Karabo Mokoena
2 minute read
15 Jun 2021
4:35 pm

Yes, men can experience pregnancy symptoms- here’s how

Karabo Mokoena

Physical changes are usually the first signs that make most moms suspect pregnancy, but dads can experience them too.

Couvade or sympathetic pregnancy causes men to experience pregnancy symptoms. Picture: iStock

Pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue, increased urination, swollen breasts and nausea are usually the first signs that make women test for pregnancy. Throughout the pregnancy journey, women experience physical changes due to the extra work their body undergoes to nurture and grow a baby.

As the journey progresses, weight gain becomes a norm and moods swing more than usual.

Some men have reported experiencing the same symptoms, especially nausea, mood swings and weight gain.

Couvade, or sympathetic pregnancy, is a condition experienced by some men when their partners are pregnant. According to Mayo Clinic, “couvade describes a situation in which otherwise healthy men whose partners are expecting babies experience pregnancy-related symptoms”. These men can either experience physical or psychological symptoms.

The physical symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Appetite changes
  • Respiratory problems
  • Toothache
  • Leg cramps
  • Backache
  • Urinary or genital irritations

Psychologically, men can experience sleep disturbances and anxiety. Couvade disorder is not recognised as a mental illness and further studies are still required to indicate that it is a physical one.

The lack of research is due to unreported cases. Men are never the centre of pregnancy, so what happens to them, both physically and emotionally, can easily go unnoticed.

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In a lot of cases, the mom is the one who notices the changes that dads experience. According to Scientific American, “a research team led by Anne Storey of Memorial University in Newfoundland found that when wives were asked about their husband’s experiences a higher incidence of couvade was reported than when the husbands answered the same questions at the same time”.

Men who have experienced pregnancy symptoms

In a video shared by registered nurse RN on YouTube, men started making sense of how they were feeling during their partner’s pregnancy. Some called the phenomenon “strange”, while others described it as being “scary”.

DandQ on YouTube shared his experience of going through pregnancy symptoms during his wife’s pregnancy in a video.

The symptoms are experienced by men who are close to their partner, thus it is called sympathetic pregnancy. The closer the couple, the more severe the symptoms. According to Scientific American “men who have deep empathy toward their pregnant partner and are prone to couvade symptoms end up with strong attachments to their child”.

In some cases, the man experiences the first signs of pregnancy, leading to confirmation after testing.

The symptoms are experienced in the first and the third trimester but luckily for them they know nothing about labour pains!