Men get pregnant too - and often fancy a curry
Men do experience 'phantom pregnancies' when their partners are expecting a baby, according to a study at St George's Hospital in London.
The lead researcher Dr Arthur Brennan says he discovered the phenomenon not through his own experiences as a father but during the course of his work. He put his theory to test by quizzing a group of 282 expectant fathers between the ages of 19 and 55.
The 'vast majority' of them apparently experienced pregnancy-like symptoms including food cravings, mood swings, morning sickness and even swollen stomachs — a condition known as pseudocyesis. Brennan concluded: 'these men were so attuned to their partners, they started to develop the same symptoms.'
Stomach cramps were among the most common symptoms. One father-to-be said he felt as if he was giving birth. 'My stomach pains were very much like a build-up of a woman's contraction as she's giving birth. They started mild and then got stronger and stronger and stronger,' he told researchers.
This is the sort of claim that can raise eyebrows among women. 'As painful as passing a bowling ball through your vagina? I doubt it,' said one.
Another dad said: 'I had an unstoppable craving for chicken kormas and poppadams. Even in the early hours of the morning.'
Many doctors are sceptical about male sympathetic pregnancy, sometimes known as Couvade Syndrome, and would no doubt point out that a large number of men without pregnant partners also experience this craving — especially after several pints of lager.
However, Dr Brennan insists this is not men 'attention-seeking'. He said: 'these symptoms are involuntary. Often the men haven't got a clue about what's happening to them. This research proves that Couvade Syndrome really exists â€” the results speak for themselves.'
The results of the study, the largest of its kind ever carried out in the UK, were echoed by the experience of midwives at St George's. Dr Val Collington, Head of School of Midwifery, said: 'Midwives might not be surprised at these findings. One midwife told me that in her experience, men often complain of nausea during the early stage of their partner's pregnancy.'
Page created on June 18th, 2007
Page updated on January 16th, 2010