Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Pseudocyesis is a condition in which a woman believes that she is pregnant and even apparently gets all the symptoms of pregnancy. The only thing missing is the baby. Pseudocyesis in humans is less common, and may sometimes be purely psychological. It is generally estimated that pseudocyesis is caused due to changes in the Endocrine system of the body, leading to the secretion of hormones which translate into physical changes similar to those during pregnancy.

Pseudocyesis is a psychological condition which occurs when a woman is either desperate for a child, or is overwhelmed by fears that she may be pregnant. It is the result of a delicate mind-body relationship and is proof of the degree to which the mind is able to control the body. An intense desire for a child or a deep depression triggers the pituitary gland into producing elevated hormones which mimic the hormone changes of real pregnancy.

This condition arises mainly when,

    Women with infertility who have been trying for a child for a long time.

  • Women who have recently suffered miscarriages.

  • Women who are afraid of an unwanted pregnancy, for example, a rape victim.

  • Women who have suffered an incestuous relationship.

The rate of pseudocyesis has declined significantly in the past century. In the 1940s, there was one occurrence for approximately every 250 pregnancies. This rate has since dropped to between one and six occurrences for every 22,000 births.


Many women suffering from pseudocyesis feel apparent fetal movement. This movement is due to the movement of the intestines bloated with excessive gas.Other symptoms like nausea and vomiting are psychosomatic in nature - which means that the body responds to believes and thoughts present in the mind.Many Healthcare professionals can be deceived by the symptoms associated with pseudocyesis. Research shows that 18% of women with pseudocyesis were at one time diagnosed as pregnant by medical professionals.


The diagnosis of pseudocyesis is extremely difficult, especially at the beginning of a pseudocyesis. The uterus will remain normal in size and successive pregnancy tests, if performed, will be negative. As the pseudocyesis proceeds, a marked increase in weight may occur, together with abdominal and breast enlargement, but the uterus will not enlarge nor will the breasts show active signs of pregnancy. None of the other physical signs of pregnancy will develop and all tests for pregnancy will be negative.

Diagnosis may be confirmed if,

    No fetal heart sound can be detected.

  • Ultrasound shows an empty uterus.

  • Pregnancy test is usually negative although rarely, there may be a faintly positive test.


The main treatment of pseudocyesis is by Psychotherapy. Most women can be convinced that they are not pregnant by showing them the ultrasound reports. But the underlying psychological problems need to be analyzed and treated by a Psychiatrist.

Other alternative methods of treatment like hypnotherapy have also been tried but may or may not be successful.

NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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