A Look Into Couvade Syndrome: Is It a Reality?

The simple answer to the question in the title is undoubtedly “yes.” But first things first; let us take an informative tour to understand what couvade syndrome is. When my wife discovered that she was pregnant, the pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness, frequent urination, and difficulty sleeping, were increasingly becoming worse. I, her husband, and the expectant dad-to-be said I was unwell too. She listened to my woes and quickly realized that we were experiencing the same symptoms. Was that only a coincidence? I don’t think so. The actual clinical term for this phenomenon is couvade syndrome. It is an unusual condition in which a dad-to-be experiences symptoms that mimic pregnancy. Couvade syndrome is also called sympathetic pregnancy.

So, how do we (men) know that we are suffering from this so-called sympathetic pregnancy? Well, we can understand that we have couvade syndrome by observing the following signs and symptoms.

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Morning sickness
  • Increased urination

One thing we must, however, understand is the fact that these signs and symptoms above are not unique to couvade syndrome. So, don’t just spring up from nowhere and claim to be suffering from sympathetic pregnancy. It is essential to thoroughly assess our situations before attempting to make such a claim.

Is It a Myth or Reality?

For many people, pregnancy symptoms are strictly a female affair. If you have watched “Junior,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie, then you probably understand that the film seems to justify this claim. Additionally, many medical professionals fail to recognize sympathetic pregnancy as real. To them, the idea of a father-to-be suffering like his female counterpart is a big joke. And yes, I used to subscribe to this belief, but I don’t do that anymore. That is why I’m here to tell you, don’t be fooled by other people’s opinions. After all, not every dad experiences couvade syndrome. Indeed, the condition is a reality, and if you’re not yet a dad, it may just be a matter of time for you to experience this reality; who knows?

What Is the Cause of Couvade Syndrome?

Nailing down the pathology of couvade syndrome tends to be elusive. While some researchers believe that it is a psychological issue, others think that it is purely a physical phenomenon. Although several scientific studies have tried to establish the exact cause of couvade syndrome to no avail, many scholars tend to agree that empathy and stress are the two likely culprits.

Stress causes sympathetic pregnancy by lowering testosterone levels in our (male) bodies. Low levels of testosterone result in estrogen imbalance, leading to pregnancy-related symptoms. And let us be real, coupled with health concerns and financial worries, pregnancy is a stressful affair that affects both parties (husband and wife). Add a dose of empathy to the mix, and the result is a perfect couvade syndrome recipe.

Since pregnancy-related stress is usually at its peak during the first and last three months of pregnancy, this is when the symptoms of couvade syndrome occur. The reasons for this are apparent; while the couple is adapting to the shock of pregnancy during the first trimester, the third trimester involves preparation for the little angel’s birth.

No matter how divided opinions are, couvade syndrome is a real phenomenon. However, since many of us prefer keeping our experiences to ourselves, it is difficult to find accurate data showing how many men are affected. If you have had couvade syndrome in the past, it is time to take a step and share your case.