“Pregnant” men show phantom symptoms

Men who experience morning sickness, cramps, fatigue and even distended bellies in sympathy with their partners are not simply looking for attention (or downright mad);  they may be undergoing a phantom pregnancy.

A study which tracked the male partners of pregnant women showed that phantom pregnancy symptoms in men, which have never been accepted as a medical condition happen more often than you’d expect, according to the BBC.

Some men experienced phantom pregnancy symptoms early on in their partner’s pregnancies, while others experienced them right up until their partner gave birth, some even experiencing labour pains.
"These men were so attuned to their partners, they started to develop the same symptoms," said Dr Arthur Brennan, the senior lecturer who led the study.

Brennan insists that “Couvade Syndrome”, as it is called, is real, and that men may not even realise they have the involuntary symptoms, which could include cramps, back pain, mood swings, food cravings, morning sickness, fatigue, depression, fainting, insomnia, toothache and even the development of a “baby bump”.

One man in the study is quoted as saying that he “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 of the men 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."

Theories exist that Couvade Syndrome is sympathetic in nature- that a man may experience such extreme empathy for his partner that it produces a physical impact, and that it may be exacerbated by anxieties over the impending birth.

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Do you think men can share the pregnancy symptoms of their partners?
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