What Is Pregnancy Hysteria?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2016
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Among the multiple types of hysteria, pregnancy hysteria is best described as a false pregnancy. A person suffering from this condition will experience many of the physical symptoms of pregnancy and may be thoroughly convinced that a child has been conceived, when, in fact, the symptoms are merely a psychological or hormonal affect. This condition occurs most commonly in women, but men may also experience a similar state known as sympathetic pregnancy.

Known also as spurious pregnancy or pseudocyesis, the causes of pregnancy hysteria in some may be due to obesity, cancer or a deep desire to have a child. Other causes include hormonal influxes which trigger symptoms similar to pregnancy and can even produce false-positive pregnancy tests. Researchers have also observed false pregnancy symptoms in dogs that overproduce reproductive hormones.

Frequently, the symptoms of hysteria appear shortly after intercourse, but some who have never had intercourse experience this condition due to a lack of information about the body, intercourse and pregnancy. The symptoms of spurious pregnancy closely mimic those of a real pregnancy. Many experience missed menstrual periods, nausea, breast tenderness and fatigue. In some cases, women also experience weight gain, which further convinces one that a pregnancy has occurred.


Men who exhibit sympathetic pregnancy symptoms similar to the signs of hysteria often do so after impregnating a woman. Male symptoms also include extreme fatigue, food cravings, weight gain and nausea. Some men also experience back and body aches, which are common symptoms experienced by pregnant women.

Women experiencing pregnancy hysteria are usually thoroughly convinced that a child has been conceived, which is generally what leads to a pregnancy test. Over-the-counter tests often offer negative results, but may sometimes offer false-positive results. Positive readings are likely due to a faulty testing procedure, a faulty interpretation of results or may be due to another medical condition such as the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) produced by a tumor or cancer.

Pregnancy hysteria is diagnosed after a medical examination reveals that conception has not actually occurred. Men who experience this condition do not generally believe they are pregnant, although in extreme cases of men suffering from psychosis, this may be the case. Most men, however, experience symptoms due to sympathizing with a pregnant spouse or partner. In the absence of an underlying medical condition, pregnancy hysteria symptoms in women usually subside after an official medical diagnosis has been made.


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Post 5

@literally45-- If the condition is not caused by a mental disorder, and if it's caused by sympathizing with a partner, I don't think that's strange. I think it actually shows how much the husband cares for his wife. It's almost as if he wants to to take away some of the responsibility and tension of bearing a child.

If the male actually believes he's pregnant though or if the symptoms become severe, then I would be worried. If it's that serious, then there might be an underlying psychological problem. I'm not a doctor though, this is just my opinion. A doctor would know best although I doubt that there are many doctors out there who have encountered a case of male pregnancy hysteria. It can't be very common.

Post 4

I can't believe that men experience a form of pregnancy hysteria. I think that's very strange. I had never heard of this before.

Post 3

My dog experienced this once. We had never had her spayed and when she was about six years old, she started acting like she was pregnant. It lasted for about a week if I remember correctly. She started eating more, moving less and sleeping a lot.

We knew it was not the case because she never mated. It was very interesting but also sad. I was sad because it seemed like she wanted to get pregnant and have babies. But my parents didn't want to deal with pups. We should have just gotten her spayed when she was young.

Post 2

Wow. This whole syndrome is just strange. I just can't imagine having all the pregnancy signs and not actually being pregnant. I just wonder what mechanism in a woman's body produces these symptoms when there's not a fetus growing?

It's even stranger when men get hysterical pregnancy. That's just downright bizarre. However, if it gives the man a little more sympathy for what the new mom is going through, then there's a positive side of it, I guess. I have never been pregnant or even thought I was, so I suppose this is one of those things you have to experience to understand.

Post 1

There is quite a bit of speculation that Queen Mary I of England had at least one hysterical pregnancy, if not more. She was desperate for an heir, and her husband, King Phillip of Spain, didn't visit her very often, so she was always hoping the visit before had produced a pregnancy.

Of course, without the benefit of ultrasound or anything similar, there was no direct way to say there was or was not a pregnancy. She may, however, have died of either uterine or ovarian cancer. She was only 42, so that put her right in the main target age for both kinds of cancer. Still, the first time she thought she was pregnant, she exhibited all the signs, but never had a baby or, apparently, a miscarriage.

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