnancy.
How Does It Go Away?
Once the diagnosis has been made, everything often goes very quickly: Normally, your hormone balance regulates itself quickly. This only takes a few days.
How Often Can You Have A False Pregnancy?
Theoretically, again and again. Some women experience something like this more often, as one affected woman describes here. If the affected person does not manage to get her feelings and desires under control herself, she needs professional help!
False Pregnancy: Treatment
Further treatment then goes in the direction of psychotherapy, for example if a couple has already strongly adjusted to the child. Then it is actually a loss that not everyone can cope with.
Other reasons for false pregnancy treatment: What lies behind the desire for pregnancy? How did it become so strong that it displaced everything else?
If someone keeps going to the gynecologist despite clearly negative findings, a psychological disorder can no longer be ruled out.
Frequently changing gynecologists is also a sign that may require treatment.
So if you have great difficulty accepting the findings, you should consider seeking professional help.
This Has Helped Others: Options For False Pregnancy Treatment
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga.
- Professional counseling: gynecologist or counseling centers, such as Pro Familia.
Conclusion: False Pregnancy: Not Common, But Stressful!
Although it is rare nowadays, a false pregnancy always puts a strain on the psyche. The reasons are manifold, but more often psychological than physical.
Then the subconscious takes over: Although the affected person is not aware of it, her body physically prepares for a birth.
Soon, the normal signs of pregnancy appear, from the absence of menstruation, to morning sickness, to a growing belly. Then it becomes difficult to tell if someone is really pregnant.
At the latest during the medical examination, a gynecologist provides clarity in terms of false pregnancy: Here, the pregnancy hormone hCG is missing.
However, the gynecologist also rules out physical problems, so he clarifies any ovarian cyst symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms disappear quickly afterward. Nevertheless, especially in the case of an unfulfilled desire to have children, the situation is difficult for the woman.
That is why many a woman needs treatment by experts after a false pregnancy. Advice and help are offered by doctors, psychotherapists and other family counseling centers.