Mental Health Monday–I didn’t know I wasn’t pregnant

So I bet most people who have cable or satellite TV have seen commercials for a program I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. Well guess what? There is a condition, called pseudocyesis, or false pregnancy, where women believe they are pregnant when they aren’t. Interestingly, it can also occur in other animals, commonly dogs, cats, and mice.

In 300 BC, Hippocrates documented 12 cases where women thought they were pregnant and weren’t. Mary I, Queen of England experienced false pregnancy TWICE!! (Thanks, Wikipedia, for the history lesson!)

False pregnancy presents just like a normal pregnancy would. Because the endocrine system (the organs that secrete hormones) is involved, the woman undergoes real physical changes. Her abdomen expands, her period stops, and she can even experience “quickening” or the sensation that a baby is moving. Other signs and symptoms include breast tenderness, labor pains, and softening of the cervix.

The direct cause is not known, but a majority of cases have a strong psychological component. (Isn’t it amazing what the mind can do?)

So, how do we determine if the woman is really pregnant or if she’s experiencing pseudocyesis? Check a pregnancy test.

Often, treatment includes doing an ultrasound to “prove” to the woman that she is, in fact, not pregnant. She would also likely be referred to mental health treatment for support and therapy.

As always, the information in this post is for WRITING PURPOSES ONLY and is NOT to be construed as medical treatment or advice.

Be sure to check out Lydia’s post on Medical Monday!!!