It would seem that the combination of the terms “man” and “pregnancy” is impossible – the male body is simply not adapted to carry a child. However, the phenomenon of “male pregnancy” does occur. True, it has purely psychological roots.
For a man whose wife is expecting a baby, there also comes a difficult time. Due to certain physiological processes, the woman begins to experience sometimes unpleasant symptoms – toxicosis, tearfulness, frequent mood swings. Of course, all this can not not act on 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 labor, even a kind of contractions.
So how can all this be explained? A group of Canadian scientists studied the blood samples of 34 male volunteers at different periods of pregnancy of their wives. As we know, women’s bodies produce a large number of hormones during pregnancy. large amounts of hormones, primarily cortisol and estradiol. After giving birth, their levels drop dramatically. To their surprise, scientists found out that some men also had changes in their hormonal background during pregnancy: In particular, the levels of cortisol, prolactin and testosterone increased, but not as much as those of women. In addition, many of them, though in a milder form than their wives, exhibited symptoms characteristic of pregnancy.
Researchers have given the phenomenon the name “Couvade Syndrome.” Valery Marilov, professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology at the PFUR, says: “The term used in the name of the disease comes from the French verb couver, which means “to hatch chicks.” Couvade syndrome refers to a set of psychogenic and psychosomatic disorders in young men who have pregnant wives.
The young husband’s clinic of pathological feelings corresponds to what happens to his wife who is expecting a child. If her appetite and entire eating behavior change and the woman begins to eat little edible food, her husband suffers from the same. He feels the same painful sensations as his wife, for example, when her pelvic bones are separated.
This syndrome is caused by the launch of the psychosomatic mechanism, similar to a false pregnancy. Sometimes men even begin to grow a belly – usually caused by an increase in fat deposits or a decrease in the tonus of the abdominal muscles.
It happens that Kuwad syndrome manifests itself only during childbirth: for example, the husband, like his wife, experiences lower abdominal pain characteristic of labor pains. It happens that men are even taken to the operating table with such pains and suspected appendicitis.
What lies at the root of couvade syndrome
“First of all, unconscious anxiety for the fate of his wife and future child and, to some extent, a kind of guilt before his wife,” believes Professor Marilov. – Some psychoanalysts believe that the false pregnancy in men is often a manifestation of his identification with his mother to make up for the guilt against her. Kuwad syndrome is also associated with the same name ritual in some ethnic groups, in which the husband during his wife’s labor lies in bed, refuses to eat, shouting and various body movements imitates labor, taking part of the pain on itself.
This ritual was often used by medieval sorceresses, who transferred the wife’s pain to her husband, for which they often ended up on the bonfire of the Inquisition. As for the anthropological meaning of such a ritual, there are a variety of interpretations The anthropological meaning of this ritual is very diverse, ranging from the presence of reduced female reproductive organs in men to a kind of symbolic struggle against matriarchy.
The Kuwad syndrome was described several centuries ago. According to foreign studies, 11% of men of childbearing age experienced this condition to some degree during the pregnancy of their wives, that is, one in nine of future fathers had Kuwad syndrome.
Individual symptoms of this pathology are even more common. For example, in the United States, an abdominal variant of Couvade syndrome was found in 40% of men surveyed who had pregnant wives.”
According to Marilow, couvade syndrome is a pathology that should be treated. “Such a person should be prescribed sedatives and recommended psychotherapy,” the scientist says.