The need and want for a baby can become so strong, that pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and swollen breast begin. Some women have gotten every symptom including loss of menstruation and abdominal enlargement. Doctors and scientist are confused by what causes it. They do however know that there seems to be a mind-body feedback link. Thoughts of pregnancy trigger changes in hormones levels. Causing an extreme example of the placebo effect.
Mary, Queen of England was one of the first women reported to have pseudocyesis. After believing that she was pregnant twice, when she was not. She made the publicly made the announcement twice only to be humiliated twice. She was unable to produce an heir to the throne.
In dogs pseudocyesis is quite common. The condition is traced to elevated levels of reproductive hormones. Dogs have a long late phase of their ovarian cycle during which the corpus luteum produces large amounts of progesterone are produced.
The corpus luteum is a temporary endocrine structure. It develops from the ovary during the luteal phase.
If the dog does not become pregnant, the corpus luteum takes around 70 days to slow down. With a drop in progesterone levels, the prolactin levels increase. Which then increases milk production, an enlarged abdomen and a host of mothering behavior.
Every symptom has been recorded, except the heart beat, the fetus in an ultrasound and ultimately a birth. It’s recommended that women experiencing a false pregnancy should seek counseling or therapy in order to work through some underlying emotional or psychological causes, including anxiety and stress.