You know that show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant? The TLC hit basically retells the stories of women–in cringeworthy actor reenactment form–who suddenly go into labor after unknowingly being pregnant for months. Months. Can you imagine just doing something totally typical, like shopping with your friends, or watching Netflix and scarfing down cold leftover pizza, and then one minute later find a baby trying to escape the confines of your vagina? Horrific, right? Well, what about the other way around: People who are convinced that they’re pregnant, but aren’t.
Recently, the internet collectively side eyed a 19-year-old woman who appeared on Dr. Phil and revealed to the world that she’s pregnant…with baby Jesus. However, her family is convinced that this is all a charade. While she has allegedly gained at least 22 pounds over the course of her “pregnancy” and even reported feeling the baby kick, all of her pregnancy tests have come back negative! But believe it or not, it is possible to experience several symptoms of pregnancy without being pregnant. Yeah, that sounds nuts, but it’s absolutely true. It’s a condition called pseudocyesis, in which someone is so convinced that they’re pregnant that the body actually starts to act pregnant. Yeah, it’s as weird as it sounds. Check out these nine weird facts about phantom pregnancy that will freak you out.
The Stomach Actually Does Get BiggerObviously, it's hard to fake a pregnancy without anything to show for it; most notably: a big ol' belly. Well, no worries, people who experience false pregnancy also manage to have an expanding stomach to match. The brain can essentially trick the stomach into swelling and convince the body to store more weight. FUN FACT: Even male bodied folks can experience this symptom, and others, and it's all...in...their...heads.Juno
False Pregnancy Can Make You LactateHOW. WEIRD. IS. THIS? You can straight up have secretions from your breasts when you aren't even pregnant, just by the act of convincing yourself that you're pregnant. Wild. Absolutely wild. Keeping Up With The Kardashians
People With False Pregnancies Can Feel Their Baby Moving In Their WombUm, talk about a horror story situation: Many people who aren't really pregnant but think they are and even look as if they are report feeling their nonexistent baby kicking inside the womb. Um, bye! YouTube/Michael Jackson Vevo
Periods StopSkipping a period is a worst nightmare for anyone who might be worried about becoming pregnant...or a massive blessing for someone who really wants a bun in the oven. Well, for folks who are so convinced that they're pregnant that their body actually acts as such, infrequent or halted menstruation is common. iStock.com
Morning Sickness OccursPop culture has taught us to always keep an eye out for characters who suddenly have to puke in movies. Why? Because morning sickness is a big nudge nudge at a pregnancy plot. Well, when your brain convinces the body that it's pregnant, some poor unfortunate soul's bathroom becomes puke city...even if they're not pregnant. Yikes. Ginger Snaps
False Pregnancy Often Happens To People Who Really Want A Baby Or Are Afraid Of Having OneYou know that part in Grease where Rizzo is worried that she's pregnant and sings that song about how sad she is that everyone is slut shaming her? Well, needless to say, she really didn't want to be pregnant, but that could actually make one's propensity to experience false pregnancy even higher. Likewise, a massive thirst for becoming pregnant can also trigger false pregnancy, especially if they've had a miscarriage or are infertile. Grease
Dysfunctional Living Situations And Relationships Could Increase One's Chances Of False PregnancyThe brain and body does weird things under stress, and false pregnancy might just be one of those things. For example, false pregnancy occurs most often in underdeveloped nations where poverty is widespread and medical care is infrequent. Other false pregnancy triggers can include dysfunctional/abusive relationships, poor education, and sexual abuse. Skins
People With PCOS Might Be More Susceptible To False PregnancyOne study indicates that people who experience false pregnancy also tend to have polycystic ovary syndrome. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much research in that department, however. Sarah Wintner
The Symptoms Can Last From Days To YearsSome people experience these signs of pregnancy--no matter how false it is--for a few weeks. Others go through nine whole months of symptoms. But get this: Some folks have symptoms for years. A never ending pregnancy is enough to convince someone that they're maybe probably sort of definitely not pregnant, right? 90210
On a scale of one to ten, how effing freaky is this? Tell us in the comments!