Couvade syndrome, also known as phantom pregnancy, is a condition men suffer from when women are pregnant. Often referred to as sympathetic pregnancy, men can experience many of the same symptoms and side effects of pregnancy that are common for women. The most common symptoms of Couvade Syndrome include sympathy pain, weight gain, hormone fluctuations, and morning sickness. Due to the physical nature of some symptoms, doctors debate whether the condition is mental or physical.

Theories About Couvade Syndrome

There is no known cause for Couvade Syndrome, which leave the medical community to speculate about potential causes. Many doctors and experts believe the condition to be purely mental related to anxiety, tension, and stress associated with pregnancy. There are, however, experts who support a very real and physical function of Couvade Syndrome.

When men suffer from the same symptoms of pregnancy as women, the gap of understanding is narrowed. On a basic level, this could be an instinctual means of preparing a man for fatherhood. If the man is capable of feeling the pains of pregnancy, on some level, he may also grow closer to his pregnant partner bonding them closer together for the long journey ahead.

The Physical Nature of Couvade Syndrome

While many of the symptoms of Couvade Syndrome can be linked to mental changes in nature like sleeplessness, morning sickness, and weight gain - others are purely physical. Doctors have noted shifts in prolactin, testosterone, estradiol, and cortisol levels in men suffering from phantom pregnancy. Hormone changes have been noted from the end of the first trimester until after birth. In relationships where the female plays a dominant role, Couvade Syndrome is more common. There is no scientific reason for this fact.

Couvade in Western Culture

Not that long ago, women were the home makers that cleaned house, tended to kids, and took care of daily home activities. Men worked outside the home and offered very little personal support to pregnant women or children as part of the male/female relationship. As more and more women entered the workforce, things changed. Today, women are just as likely to be the major breadwinners as men leaving men in closer contact with children and home life. With this connection comes a greater chance of suffering from Couvade Syndrome or phantom pregnancy.

Fighting Couvade Syndrome Symptoms

In order to fight Couvade Syndrome symptoms, men first need to accept that the symptoms are real. As a basic natural reaction to pregnancy, men must suffer through the morning sickness, sleeplessness, and pain the same way a pregnant woman does. Weight gain can be counteracted with a healthy diet and exercise. Exercising with your pregnant partner is just fine as long as the obstetrician approves daily exercise – for her!