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A false pregnancy is a phenomenon in which a female experiences many of the symptoms of being pregnant but is not, in fact, with child. This phenomenon, which is also referred to as hysterical pregnancy, is not especially common in humans, but does occur in other mammals. When a human woman experiences a false pregnancy, the phenomenon is referred to as pseudocyesis. When other species experience false pregnancies it is referred to as pseudopregnancy. When a woman experiences a false pregnancy, she usually strongly believes that she is pregnant and she also has a number of physiological symptoms to back up the belief.
One of the hallmarks of pregnancy, the development of the "baby bump" in the abdominal region, is often present in women who experience false pregnancies. The abdominal distention is one of the reasons that she and, in some cases, the people around her believe that she is with child. An examination by a doctor, especially with the use of ultrasound technology, can determine that there is no fetus in the woman's uterus. Some women also experience morning sickness, soreness in their breasts, as well as an absence of menstruation, all of which are also symptoms of pregnancy. Some women who have experienced false pregnancies have also reported the sensation of fetal movements.
It is widely believed that, in humans, a false pregnancy is psychologically driven. There are some theories that a false pregnancy may be the result of a deep desire to have a child. There is not currently, however, a theory that is accepted by all and there are also some cases that poke holes in certain existing theories. There are some women, for example, who experience false pregnancies but assert that they have no desire to have a child.
Just as there is no definitive cause of false pregnancy, there is also no definitive cure. In many cases, a women who is experiencing a false pregnancy will be referred to a mental health professional. The treatments provided by mental health professionals can vary quite a bit and there is not a mental health treatment that is widely used and known to cure false pregnancy. There are a few statistics that point to specific age groups that are at a higher risk for false pregnancy. But there are also reports that indicate that there are outliers, proving that there is not one age group that solely experiences this phenomenon.