Monday, December 6, 2010

The Elusive Couvade Syndrome

Pregnancy symptoms are not limited to women alone according to Dr. Jitesh Chawla

Pregnancy is a normal medical condition reserved for females only. However, medicine is full of surprises and now there is clinically recognized condition in which male partners of pregnant women experience the same syndromes. Couvade Syndrome is named after the French word “couver” which means to brood. Men experience all the same symptoms –nausea, vomiting, back pain and about the same time that their female partners do. It is not clear biologically what causes this syndrome it not entirely clear but can be related to a number of factors.

One such factor is a sense of attachment in fathers that can be mediated by neuropeptides (vasopressin, oxytocin), as well as, environmental influences. An example of this could be that if a pregnant woman ends up doing much of the shopping and cooking, as well as gets cravings, her husband eats a lot and gains weight.

The rates of Couvade Syndrome are not well known as it is not always reported. Recent study published in JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association reported 10.4 percent of men suffered from depression sometime between the first trimester of their partner's pregnancy and the child's first birthday. Biological researchers have largely ignored this medical phenomena though they have known about it for a while. One investigator from University of Toronto has found out that high levels of prolactin hormone correlate with the father’s bonding.


  1. I've known of several people who have experienced this with their wives or girlfriends. It's so fascinating.