Determining if you are pregnant nowadays is easy, if you know the signs and follow some simple guidelines. Or, as in some cases, some women actually ended giving birth to a healthy baby without unnoticed. All they felt was an abdominal pain and – a baby being born! This is known as a cryptic pregnancy and is not as rare as you might think.
But what happens if you feel nothing, and do not expect or suspect being pregnant? You just go about your life, without any concern or regard to being pregnant, and then one day on a routine check-up, you are told that you are pregnant.
What is Cryptic Pregnancy and how to confirm it
A cryptic pregnancy, also known as stealth pregnancy are terms used to describe a pregnancy that continues unbeknownst to the mommy, without any, or with mild symptoms that are dismissed as other physiological processes. Women with cryptic pregnancies have been reported to assign the usual pregnancy symptoms to weight gain, frequent indigestion, or other medical conditions. Some women claimed to have taken a home pregnancy test and gotten a negative result, likely a result of improper test-taking methods. It is important to know a few simple guidelines when taking a pregnancy test online, as we describe here. Some women do get some vaginal bleeding which is mistaken for menstrual periods and dismiss the pregnancy altogether.
Other women, never actually developed any symptoms, and were free of weight gain, morning sickness, and some even reported having regular or irregular menstrual periods. As a result, the pregnancy was never confirmed or followed by a medical professional.
As we can imagine, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why this happens. In fact, most cases are just normal pregnancies that have not been properly diagnosed and documented, and symptoms were not adequately assessed and thus the pregnancy remains a mystery to the mom until birth. Also, HCG levels remain low in these cases, which makes the detection of the pregnancy difficult. Some of the reasons for missing the symptoms may be:
- Denied pregnancy is a rare condition where the mother is unable to accept that she is pregnant and therefore goes through the pregnancy with no conscious knowledge of being pregnant.
- A recent pregnancy can also play a role here when a woman might believe that the symptoms of a new pregnancy are actually those of post-partum recovery.
- Some women develop a condition called perimenopause which can lead to menopausal symptoms such as hormonal disbalance, weight gain, etc. In these cases, affected women simply fail to tell the difference between the perimenopausal symptoms and those of pregnancy
- Low body fat can lead to hormonal fluctuations and missed periods.
- Stress can be a major player in hormonal fluctuations and are a leading cause of missed periods.
- Birth control can also lead to a change in hormonal levels and missed menstrual periods.
In other cases, however, no symptoms develop, and this may be due to a physiological abnormality. In these cases, the pregnancy progresses as normal but with no signs or symptoms to the mother.
Can Ultrasound Help To Detect Cryptic Pregnancy
While ultrasound is a go-to diagnostic method for pregnancies, it does sometimes fall short and has some major limitations.
- In a condition called retroversion of the uterus, the ultrasound will not actually detect the fetus due to the uterine position which could tilt sidewards or backward.
- In cases of bicornuate uterus, the septum that usually only partially separates the uterus develops further and divides the uterus, even more, creating a structure that resembles two horns protruding in different sides. While a cause of a higher degree of surveillance and more frequent miscarriages, most women with bicornuate uteri are able to have a healthy pregnancy. However, this condition may contribute to the pregnancy being cryptic, and oftentimes does not let the ultrasound to diagnose the pregnancy well.
- Scarring can also prevent the ultrasound from penetrating the skin well enough and cause a lot of difficulties when imaging the pregnancy. As a result, an inaccurate assessment may be made and pregnancy may not be as evident.
Pregnancy test results
Pregnancy test results rely on human gonadotropin hormone (HCG) levels in order to accurately determine if a pregnancy is present. However, due to some bleeding still occurring in cryptic pregnancies, the lining of the uterus may still be removed and thus the hormone blood levels may be too low for the pregnancy test to pick up.
As mentioned, some women may not experience any symptoms while others may experience them but dismiss any notion of pregnancy for various reasons. However, when present, the symptom list does resemble the regular symptoms associate with pregnancy:
- Pelvic pain
- Vaginal wall swelling
- Sore breasts
When researching cryptic pregnancy online, you might come across another condition, which is sometimes falsely categorized as a cryptic pregnancy as well. This condition is known as pseudocyesis or false pregnancy. People with this condition report having pregnancy symptoms, and believe that they are pregnant despite all the facts contrary to that. These women would go from doctor to doctor, always receiving the same answer that they are not pregnant. In spite of this, however, they would dismiss all the medical opinions and test results and will report pregnancy symptoms sometimes for years.
The interesting thing about this condition is that the body may physiologically match the expectation of pregnancy. Of course, these women will not magically get pregnant, but they will actually have nausea, missed periods, and others.
However, these are not cryptic pregnancies. Pseucyesis are rare cases when the power of the mind over the body is shown, and the physiological functions of the body adjust to what the mind believes.
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