It would seem that the combination of the terms "man" and "pregnancy" is impossible - the male body is simply not adapted for carrying a child. However, the phenomenon of "male pregnancy" still takes place. True, he has purely psychological roots.
For a man whose wife is expecting a baby, this is also a difficult time. Due to certain physiological processes, a woman sometimes begins to experience unpleasant symptoms - toxicosis, tearfulness, frequent mood swings. Of course, all this cannot but affect a man if he is constantly around. And some husbands begin to experience similar symptoms - fatigue, weight gain, nausea, problems with appetite, and just before childbirth, even something like contractions.
How can all this be explained? A group of Canadian scientists studied blood samples from 34 male volunteers during different periods of their wives' pregnancy. As you know, in the body of women during pregnancy, a large amount of hormones is produced, primarily cortisol and estrodiol. After childbirth, their level drops sharply. To their surprise, the scientists found that some men also had hormonal changes during pregnancy: in particular, the level of cortisol, prolactin and testosterone increased, but not as much as in women. In addition, many - albeit in a milder form than their wives - showed symptoms characteristic of pregnancy.
Researchers have named this phenomenon "couvad syndrome". Valery Marilov, professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology of the RUDN University, says: “The term used in the name of the disease comes from the French verb couver, which means“to hatch chicks”. Couvad syndrome refers to a combination of psychogenic and psychosomatic disorders in young men with pregnant wives. The clinic of pathological sensations of a young husband corresponds to what happens to his wife who is expecting a child. If her appetite changes, all the eating behavior and the woman begins to eat little-edible food, then her husband suffers the same. He feels the same pain that his wife experiences, for example, when the pelvic bones are separated."
This syndrome manifests itself as a result of the launch of a psychosomatic mechanism, similar to a false pregnancy. Sometimes men even begin to grow a belly - usually the reason for this is an increase in body fat or a decrease in the tone of the abdominal muscles.
It happens that couvad syndrome manifests itself only during childbirth: for example, a husband, like a wife, experiences pain in the lower abdomen, characteristic of labor pains. It happens that men even end up with such pains on the operating table with suspected appendicitis.
What is the root of couvad syndrome?
“First of all, an unconscious anxiety for the fate of his wife and unborn child and, to a certain extent, a kind of feeling of guilt towards his wife,” says Professor Marilov. - Some psychoanalysts believe that a man's false pregnancy is often a manifestation of his identification with his mother in order to atone for his guilt before her. Couvad syndrome is also associated with the ritual of the same name among some ethnic groups, in which the husband goes to bed during the delivery of his wife, refuses to eat, screams and various body movements imitate childbirth, taking part of the pain on himself. This ritual was often used by medieval sorceresses, who transferred the pain of their wife to their husband, for which they quite often ended up on the fire of the Inquisition. As for the anthropological significance of such a ritual, here the interpretation is very
different - from the presence of reduced female reproductive organs in men to a kind of symbolic struggle with matriarchy. Couvad syndrome was described several centuries ago. According to foreign studies, 11% of men of childbearing age experienced this condition to some extent during their wife's pregnancy, that is, every ninth of future fathers had couvad syndrome.
Individual symptoms of this pathology are even more common. For example, in the United States, an abdominal variant of couvad syndrome was identified in 40% of the surveyed men with pregnant wives.
According to Marilov, couvad syndrome is a pathology that must be treated. "Such a person should be prescribed sedatives and recommend psychotherapy," says the scientist.