Zona claims she’s been pregnant more than three-and-a-half years and that no one believes her.
She claims that her breasts are tender, she has extreme mood swings and that her stomach moves – and that even though she had her tubes tied when she was 20, she’s “1,000 percent” certain she’s giving birth to multiples.
However, Zona says that when she goes to doctors and they perform tests, they always tell her she’s not pregnant. Zona claims she has what is known as a cryptic pregnancy.
“Cryptic pregnancy is a pregnancy that you do not show the HCG levels. Either at or around 20 weeks, it may show up, or through the whole entire pregnancy,” she tells Dr. Phil on Wednesday’s episode.
“Now with the cryptic pregnancy, your HCG levels are so low that the babies don’t even get bones until they’re 2-to-3 years old in the womb.”
A cryptic pregnancy is one that goes undetected or unnoticed until delivery. It refers to a medically defined condition called ‘denial of pregnancy’ (2). This means that you are pregnant, but the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels are too low to be detected in a blood or urine test.
Cryptic pregnancies usually occur in women who have been on birth control methods such as contraceptive pills, tubal ligation (tubes tied to prevent the sperm from entering the fallopian tube), etc.
These women come under the ‘least expected pregnancy category’ and experience common pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness mildly, or do not experience anything at all. These symptoms are mistaken as those of some other condition.
What Causes Cryptic Pregnancy?
Several hormonal and psychological reasons can lead to cryptic pregnancy. However, the psychological causes are lower than the hormonal.
- 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.