Pseudocyesis, false pregnancy, or phantom pregnancy is a condition in which a woman believes she is pregnant, contrary to the truth. Some people with false pregnancies show symptoms, but tests will confirm that it is not present.

A woman with a false pregnancy will not receive a positive pregnancy test result, according to the Cleveland Clinic website, as at-home pregnancy tests check for the presence of the hormone "human chorionic gonadotropin" (HCG), and placental cells produce that hormone only during pregnancy.

False pregnancy prevents the descent of the period

Women with false pregnancies experience many of the symptoms that women who are already pregnant have, including menopause.

Signs of false pregnancy

The symptoms of a false pregnancy are similar to an actual pregnancy because the woman thinks she is pregnant or has a condition that causes pregnancy symptoms. For example, some women will report feeling mobility in their wombs.

Other common symptoms of false pregnancy are:

  • Pain in the breast.
  • Flatulence.
  • Absence of the menstrual cycle.
  • Overweight.
  • Nausea or morning sickness.
  • Cravings for or aversion to food.
  • False labor contractions.

The difference between a false pregnancy and a normal pregnancy

The biggest difference between a false pregnancy and a real pregnancy is the presence of a fetus. A woman with a false pregnancy may feel pregnant and show signs of pregnancy, but a pregnancy test, blood test or ultrasound will show that she is not pregnant.

Causes of false pregnancy

Doctors don't have definitive causes for a false pregnancy, but they believe that psychological and hormonal factors may contribute to this, as it can be considered a somatic symptom disorder or when a person experiences physical symptoms of a condition without any medical explanation.

Some of the reasons that may lead to a woman developing a false pregnancy are:

  • Strong desire to get pregnant.
  • Multiple miscarriages.
  • Loss of a child.
  • Infertility.
  • Intense fear of pregnancy.
  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Emotional trauma.

Is false pregnancy an illusion?

No, a false pregnancy is not an illusion. Women diagnosed with delusion of pregnancy may not have symptoms of pregnancy but think they are pregnant. On the other hand, some women who have false pregnancies show symptoms of true pregnancy.

How does a false pregnancy end?

The first step to dealing with a false pregnancy is to convince the woman that she is not pregnant. It is helpful to explain to her that no embryo grows inside her body using ultrasound or any other imaging instrument.

Health care providers will also need treatment for medical conditions that cause pregnancy symptoms. For example, use hormone therapy to help a woman return to her period.

False pregnancy is usually treated as a psychological condition, including emotional support and behavioral therapy.