Everything You Need To Know About Phantom Pregnancy

Everything You Need To Know About Phantom Pregnancy

You experienced all the signs of pregnancy, but hospital ppregnancy tests read negative? Here's all you need to know about phantom pregnancy.

Phantom pregnancy, otherwise known as a false pregnancy, is a concept that has been around since 300BC when Hippocrates first wrote an account about it. 

But it won't be much of a surprise to know that some people don't know what this condition is. Phantom pregnancy is also medically known as pseudocyesis. One out of every two hundred and fifty pregnancies was false during the 1940s. But with more technological equipment in the medical field, that number has significantly dropped, since there's more access to an accurate pregnancy test. There are a few factors tied to the likelihood of false pregnancy. The likelihood is higher in societies where a woman's worth is linked to her ability to conceive. Phantom pregnancy has been known to occur between women of six years to 79, the average age is 33. 

What is phantom pregnancy?

what is phantom pregnancy

Phantom pregnancy is a condition that makes a woman believe that she is pregnant when she is not. However, this belief is not baseless. Signs of pregnancy manifest during a phantom pregnancy. Fatigue, nausea, vomiting, swelling breast—all these pregnancy symptoms can be experienced by a woman during a phantom pregnancy. The tricky thing with phantom pregnancy is that the symptoms aren't a flash in the pan. They are long-standing like the real pregnancy, existing long enough to convince even the people around a woman experiencing phantom pregnancy into believing that she is truly pregnant. 

Symptoms of phantom pregnancy 

what is phantom pregnancy

Just as in the case of a normal pregnancy, during a false pregnancy the woman has something of a baby bump. The only difference is that instead of a baby, what she has inside is the following:

  • Gas
  • Faeces
  • Fat
  • Urine

In a nutshell, what all these means is that symptoms of phantom pregnancy are hard to distinguish. Another physical symptom might be the presence of an irregular menstrual cycle. Others symptoms are difficult to differentiate too. They include:

  • Weight gain 
  • Tender breasts
  • Morning sickness 
  • Lactation 
  • False labour 
  • Increased appetite 
  • Enlargement of the uterus 
  • Labour pains
  • Frequent urination 

Causes of phantom pregnancy 

what is phantom pregnancy

The causes of phantom pregnancy are not clear-cut, even medically. There are those who believe the causes to be physical and there are those who believe it to be psychological. But there are a few factors that have been pegged to be the most probable cause of false pregnancy. 

  • Loss of a child
  • Trauma leading to mental break down
  • Repeated miscarriages 
  • Infertility 

Out of all these causes, the common one is when a woman becomes so desperately in need of a child that somehow she convinces herself into believing she is pregnant. Another physical cause of phantom pregnancy is an ovarian tumour and a chemical imbalance in the brain. 

34th week of pregnancy


The treatment of this phantom condition is very tricky and delicate, taking into account what caused false results in the first place. Most expectant mothers are excited and are already bonding with the baby. They are already picturing how they are going to raise the child. The same thing goes for a woman experiencing phantom pregnancy. So imagine having to tell such a woman that she is not pregnant after all this time. The doctor will have to check to ensure that there is no underlying neurological or psychological condition. After breaking the news, she would be provided with a therapist. 


Emotional support from loved ones is very important at this time in a woman's life.

Read also: Is Sex During Early Pregnancy Connected To Miscarriages?

Source: Web MD

Written by

Lydia Ume