Couvade syndrome, male empathic pregnancy

Couvade syndrome, male empathic pregnancy

Although the majority of psychology articles focus on the most well-known mental disorders such as depression or anxiety, other types of psychological problems may be identical or even more disabling. One of the strangest is Couvade syndrome, also known as male empathic pregnancy.

This syndrome occurs when a couple is going to have a baby for the first time. In some cases (between 10 and 65% according to one study), the body of the future father undergoes certain symptoms of pregnancy. In fact, the name of the disorder comes from the French word "smolder"referring to incubation and education.

In this article, we will examine the symptoms most commonly associated with this disorder as well as its possible causes.

Couvade syndrome: what is it?

Couvade syndrome is a type of psychological disorder that causes some men to develop pregnancy-like symptoms when the couple is expecting a baby. Although the exact cause of this syndrome is not known, it is believed that it is related to the father's excessive empathy for the mother's pregnancy. This excess then causes hormonal changes.

In addition to being certainly of mental origin, this disorder significantly alters the hormones of men who suffer from it. Thus, it has recently been found that the testosterone levels of the affected individuals very often decrease as prolactin (one of the main hormones associated with pregnancy) increases.

Experts differentiate Couvade syndrome from other mental disorders such as nerve pregnancy. The latter is especially noticeable in women. However, both disorders are considered psychosomatic disorders, that is, mental problems that cause real changes in the body.

Most common symptoms

The symptoms of this disorder usually appear from the third month of pregnancy. They usually disappear when the baby is born. Couvade's syndrome is not considered to be a serious problem for this reason and because does not involve any significant health risk for men who suffer from it.

However, the majority of the symptoms caused by this disorder can be very disturbing. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Nausea and vomiting, especially in the morning.
  • Change of mood, greater irritability and increased emotional sensitivity.
  • Cravings and repulsion towards food or specific smells.
  • Brutal changes in weight whether by increase or decrease.
  • Bowel problems such as diarrhea, flatulence or stomach pain.
  • Abdominal pain similar to contractions.

As can be seen, although these symptoms do not imply any real risk to the health of people who suffer from the syndrome, oHe understands that they can be associated with many feelings of discomfort. But, what is the cause of this disorder.

Why does Couvade Syndrome appear?

The experts still do not agree on the causes of this particular disorder. In recent years, a series of explanations have been found on how it occurs. In following, we will present the most important ones.

1.Hormonal modifications

Some experts believe that the hormonal changes produced during pregnancy in the woman's body could also affect human hormones by lowering testosterone and increasing prolactin for this reason.

2.Excess of empathy

Some studies have shown that men who put themselves too often in the place of their partner are more likely to show the symptoms of this syndrome. So, the predisposition to share the burden with the mother or the desire to actively participate in the pregnancy could be the causes of the problem.

3.Anxiety and stress

A pregnancy is always synonymous with a significant change in a couple's life. As such, this step can turn into a stressful situation that promotes the development of the father's anxiety. An excess of anxiety is linked to the decrease of testosterone which could be one of the causes of the symptoms caused by this disorder.


Finally, some psychologists say that at the unconscious level, men suffering from Couvade Syndrome would feel jealousy towards the mother (because she feels in her body the development of a new life) or towards the baby who could leave her. his place in the life of his couple. This jealousy would be the cause of the disorder to attract attention unconsciously.

Although it can be quite disturbing, Couvade's syndrome is safe for men who suffer from it. If you or your partner goes through this disorder, remember to contact a mental health professional who can help you overcome this step with much less difficulty.

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