A Gynecologist is concerned with fertility, prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care of a pregnant woman or one who wants to have a baby. A woman who believes that she is pregnant would consult an Obstetrician and Gynecologist. Only after physical exam, certain blood tests and a pelvic ultrasound, the diagnosis of pseudocyesis can be made. Such a situation must be handled carefully and the patient often must be referred to a mental health professional.
2. How is pseudocyesis different from malingering?
In malingering, the woman knows very well that she is not pregnant and is acting out to seek some benefit. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy are not seen in this case. But a woman with pseudocyesis truly believes that she is pregnant and would be upset to know that she is not. Physical and physiological changes in the body related to pregnancy, like tender nipples, enlarged breasts, softening of cervix, etc., are also seen.
3. Is a false-positive result of urine pregnancy test same as pseudocyesis?
In pseudocyesis, urine pregnancy test shows a negative result. A false positive urine pregnancy test can be due to other conditions like cancer of the uterus, which stimulates the brain to produce hormones similar to pregnancy hormones.
4. Does the woman have regular menstrual cycle if she believes that she is pregnant?
No. Menstrual cycle ceases during the period of pseudocyesis. After the diagnosis of pseudocyesis the doctor can attempt to induced normal menstruation by giving the hormone progesterone.
5. Can pseudocyesis occur in men?
In an ancient ritual associated with childbirth, the father lies down in the bed with his wife when she is in labor and he mimics the pain of labor. This is done to draw away the attention of evil spirits from the child being born. This behaviour is voluntary and conscious. But in peusdocyesis or Couvade syndrome, the patient unconsciously believes that he is pregnant and is going to give birth to a child.
6. Can pseudocyesis be found in children?
Yes. Some cases of psuedocyesis or false pregnancy in children have been reported. Hypothesized precipitating factors include sexually abuse, physical abuse or negligence.