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What Is A Cryptic Pregnancy?

5 min read

Cryptic Pregnancy
Cryptic pregnancy is the name given to a pregnancy that the mother is not aware of. Yes, it happens that a woman is totally ignorant of her pregnancy till the day she delivers a baby. Does it sound scary? Unbelievable? Believe us. It is possible to carry a baby all the way to the delivery without even realizing that you are pregnant.
Though it seem strange, this happens, that too, more often than you imagine. A study shows one out of about five hundred pregnancies goes undetected by the mother till 20th week of gestation. And one out of around 7225 pregnant mothers get to know about the pregnancy only when they go into the labor. Source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16997498

What Is A Cryptic Pregnancy?

Cryptic pregnancy is a condition in which the state of pregnancy goes undetected until delivery. Some of these cases are reported by women who were told that they will not conceive by different systems of medical practices. Some of them may be on contraceptive pills or might have even tied their tubes. All these factors put them under ‘least expected to get pregnant’ category. Common pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue are experienced by some women mildly, or there may be no such symptom. Most women are not anticipating a pregnancy and so they will dismiss these mild symptoms as symptoms due to some other condition.

What Are The Signs Of A Cryptic Pregnancy?

The signs of cryptic pregnancy are NOT typical like a normal pregnancy. Such as:

  • Negative results in urine or blood pregnancy test
  • Negative ultrasound scan results (most of the time
  • Monthly period-like bleeding through the entire pregnancy, though, the number of days will be half that of the normal period. As it is, sometimes spotting and bleeding happens during pregnancy, and this may be mistaken for periods
  • Absence of typical pregnancy symptoms like nausea and vomiting, or they are there as very mild
  • Slow growth of pregnancy belly as the baby is more often nestled towards the back of the womb (towards the spine of the mother)
  • The movement inside the womb can be easily similar to the gas passing through

What Causes A Cryptic Pregnancy?

There are a number of reasons behind a cryptic pregnancy, some are hormonal and other psychological, though, the cases fall under the psychological reasons are comparatively very few in numbers. The most important reason of cryptic pregnancy is the hormonal imbalance of the women like:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): Small cysts in the ovary which are not cancerous and harmful, but can cause hormonal imbalance in the woman
  • Resent pregnancy: Getting pregnant immediately after a resent pregnancy and the hormones are not able to fall back into the normal level can cause hormonal imbalance leading to a cryptic pregnancy
  • Perimenopause: Perimenopause is referred to around the time of menopause as the body shows signs of progression towards the menopause. This can occur even in thirties and go unidentified
  • Low body fat: The women (like an athlete) with low body fat can trigger hormonal imbalance
  • Lactating mothers: The mothers, still breastfeeding their babies, obviously, still have the hormones which don’t fall to normal levels
  • Birth control measures: The women who have used birth control methods (which obviously failed) recently (during getting pregnant) which release hormones continuously into the blood stream can cause cryptic pregnancy

How Is A Negative Pregnancy Test Result Possible?

HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is the pregnancy hormone which turns the pregnancy test positive. In a normal pregnancy, the placenta secretes HCG and it gets passed into the lining of the uterine wall. There, it gradually builds up to a sufficient amount and gets released into urine and blood of the mother, thus, getting detected in the pregnancy tests. Whereas:

  • In cryptic pregnancy, the level of this hormone in the blood or urine of the mother’s system will be negligible, thus, failing the pregnancy test
  • The lining of the uterine wall is shed periodically in a cryptic pregnancy. This often further suppress the level of HCG secretion and its releasing into the blood or urine of the mother
  • No pregnancy test is 100% accurate, so there is a chance that if not anticipating a pregnancy, a woman will not take the test again.
    All this will make the pregnancy test negative. The same hormone is responsible for nausea and vomiting. As the amount of this hormone is too little, these typical pregnancy signs will also be missing

Can A Cryptic Pregnancy Go Undetected In An Ultrasound?

Though an ultrasound should detect a pregnancy if it is there, some results of the ultrasound during a cryptic pregnancy will be negative. This could happen if the lab technician is not so experienced in detecting the pregnancy due to the below mentioned abnormalities.

  • Tilted uterus: Normally the uterus will be in a vertical position. However, some women have uterus which inclined toward the back of pelvis. This position of the uterus makes it difficult for the fetus to be seen during an ultrasound
  • Bicornuate uterus: Normally the uterus will be of pear shaped. In bicornuate uterus the shape of the uterus will be heart shaped with two horns. There will be a wall inside the uterus splitting (either partially or completely) the uterus. Only careful and experienced sonographers can detect a pregnancy in this type of uterus
  • Abnormal scar tissue: The abnormal scar tissue can be formed inside the womb due to several reasons. Some of the reasons are:
    • Abdominal surgeries
    • C-sections
    • Tummy tucks

These scar tissues possibly require a careful observation for a pregnancy to be detected.

Why A Cryptic Pregnancy Has A Longer Gestational Period?

This is because HCG never gets into the maternal system as in normal pregnancy, the maternal body will be incapable of generating signals which are significant for the development of the baby. Thus, the fetus in the cryptic pregnancy grows much slower and thus the pregnancy takes longer period to complete. The cryptic babies are found to measure significantly smaller than they should be at that particular gestational period. This answers the longer gestational period
Another reason is, continued period throughout the pregnancy time. It is also found that the heavier the bleeding, longer will be the gestational period.

How Can A Woman Not Find She Is Pregnant When She Misses Her Periods?

The first thing that someone would say about a cryptic pregnancy is how can a woman not anticipate a pregnancy when she misses on her periods? But the thing to understand here is that NOT all women have monthly and regular menstrual cycles. And if they continue to bleed occasionally also during the pregnancy, a woman might mistake it as a period bleeding. The less bleeding may be attributed to stress or other problems. Sometimes, irregular bleeding may be mistaken as a sign of menopause.
The point to note here is that if you experience some of the pregnancy symptoms or there is something that doesn’t feel quite right, make an appointment with the doctor as soon as possible.
***DISCLAIMER: Not all information in this article has been backed with medical evidences. The Administrator/owner/editor/author of this page/website, and any associates working with the management of this page disclaim any liability in connection with the use of information contained on this page***

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