Achieving pregnancy is the “Joy of motherhood” because it is an amazing period in a woman’s life-cycle.
Although many difficulties come along the line which pose lots of worries yet pregnancy is the dream of every household.
One of the biggest challenges women face is Cryptic pregnancy. It comes in different forms and not all pregnancies can be detected before delivery.
In fact, there are some cases a woman will not know she is pregnant until she goes into labour. This and many more are things you need to know to help yourself and your loved ones.
What is Cryptic Pregnancy?
Cryptic pregnancy is also referred to as stealth or asymptomatic pregnancy. It is a kind of pregnancy that has little or no detectable Human Chorionic Gonadotroapin (HCG) in the mother’s system. It refers to a medically defined condition called denial of Pregnancy
A cryptic pregnancy occurs when a pregnant woman is unaware of her pregnancy due to very subtle pregnancy symptoms. And this happens to most of the women who had been told that they could not have children or those that have undergone sterilization. In these cases, the HCG levels are low and hence the reason for an undetected pregnancy.
It is important to note that a baby that produces a scant amount of HCG might go “under the radar,” whereby failing the pregnancy test and going undetected by the mother.
A vast majority of women who go through a cryptic pregnancy will continue to have some sort of “period” like bleeding through the entire period. The HCG never allowed building up and secrete into the urine or blood, because some of it is shed every time she bleeds and this is the cause of so many negative pregnancy tests.
Why Is Cryptic Pregnancy Different From Normal Pregnancy?
Cryptic Pregnancy remains a secret because of these reasons: although in some cases the symptoms could be similar to those of normal pregnancy.
- You may have regular periods throughout the pregnancy, though the number of bleeding days may be less. Spotting and bleeding due to implantation could be mistaken for a regular period.
- Urine and blood tests and ultrasound show negative.
- You might have recurrent early labor signs such as contractions and period like pain.
- Slow pregnancy belly growth as the baby is at the back of the womb (at the spine).
- Fetal movements inside the womb are mistaken for gas and bloating.
Causes Of Asymptomatic/ Cryptic Pregnancy
Several hormonal and psychological reasons can lead to cryptic pregnancy. However, the psychological causes are lower than the hormonal.
According to some doctors, a cryptic pregnancy can also be caused when the woman is simply stressed out. Apparently, in this case, it is in the fetus’s best interest for the mother to be happily oblivious to the fact that she’s pregnant.
Well, sometimes, the normal stresses of a pregnancy combined with other stresses in a mother’s life can lead to miscarriage. But a ‘cryptic’ pregnancy that uses few resources in a mother’s body can actually increase the foetus’s chance of survival.
The following are the likely causes of Cryptic Pregnancy
- Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Recent Pregnancy
- Hormones haven’t gone back to normal after a recent pregnancy and/or breastfeeding
- Undetected perimenopause
- Low body fat
- High stress level
- Using a birth control method such as Norplant, Nexplanon, Depo-Provera or the MIRENA COIL
- Using HCG oral drops or injections for weight loss
- Taking the morning after pill
- Eating large amounts of soy products
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): Small cysts form on the enlarged ovaries. Though not harmful or cancerous, they can cause hormonal imbalances in the body.
- Recent pregnancy: Hormones may take time to get back to normal after your pregnancy. If you are pregnant immediately, there would be hormonal imbalance causing a cryptic pregnancy.
- Low body fat could trigger a hormonal imbalance as in the case of athletes.
- Perimenopause is the time when the body starts showing up signs of progression to menopause. It can start as early as in the 30s, making the pregnancy go unidentified.
- Birth control pills such as Deprovera, Norplant, or Mirena Coil release more hormones which affect the normal pregnancy hormones making them vulnerable to pregnancy.
- High-stress levels can cause a cryptic pregnancy as they influence the hormones. Stress is one of the major factors of fluctuating hormone levels, especially in women.
