Couvade Syndrome: Everything You Need to Know


During pregnancy it is common that a woman experiences various health issues like weight gain, constipation, gas, heartburn, insomnia, nausea, frequent dizziness etc, but have you ever heard about a man having pregnancy symptoms? You might instantly say “never”, so, here we are today with an article that talks about male pregnancy symptoms or as known in biological terms, the ‘Couvade Syndrome’.

couvade syndrome symptoms

In this article:

What is a Couvade Syndrome?
When Does Couvade Syndrome Start?
Why do men get Couvade Syndrome?
Symptoms of Couvade Syndrome
Is Sympathetic Pregnancy Real?
Treatment for Couvade Syndrome

All You Need to Know about Couvade Syndrome

What is a Couvade Syndrome?

Couvade syndrome is a condition where men whose partners are expecting babies experience pregnancy symptoms. This might be absurd to hear but it is not an uncommon fact. After hearing about it people might think of it as some mental illness, but studies call it ‘Sympathetic pregnancy’. In brief terms, a man who is suffering from couvade syndrome has symptoms that mimic pregnancy, i.e. he might show symptoms similar to his pregnant partner.

When Does Couvade Syndrome Start?

According to research studies, couvade syndrome in men starts during the first trimester of pregnancy. The symptoms are similar to those experienced by pregnant woman. Men who are expecting their first child usually tend to experience this syndrome. During the first trimester when the woman starts feeling nausea and fatigue, the man starts showing similar symptoms and as they gradually reach the third trimester, symptoms like a bloated stomach, sleeplessness, weight gain, leg cramps, back aches, respiratory problems etc, can be noticed in both.

Why do men get Couvade Syndrome?

There are two suspected reasons for expectant fathers getting couvade syndrome:


According to studies, stress releases some chemicals in the body which manifest sympathetic pregnancy. Therefore, in simple terms, when men see their partners going through various health issues during pregnancy, they unconsciously experience extreme levels of stress which lowers their testosterone levels eventually resulting in out-of-balanced estrogen levels, hence creating pregnancy like symptoms.


When a man looks at his pregnant partner, he unconsciously empathizes (putting himself in her shoe) her situation, which makes him to feel or experience real symptoms of pregnancy like his partner.

Symptoms of Couvade Syndrome

The symptoms associated with couvade syndrome typically occur only in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. They are as follows:

Physical Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain, bloating
  • Appetite changes
  • Leg cramps, back aches
  • Urinary or genital irritations

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced libido

Is Sympathetic Pregnancy Real?

Physicians, gynecologists, or researchers say that sympathetic pregnancy in men is not an uncommon condition. They say that these symptoms or this condition is normal in every man whose partner is expecting a baby. The stress levels and empathetic feelings cause for the condition which is perfectly natural in all men.

Gaining weight during pregnancy is as normal in men as it is in women. As we have discussed before, the chemical changes in mens body make them to experience most of the symptoms like a pregnant women, therefore, when their partner gains weight, men also tend to experience a bloated stomach, increased weight in legs or hands or increased overall weight. All these symptoms in men are common and observable, it is just that not all are aware of the reasons or the syndrome itself, or simply ignore everything in the excitement of welcoming their baby.

Treatment for Couvade Syndrome

This is not a harmful illness or disease which one needs to be worried of. These are very common symptoms in pregnant parents, so feeling everything together should kind of be an excitement rather than a matter of worry. But if the symptoms of this syndrome get severe or if your man is experiencing extreme levels of stress then checking in with your doctor is well recommended.

Men who experience extreme couvade have more than little fatigue or mild swelling. They may begin to notice breast enlargement due to the increased prolactin, in such cases going to a mental health treatment is required to reduce anxiety.