My wife is about four months pregnant and I’m really excited about becoming a dad. The problem is that I’ve recently put on some weight. I’ve also been having nosebleeds and I’m vomiting a lot (which is weird, since I almost never do either one). I’m too embarrassed to talk to my wife about this and I’m certainly not going to ask my doctor. Why is this happening?
As bizarre as it seems, what you’re describing is relatively common. Men’s psychological experience of pregnancy is just as profound as women’s. But even though men aren’t physically pregnant, they still can — as you’ve discovered — experience some physical symptoms. And we’re not talking about just a few guys. Between 25 and 90 percent of expectant fathers have a “sympathetic” pregnancy, also called couvade syndrome, from the French “to hatch.”
Men’s symptoms are often similar to women’s: food cravings, mood swings, weight gain. Other common symptoms are a bit stranger (but plenty of women experience them too), including toothaches, headaches, nosebleeds, cramps (admittedly, pretty weird for a guy) and cysts.
Couvade symptoms in men tend to appear at the same time as their partner starts showing — around four months. They may fade after a month or so, but will often reappear a month or two before the baby is born. For most, symptoms tend to disappear right after the birth.
Why does this happen? No one knows for sure, but there are plenty of theories. The first has to do with…
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