Pregnancy is the most beautiful and overwhelming experience for every couple. However, there’s a condition where you will feel pregnant when you are not. This condition called pseudocyesis or false pregnancy is still prevalent in recent times.

This is one of the most gripping cases of psychological depression wherein a woman’s brain and body trick her into conceiving while she is not. History has an interesting example, Mary Tudor, the first queen of England, who suffered phantom pregnancy more than once in her lifetime. 

What Happens When Someone Is Falsely Pregnant?


Pseudocyesis or false pregnancy, typically mimics every symptom of pregnancy including vomiting, breast tenderness, enlarged belly, instant weight gain, tiredness, etc. It leads them to believe that they are really pregnant, but there is no fetus. However, in certain cases, it is claimed that women can feel the fetus’s movements in their stomach. Ultimately, it turns out that it is merely a medical condition that forces the woman’s brain and body to believe and act like she is pregnant. 

What Causes False Pregnancy? 


False pregnancy is a very rare condition to date, it affects only about 6 in every 22000 pregnant women in the US. Phantom pregnancy is different from a delayed pregnancy. The latter occurs in women’s mental state, making them unstable, as part of their psychotic symptoms will come to take place. The fixed false belief that the woman is pregnant persists despite all reasoning and evidence to the contrary.

The hypothalamus is supposed to be involved in the neuroendocrine processes that give rise to this condition. This may lead to hormone alterations which can regulate the functioning of the reproductive organs, and result in an ovulatory cycle as it will increase responsiveness to the hormones. 


Medical experts are not entirely sure about the major causes of false pregnancy but they think psychological and many hormonal factors may contribute. It can be considered as a somatic symptom disorder. 

Some of the reasons a person may develop a false pregnancy are:

  • Long-time desire to become pregnant.
  • Several miscarriages.
  • Infertility.
  • Fear of becoming pregnant. 
  • Loss of a child.
  • depression and anxiety.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Emotional breakdown. 

Out of all the above causes, the most common and well-documented cause is very simple: a woman desires to get pregnant so badly that she mentally convinces herself she is pregnant. Since there can be many reasons, why she is not getting pregnant, including infertility and menopause. In fact, when a woman suffers from a false pregnancy, she will experience symptoms similar to a regular pregnancy, such as morning sickness, frequent urination, sore breasts, and eventually a swollen belly, giving her the appearance of being pregnant. The only difference is that there is no real baby, but possibly the feeling of being pregnant and having a baby. 

What Can Cause False Positive Pregnancy Tests? 


Since the false pregnancy mimics every detail of pregnancy, a doctor must ensure that it is a fake pregnancy and not a real one. The tests for false pregnancy start with a physical examination including a pelvic exam to determine if there has been any type of conception involved. Then, a urinalysis is completed to back up the findings. A urinalysis will usually come back negative if the woman is suffering from an illness like cancer that releases the same hormones as pregnancy. 


Another test for false pregnancy is an ultrasound, which will determine if the pregnancy is true or false. This will show the event of a false that there is no baby but in some cases, the ultrasound may show the softening of the cervix, just as it would in a true pregnancy. Moreover, an ultrasound is the only test that will prove 100% or disprove a pregnancy. 

Moreover, several conditions may cause a false positive pregnancy test, including tropho-blast, malignancy, nephrotic syndrome, tubo-ovarian and paraneoplastic syndromes, etc. 

How Long Does a False Pregnancy Last? 

The false pregnancy symptoms can last for almost nine months, or even for several years. A small percentage of women with false pregnancies will arrive at the doctor with what feels like labor pain. 

How to Treat False Pregnancy? 


Psychiatric therapy and support groups are a great help to make a woman realize that she is falsely pregnant and to bring her out of her depressive thoughts. Apart from this, doctors also will diagnose if other medical illnesses such as cancer might have mimicked pregnancy. 

False pregnancy does exist but has become rare compared to the olden days. So, it is all about witnessing someone suffering from a situation like this and ensuring they get the medical attention they require at the earliest.