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Morning sickness in men is much more common that the average person thinks. It's a symptom of Couvade syndrome, or sympathy pregnancy. Occurring across different cultures and socioeconomic classes, it can be the result of strong emotions regarding the pregnancy and the changing social roles of men.
Feeling sick to the stomach in the morning is just one part of Couvade syndrome. Also known as phantom pregnancy, the syndrome is a condition that results in an expectant father experiencing pregnancy symptoms as his mate does. These symptoms can also include weight gain, altered hormone levels, sleep pattern disturbances, nosebleeds, postpartum depression and even labor pains.
It's difficult to say exactly how common sympathy pregnancies are in men, since it depends on which symptoms people associate with the phenomenon. Using the common symptoms as a reference, research suggests that sympathy pregnancies can occur in as much as 80% of expectant fathers. Rarer symptoms, including belly growth and labor pains, might affect only 5% to 10% of fathers-to-be.
Morning sickness can begin for men as early as the first trimester and can last until the third trimester. It appears that symptoms are more common during the late stages of pregnancy and are likely to be more severe then, too. Expectant fathers should experience a total alleviation of symptoms after the birth of their child.
Sympathy pregnancy symptoms, including morning sickness, can occur in any ethnic group or socioeconomic class. Men around the world experience the phenomenon, and it is not limited to any particular generation. Sympathy pregnancies are more likely to occur in men who have deep emotional attachments to the fetus or the mother. One study found that 92% of men with a deep emotional investment in the pregnancy suffered from sympathy pregnancy symptoms. It's been suggested that those who have had trouble conceiving with their mates might be more likely to experience Couvade syndrome.
While many expectant fathers might suffer physically from sympathy pregnancies, the condition's legitimacy still is debated by experts. European research has questioned the condition's validity, but other experts argue that the condition continues to grow among the male population. These experts believe that the increase in occurrences is because of changing social roles in some cultures. They contend that these men are more likely to experience sympathy pregnancies, including morning sickness, because they are encouraged to be more nurturing and active during pregnancies and as fathers.