How To Know If You Are Having Asymptomatic/ Stealth Pregnancy
first and foremost the menstrual periods continue to flow for several months, the color of the secretion and their intensity change to either black, red, pink or even purple, but most times women do not pay any attention to this; if the fetus is fixed unstable, there are abundant periods, the body balances on the verge of failing pregnancy, it may be considered as a sign of unstable hormonal background.
There are situations where the woman gain small weight especially if the woman does not lead a sporty lifestyle, this is perceived as a natural process, especially if she is inclined to be overweight. Fetal development also happens without toxicosis, although it happens rarely. It is worse, when all the symptoms of pregnancy are present, but there is no fetus in the uterus, instead of it there is a tumor.
In this case, sometimes even an ultrasound can be wrong. Sometimes doctors see the obvious manifestations of self-hypnosis – a woman really wants to get pregnant. In rare cases, this is a consequence of mental disorders.
Signs And Symptoms Of Cryptic Pregnancy
The symptoms of cryptic pregnancy are similar to a regular pregnancy. Note that the symptoms vary from one woman to the other.
- Food aversions
- Frequent urination
- Weight gain
- Abdominal cramps
- Metallic taste in the mouth and in most cases Women with symptoms of denied or cryptic pregnancy may not have the usual symptoms of pregnancy such as nausea, vomiting, cessation of periods, and enlargement of the abdomen. Also, Women going through a cryptic pregnancy may also suffer from the following symptoms:
- Skin problems like acne, itching and rashes
- Heart palpitations
- Skin tags
- Muscle aches
- Vision problems
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Changes in breasts (size, sensitivity, itching, shooting pains)
The pregnancy symptoms may come and go. You may not “feel” pregnant all the time. Frequently during the periods, the pregnancy symptoms will subside.
How To Prevent Cryptic/Stealth Pregnancy
Cryptic pregnancies are hard to detect and will upset your life as you will not have any time to prepare. Be aware of the chances of such a pregnancy and keep you gynaecologist in the loop about your reproductive health.
Therefore, if you are in the reproductive age of your life, then you must be aware that you could have a cryptic pregnancy. If you experience any pain or changes in your abdomen or pelvic region, then you must consult with a doctor regarding the same as soon as possible. If you do not get your periods regularly, then you must inform your gynaecologist of this condition for a thorough check-up.
How Long Can A Cryptic Pregnancy Last?
The pregnancy period for a cryptic pregnancy is much longer than that of a regular pregnancy. This is due to the fact that the HCG hormone is not absorbed by the body and so it does not get the signals to focus on developing the foetus. Regular periods also prolong the gestation period. The pregnancy period is correlated to the flow of the period. The heavier the flow, the longer the gestation period. Cryptic pregnancies can take more than 40 weeks and have been known to last as long as two years.
What Happens to the Foetus In the Cryptic/Stealth Pregnancy?
In cryptic pregnancy, the development of the fetus is delayed and interrupted frequently, taking place at an extremely slow pace. But this does not necessarily affect the health of the fetus. The mother would go to the hospital only when she has severe stomach and back cramps, that is, during labour.
Risks of Cryptic Pregnancy
- The mother does not usually have any prenatal care.
- The delivery is usually at home or unassisted.
- Any prenatal complications such as blood group incompatibility,
- hypertension, or diabetes, may go undetected and put the mother and baby at risk.
- The mother may practice dangerous behaviors such as alcohol or substance abuse because of the lack of awareness of the foetus.
However, In most cases, the baby is born alive and healthy, with the woman realizing that she is pregnant only when she gives birth. Adjustment problems are thus a possibility, though it is rare.
Can Cryptic Pregnancy Turn Normal?
Asymptomatic or cryptic pregnancy is a very normal pregnancy, many people think it’s abnormal to have cryptic pregnancy. It is very normal the only cryptic aspect is the mother’ denial or subjective belief that she is ‘not’ pregnant. From a biological stance/ perspective often time these mothers have low HCG levels in their blood or urine tests. This does not mean they are not pregnant. Rarely socioeconomic situations prevent them from going to regular scans and tests to see how the growth of the pregnancy is developing.