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Phantom Pregnancy Symptoms in Men

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Phantom Pregnancy Symptoms in Men
Recent research in the UK shows that expectant fathers can also suffer from pregnancy symptoms.

Women who were pregnant reported their husbands experiencing cramps, back pain, Morning sickness, and even swollen stomachs.

The research was carried out at at St George's University, London, on 282 Dads-to-be. The phenomenon is known as "Couvade syndrome".

Experts said that anxiety over the pregnancy was a reason that men suffered similar symptoms to their partners, although this was not entirely clear.

The men, aged between 19 and 55, whose partners attended St George's Hospital during their pregnancy, were monitored by specialists. The findings were then compared with a similar number of controls.

In some extreme cases, men even developed swollen stomachs that looked like a pregnancy bump. Eleven of the men approached their GP about their symptoms but no actual physical causes were found. Most noticed symptoms early on in their partner's pregnancy. Others experienced them right up until the delivery day. Most symptoms disappeared after the birth.

"These men were so attuned to their partners, they started to develop the same symptoms," said Dr Arthur Brennan, a senior lecturer at St Georges, who led the study.

One of the subjects said: "I was constantly hungry all the time and had an unstoppable craving for chicken kormas and poppadoms.

"Even in the early hours of the morning I would get up and prepare myself one. It was strange to say the least."


Another insisted that the stomach pain he experienced during labour outranked his wife's discomfort.

"It seemed like my pain was worse," he said. "Her contractions were fairly strong, but she couldn't push and as that was happening my stomach pain was building up and up and getting worse and worse."

Couvade Syndrome, comes from the French word 'couver' which means 'to hatch', but is not a recognised medical condition.

Dr Brennan, himself a father of two, said that he noted it while studying foetal and paternal attachment earlier in his career.

"Some people may perceive this as men trying to get in on the act, but far from being attention-seeking, these symptoms are involuntary," he said.

"Doctors don't recognise Couvade Syndrome - there's no medical diagnosis.

"Yet this research proves that Couvade Syndrome really exists - the results speak for themselves."

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