Couvade Syndrome, also known as male pregnancy experience, sympathetic pregnancy or “pregnant dad syndrome”, typically refers to the condition in which certain physical symptoms of pregnancy becomes evident in fathers-to-be, before the birth of their child.
The term Couvade Syndrome is applicable to the physical symptoms experienced by men during their wives’ pregnancy and ranges from toothache, nausea and weight gain to mild backaches. According to recent reports, 80 percent of expectant fathers undergo these symptoms, at some stage of their partner’s pregnancy. It is a common opinion that the active participation of fathers in the delivery room as comforters or coaches is the primary cause of these pregnancy symptoms appearing in men.
Causes of Couvade Syndrome
Strange but true, some of the causes attributed to Couvade Syndrome are as diverse as male guilt for impregnating his woman and making her go through the symptoms, jealousy in regards to a woman’s ability to bear a child or plain sibling rivalry-in which the male counterpart ends up regarding his partner as a competitor who needs to be outperformed. These explanations are more prevalent among the European physicians rather than the American ones.
Real biological changes taking place inside the expectant father’s body points to a higher percentage of Estradiol, a female hormone in their saliva and blood. One of the other causes of this syndrome in many men is the lower levels of Testosterone, the male sex hormone.
Changed Social Roles
The social responsibilities and expectations connected with fatherhood makes expectant fathers react to their changed status and role with the symptoms of Couvade Syndrome. As they try to “work through” the circumstances and feelings, they start emulating some of the most prominent symptoms of their pregnant partners. The syndrome does not reflect mental illness in any way and is referred to as a set of psychosomatic symptoms caused or initiated by psychological or emotional factors.
Symptoms of Couvade Syndrome
Some of the common symptoms experienced by to-be-fathers suffering from Couvade Syndrome are vomiting and nausea, weight gain, loss of appetite, diarrhea or constipation, food cravings, tooth ache, sleep disturbances, stomach cramps, itchy skin, nose bleeds, food cravings and headache.
Few men may however develop more serious and dramatic symptoms which usually develop in the 3rd-4th month of their wives’ pregnancy. The syndrome is considered to be more common amongst first time fathers, though many existing fathers also go through the same conditions during the birth of their other children.
Couvade Syndrome Treatment
There is no mainstream or standard treatment which is recommended for Couvade syndrome as the same is not categorically mentioned in the general medical books. Simple reassurance and explanations for the causes of their condition can help alleviate these symptoms to a certain extent. Yoga, t’ai chi and other relaxation techniques go a long way in helping expectant fathers calm down. Herbal remedies along with peppermint and ginger tea also help in some cases.
Couvade Syndrome is perfectly curable and requires good consultation and help from professionally trained experts and doctors.