Pseudocyesis – False or Phantom Pregnancy

Pseudocyesis

Image by N G (CC BY-ND 2.0)

When a woman believes, sometimes to the point of it becoming a psychotic delusion, that she is pregnant when she is not pregnant, she is said to be suffering from a pseudocyesis.

An understandable mistake due to abnormal or missed menstrual periods which lead a woman to be misled into believing she is in early pregnancy is not normally described as a pseudocyesis. Only when a woman does not accept a rational medical explanation that she is not pregnant is the term commonly used.

Affected women may actually put on weight (due to overeating) and retain fluid in order to reinforce their false belief, and some criminal cases of baby abduction have been due to a woman’s desperation to prove her delusion was real.

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