pseudocyesis

pseudocyesis (sōˌdōsĪēˈsĭs) [key], imaginary pregnancy in women usually resulting from a strong desire or need for motherhood. In the absence of conception, the menstrual periods nevertheless cease, the abdomen becomes enlarged and the breasts swell and even secrete milk, mimicking genuine pregnancy. The uterus and cervix may show signs of pregnancy, urine tests may be falsely positive, and the woman may report sensations of fetal movements. A woman may believe in her pregnancy to the point of delusion and show acute depression when no baby is born. It has been suggested that depression can sometimes alter the activity of the pituitary gland so as to cause hormone level changes that mimic the hormone changes of real pregnancy.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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