Cryptic pregnancy in Nigeria: What is it exactly?
Cryptic pregnancy in Nigeria is not a new phenomenon. This condition has troubled Nigerian women for decades, but unfortunately, a lot of people know very little about it.
People with cryptic pregnancy, if they actually know that they are pregnant, will believe that the baby is hiding somewhere outside of the uterus. This belief is popular because there are cases where the woman knows she’s pregnant but the ultrasound fails to show a fetus.
What is cryptic pregnancy?
Cryptic pregnancy is when there is no biological sign of pregnancy in a woman who is actually pregnant. Usually, the hCG levels will remain undetectable in women with this condition. Pregnancy tests will come out negative whether it is a blood or a urine test.
In most cases of cryptic pregnancy in Nigeria, the woman may not even be aware that she’s pregnant until she goes into labour. Although some women with this condition will know that they are indeed pregnant, it will be a confusing time for them because of the lack of pregnancy signs.
When a woman gets pregnant with a normal pregnancy, the placenta produces hCG and secretes it into the lining of the uterus. From the uterus, this pregnancy hormone is secreted into the urine and the blood. hCG continues to rise until it can easily be detected in blood and urine pregnancy tests.
In cryptic pregnancies, the body doesn’t produce elevated levels of hCG as with normal pregnancies. Due to this, tests will read negative. Also, since the body hasn’t gone through the necessary hormonal changes to support a baby, the baby will stay longer in the womb.
The foetus stays longer in the uterus in cryptic pregnancies, but once the baby is born, they develop at a normal rate.
Symptoms of cryptic pregnancy
It is common for people with cryptic pregnancy in Nigeria to get signs of pregnancy from time to time. Some women could brush off these signs since they are not regular.
Here some characteristics of cryptic pregnancy:
• Irregular periods
• Negative blood and urine pregnancy tests
• Negative ultrasound
• A Pregnancy that lasts from 22 months up to 9 years due to insufficient pregnancy hormone levels
• Pregnancy symptoms that appear and disappear
• Sometimes cryptic pregnancies have no symptoms
Causes of cryptic pregnancy
Women who are dealing with hormonal imbalance are most likely to get cryptic pregnancy. However, hormonal imbalance is not the only cause of this condition.
Other factors include:
1. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS can cause an excessive flood of hormones in the body, making it hard to detect pregnancy in tests.
2. Low body fat
When the body fat percentage is too low, it can be hard to get an accurate reading from pregnancy tests. Hormonal imbalance is a side effect of extremely low body fat, and this can make it difficult to get accurate pregnancy test readings.
3. Birth control and emergency contraception
Some birth control methods can trick the body into thinking that there is no pregnancy even when the woman is, in fact, pregnant. This is because contraceptives release hormones into the body, and some of these hormones can make it hard to detect a pregnancy in tests and ultrasound.
Morning after pills and emergency contraceptives can also cause this condition. This happens when the emergency contraceptive fails or if the woman took it too late.
4. Recent pregnancy
After a woman gives birth, it might take a while before her hormone levels return to normal. Things could get tricky if the woman gets pregnant again close to a recent pregnancy.
5. Pregnancy while still breastfeeding
Hormone levels in breastfeeding women are always higher than normal. So, if a breastfeeding mom gets pregnant, it could be hard to know for certain.
Things to expect in cryptic pregnancies
• Longer gestational period
• Low birth weight
• Prolonged labour
• High risk of birth defects
Things that don’t cause cryptic pregnancy in Nigeria
Since this condition is so confusing, many people can sometimes attribute its causes to things that can’t affect a woman’s pregnancy.
Cryptic pregnancy is not caused by:
• Evil spirits
• Father’s or mother’s genotype
• Father’s or mother’s DNA
A cryptic pregnancy in Nigeria can be confusing for a woman who knows she’s pregnant even when there are no signs to confirm her suspicions. Knowing what to expect with this condition will make it easier for you to deal with it.
Resources: Cryptic Pregnancy Support Group