Tools and Resources

Couvade syndrome: Is sympathetic pregnancy real?

What can you tell me about Couvade syndrome? Can men really experience sympathetic pregnancy symptoms?

Couvade syndrome is a term used to describe a situation in which an otherwise healthy man whose partner is expecting a baby experiences pregnancy-related symptoms. While some research suggests that Couvade syndrome (sympathetic pregnancy) is common, it isn't a recognized mental illness or disease. Further studies are needed to determine whether Couvade syndrome is a physical condition with psychological causes.

Symptoms reported to be associated with Couvade syndrome vary widely and typically occur only during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. Physical symptoms may include nausea, heartburn, abdominal pain, bloating, appetite changes, respiratory problems, toothaches, leg cramps, backaches, and urinary or genital irritations. Psychological symptoms that may be related to Couvade syndrome include changes in sleeping patterns, anxiety, depression, reduced libido and restlessness.

Whether Couvade syndrome is real or not, what's certain is that becoming a new dad can be exciting, emotional and stressful. If you're a man whose partner is pregnant, take steps to manage stress and prepare for fatherhood. Attend prenatal classes. Seek out advice and encouragement from friends and family. Talk to your partner. Understanding and planning for the challenges ahead can help ease your transition into fatherhood.

Updated: 3/18/2011

© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to content provided to this site by MayoClinic.com/Mayo Clinic Health Information. Use thereof signifies your agreement to these terms of use.