6 Astonishing Causes of Cryptic Pregnancy | Pregnancy Complications


You are pregnant, but you don’t know that you are. It sounds queer, but this is a reality. In medical terms, it is called cryptic pregnancy. Some of the astonishing causes of cryptic pregnancy are polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), recent pregnancy, low body fat, birth control pills early menopause and stress.

In this article:

What is Cryptic Pregnancy?
6 Main Causes for Cryptic Pregnancy
7 Symptoms of Cryptic Pregnancy
How to Confirm a Cryptic Pregnancy?
Can You be Pregnant for Years – Cryptic Pregnancy?
How Can Cryptic Pregnancy be Prevented?
How Long Does a Cryptic Pregnancy Last?
How to Manage My Pregnancy When I Have Cryptic Pregnancy?

What is Cryptic Pregnancy?

Women suffering from such queer pregnancy are not aware that they are pregnant until about 20 weeks of pregnancy. Alas, even doctors cannot diagnose her to be pregnant. Doctors depend on the HCG test to see whether a woman is pregnant or not.

HCG is Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone which is released by the placenta and is significantly elevated in pregnant women. But women suffering from cryptic pregnancy have little or no HCG in their reproductive system.

cause of cryptic pregnancy

As a result, the urine HCG test does not throw up a positive report for pregnancy. But they are pregnant for real, and they come to know about that until around the 20th week. Cryptic pregnancy is not common and affects about 1 in 500 women. 

6 Must Know Causes for Cryptic Pregnancy

Though the exact reasons for cryptic pregnancy are not known, there are several factors that can be attributed to this condition. Problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome, very early menopause, recent pregnancy, very low body fat, some birth control pills, stress etc can cause cryptic pregnancy. But one thing is common to all these factors is the risk of hormonal imbalance. 

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOD) 

If you are suffering from this disease, you must have been diagnosed with multiple numbers of small cysts on your ovaries. Even the ovaries may get enlarged due to these. These are neither malignant nor harmful, but can precipitate hormonal imbalances in your body.

Recent Pregnancy 

If you had been pregnant recently, the hormones may not have stabilized at their usual level within this time and need some time for the hormone levels to get back to their levels prior to pregnancy. This cause an imbalance in the level of various hormones. If you indulge in unprotected sex during this window of time, you may have a cryptic pregnancy since the level of HCG may not be detectable or significant at this time.

Low Body Fat 

If you have very low body fat then you are also susceptible to hormonal imbalance. Female hormones like estrogen is dependent on body fat because the thighs in women have several estrogen receptors. The production of estrogen is controlled by the pituitary gland, but it is produced in the placenta, the organ that appears during pregnancy and disappears after childbirth.

When body fat becomes too low the gland reduces the production of estrogen. Estrogen has a strong bearing on the symptoms of pregnancy such as growth of breasts, morning sickness weight gain. It also regulates the production of other hormones like HCG. So very low body fat may result in suppression of estrogen which may then lead to suppression of symptoms as well as suppression of production of HCG, the marker of pregnancy.

Birth Control Pills 

Some birth control pills may release hormones that have the effect of suppressing the normal hormones in women and are high in progesterone. But if you have already conceived a child, but still continue to take contraceptives, the pill will rather help your pregnancy while you are still unaware of the pregnancy.

Very Early Menopause

If there are signs of menopause then it is very likely that pregnancy symptoms will not show up. Menopause can start as early as in the 30s of a woman and in such cases, pregnancy often is not noticed.


High-stress level contribute to cryptic pregnancy. If you are under tremendous stress, your body will have high levels of stress hormones. This has the capacity to create a hormonal imbalance. If you are pregnant during this time the symptoms of pregnancy may not become obvious and may not be aware of the pregnancy.

7 Symptoms of Cryptic Pregnancy

It is surprising to see that the symptoms of cryptic pregnancy are almost the same as a normal pregnancy. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Gradual weight gain and also weight loss in some women
  • Frequent urination 
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Back, leg and hip pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

How to Confirm a Cryptic Pregnancy?

It is quite disturbing that cryptic pregnancy is usually not confirmed via urine tests or blood tests. Even ultrasound is not able to detect such pregnancies. One way to confirm cryptic pregnancy is by using a Doppler along with a finger pulse which helps in monitoring the fetal heart rate. 

Can You be Pregnant for Years – Cryptic Pregnancy?

There are different kinds of answers when it comes to the time span of cryptic pregnancy. Since the baby in this kind of pregnancy grows at an alarmingly slower rate so the pregnancy can span for more than 40 weeks.

How Can Cryptic Pregnancy be Prevented?

Being aware is the only way to prevent cryptic pregnancy. Women in the reproductive age of their life should be careful and aware of their bodies and should know that she might have cryptic pregnancy. If changes or pain are noted in the pelvic region or in the abdomen, it is important to consult a doctor. Also, many women do not have regular periods. This is a matter of concern and the doctor must be informed about the same. In case any problem persists, treatments need to be done which is done after a thorough check-up.

How Long Does a Cryptic Pregnancy Last?

The gestation period of a cryptic pregnancy is way longer than that of a normal pregnancy because the fetus cannot develop properly due to the lack of hCG hormones and because they cannot be absorbed by the body. Also, regular menstruation also lengthens the gestation period for quite some time. It might take almost 40 weeks in a cryptic pregnancy for the delivery to happen.

How to Manage My Pregnancy When I Have Cryptic Pregnancy?

The biggest problem with cryptic pregnancy is that it remains undetected until quite an advanced stage. Therefore, pregnancy management during cryptic pregnancy is something that is difficult to do. However, once the pregnancy is detected, say after 20 weeks or so, proper care should be taken as in normal pregnancy. There should be an emphasis on good nutrition.


It is difficult for a woman to become aware of pregnancy if she is suffering from cryptic pregnancy. You may not have symptoms like morning sickness, high weight gain etc. Moreover, there is mild and irregular menstruation. You may also have vaginal bleeding with spotting. However, in most cases, women become aware within 20 weeks or so.