Women get pregnant; men may get sympathetic pregnancies!
Willian Bennett, a resident of Sheerness, Kent, felt the same symptoms of pregnancy each time any of his four daughters got pregnant. Bennett had been pregnant 30 times by then, but at the time of presentation, he was 79 years old and found it too tiresome.
Whenever one of his daughters would get pregnant, he would have symptoms of pregnancy, including nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, and also swollen stomach. The symptoms would continue until his grandchild would be delivered.
Quite surprisingly, he never had any of these symptoms when his wife was pregnant with his kids.
This condition where men get pregnant when their partners or loved ones are pregnant is called Phantom pregnancy, Sympathetic pregnancy, or Couvade syndrome. Rarely seen, the word was originated to describe the custom in primitive communities of fathers imitating the mother’s condition during childbirth. The literal meaning of the French word ‘couver’ means to hatch.
Dr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Bennett’s general physician, confirmed that Mr. Bennett’s waist measurement increased by more than 30 inches when three of William’s daughters were pregnant at the same time. But his condition would persist only during pregnancy and not during childbirth. Doctors were perplexed by the swelling of the stomach and couldn’t find an explanation for it.
There was a study conducted at the St George’s University, London, on 282 Dads-to-be of ages between 19 and 55 years, to understand the “Couvade syndrome.” The dads undergoing the research reported symptoms similar to that of early pregnancy, including cramps, back pain, mood swings, food cravings, morning sickness, fatigue, depression, fainting, insomnia, and toothache, and increased abdominal girth in some extreme cases.
Most of the symptoms usually disappear completely after birth.
Dr. Arthur Brennan, senior lecturer at St Georges, who led the study said:
“These men were so attuned to their partners; they started to develop the same symptoms,”
Dr. Harriet Gross, senior lecturer in the Department of Human Sciences at Loughborough University said:
“It would be interesting to know whether there was a correlation between women who suffer the worst symptoms and what their partners experience. The symptoms, which often happen early in pregnancy, maybe a sign of impending anxiety – the beginning of a pregnancy is an uncertain time.”
The exact pathophysiology behind these symptoms in men is still unknown, and the role of hormones causing couvade symptoms is also unclear.
Men suffer from phantom pregnancy. (2007, June 14). Retrieved from BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6751709.stm
O’DONNELL, M. (2016, June 9). Medicine’s strangest cases: The man who kept getting pregnant and other weird true stories. Retrieved from Express.co.uk: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/678253/medicine-strangest-cases-medical-weird-true-stories-man-pregnant