A patient comes to a doctor complaining of the following symptoms: “I can’t sleep because my teeth have been aching for the past few weeks. My head is killing me and whenever I wake up in the morning my stomach hurts and I feel nauseous and want to vomit. Sometimes I have no appetite and sometimes I crave a certain food. My breasts have gotten bigger and my stomach is bulging quite a bit.”
The patient has been married for three years and in a few months will have a beautiful daughter.
What is the diagnosis?
Most people would immediately say “Pregnancy!”. But there is one small detail that was left out: the patient is a man.
It is common sense that men cannot be pregnant. So what is this man suffering from?
Couvade syndrome is also known as sympathetic pregnancy. In other words, the husband subconsciously copies his wife’s pregnancy and suffer the same symptoms. This syndrome can be severe enough to cause labour pains, nosebleeds and even post-partum depression.
The cause has not been established, but it is likely to be psychosomatic, where psychological symptoms are expressed through physical symptoms, or due to changes in hormone levels.