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Have you ever heard the news about women not knowing they’re pregnant until the time of labor and delivery? How come these pregnant women don’t feel the signs and symptoms of pregnancy? Does it actually happen in a real life scenario?
Understanding Cryptic Pregnancy
The above-mentioned questions all lead to a medical condition called “cryptic pregnancy”. A cryptic pregnancy is a condition wherein the woman shows very little or no symptoms of being pregnant. These women claim they still have their monthly periods and never experienced any signs or symptoms of getting pregnant.
When browsing the internet, you’ll encounter stories from physicians who had real-life encounters with patients arriving at the E.R. and complaining about abdominal pain. These women end up delivering full-term babies. Would you believe that these women didn’t have any idea that they are actually in labor?
According to the study, “The Evolutionary Biology of Cryptic Pregnancy: A Re-Appraisal of the Denied Pregnancy Phenomenon”, cryptic pregnancy has a much higher incidence than previously thought. This suggests the fact that it actually happens to a number of women across the globe.
What Causes Cryptic Pregnancy?
While the major underlying cause is yet to be found, there are certain theories to explain this condition.
1. Somatic Denial
This theory suggests that women experiencing cryptic pregnancy might already have the hindsight of what is actually happening in their body, yet they kept on denying it. Somatic, meaning the physical signs and symptoms that could be associated with pregnancy are consciously denied by the woman even if they are quite obvious and other people may notice them.
For example, the pregnant woman claims she doesn’t feel any fetal movements while the examining physician actually sees the baby moving. Another illustration is when the hospital releases an ultrasound report, and the mother claims she doesn’t see any baby in the picture.
Somatic denial can be attributed to some psychological concerns like problems with finances to support baby’s needs, and lack of family support to the current pregnancy.
2. Physiological Predisposition
There are also instances where the mother’s body actually shows very unrecognizable pregnancy symptoms so that she is totally unaware of what is happening. One good example is when the mother continuously has monthly periods. This is attributed to hormonal imbalance wherein there is a constant shedding of some parts of the uterine lining causing it to bleed each month. It also affects the levels of hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) in the blood and urine, revealing negative test results in pregnancy home kits and even blood lab tests. The fetus also develops at a slower rate, making it too small to reveal a “baby bump”.
Who Are Often Affected?
Women who fall in one of these categories may have an increased risk of cryptic pregnancy:
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome): Women with PCOS have bizarre menstrual patterns due to hormonal imbalance making it harder to detect suspected pregnancy.
Obese or Malnourished: Very high body fat percentage masks the symptoms of pregnancy, while very low body fat affects the speed of the fetal development.
Peri-Menopausal Women: It refers to the onset of the signs and symptoms of menopause. A woman may think that she is already menopause and couldn’t get pregnant. However, she is actually in this transition stage and still ovulates in irregular patterns.
Use of Hormonal Birth Control Methods: This refers to women with transdermal patches or under injectable contraceptives. The continuous hormonal release may also conceal the signs and symptoms of pregnancy.
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