Definition Pseudocyesis (pronounced soo-do-si-ye-sis) is the medical term for this condition originating from the Greek word, “pseudo” for false and “kuesis” meaning conception. Other related terms are ‘phantom pregnancy’, or commonly, ‘imagined’ pregnancy.
History The first recorded and celebrated case of hysterical pregnancy was by Queen Mary 1, known in history as ‘Bloody Mary’, who endured great torment in her growing years and gave marital problems to her wedded husband, Catholic King of Spain Phillip II. It was not certain whether she was barren or if she had miscarriages but the story of a conjured pretentious pregnancy was documented as she tried to seek attention from her husband.
Etiology With the above background, psychologists and psychiatrists have opined that this condition is almost always due to an underlying emotional disturbance. Mostly because of an earnest desire to conceive for whatever reason, the mind, which is a very powerful programmer of the body, comes up with a self-fulfilling prophecy of feeling pregnant.
Stress is one of the myriad causes of irregularity or cessation of menstrual flow.
Queen Mary Tudor, whose life was beset with much anguish, was believed to have died of stomach cancer which may have caused abdominal enlargement and led her to believe that she conceived a child.
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