False pregnancy (or pseudocyesis, from the Greek pseudes "false" and kyesis "pregnancy") is the appearance of clinical or subclinical signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy although the individual is not physically carrying a baby. The mistaken impression that one is pregnant includes signs and symptoms such as tender breasts with secretions, abdominal growth, delayed menstrual periods, and subjective feelings of a moving fetus. Examination, ultrasound, and pregnancy tests can be used to rule out false pregnancy.
False pregnancy has a prominent psychiatric component as well as physical manifestations of pregnancy. It can be caused by trauma (either physical or mental), a chemical imbalance of hormones, and some medical conditions. Contributing psychological factors include a strong desire for pregnancy or misinterpretation of objective bodily sensations. Although rare, men can experience false pregnancy symptoms, called Couvade syndrome or "sympathetic pregnancy", which can occur when their significant other is pregnant and dealing with pregnancy symptoms. Psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy with antidepressants or antipsychotics, hormonal therapy, and uterine curettage are sometimes needed as treatment.
While extremely rare in the United States because of the frequent use of medical imaging, in developing regions such as India and sub-Saharan Africa, the incidence of false pregnancy is higher. Rural areas see more instances of false pregnancy because such women are less often examined by a health care professional or midwife during the duration of believed pregnancy.