What Is A Cryptic Pregnancy?


Created by Ekta
Updated on May 16, 2022

What Is A Cryptic Pregnancy
Reviewed by Expert panel

You might have read a strange or odd story in the newspaper about a woman who went to the hospital due to severe stomach pain and to her amazement, delivers a baby. Can we expect a woman to bear a baby all the way to labour without ever realizing she is pregnant? Yes, it is possible for a woman to go through the gestation period, totally unaware of her pregnancy till the day of delivery. Does it sound unbelievable? Well, it is possible to carry a baby all the way to the delivery without even realizing that you are pregnant. This situation is referred to as Cryptic pregnancy.

What is cryptic pregnancy?

A Cryptic Pregnancy is a pregnancy in which there is insignificant or no hCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone normally produced by the placenta. If you are pregnant, you can detect it in your urine) both in the blood and urine. The fetus may go undetected by mother and doctors, due to lack of symptoms and as it may not appear in ultrasounds, until delivery.

Most of the mothers reported that they were least anticipating pregnancy as they were under different birth control measures and therefore, might have dismissed signs of pregnancy (if any) as signs of any other health issues.

Why it goes undetected?

A cryptic pregnancy goes undetected because of negative urine and a blood pregnancy test, uninterrupted monthly periods, typical pregnancy symptoms and at times, negative ultrasounds.

What causes a cryptic pregnancy?

Cryptic pregnancy can be caused by a number of factors. The underlying cause is the hormone imbalance. Any conditions that trigger hormonal imbalance can increase the odds of cryptic pregnancy.

  • Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): The small cysts in the ovary which are not cancerous and harmful associated with PCOS can cause excessive release of hormones by the body, making it difficult to detect a pregnancy in proper tests.
  • High stress: Elevated-stress levels of the women are found directly related to cryptic pregnancy, as this alters the body chemistry, thereby, fooling the pregnancy test.
  • Peri-menopause: Perimenopause is referred to around the time of menopause as the body shows signs of progression towards the menopause. It can set in as early as in the '30s, making the pregnancy go unidentified.
  • Birth control method: Certain birth control methods that continually releases hormones into the body fools the body by releasing more hormones, thereby, giving clues that a woman is not pregnant. These birth control measures even keep up pretty regular menstruation as well.
  • Recent pregnancy: A recent pregnancy can cause hormonal fluctuations and hormones may not have time to go back to normal before falling pregnant again. This, thereby, mask the presence of hCG in the blood and urine, resulting in cryptic pregnancy.
  • Still nursing: The hormones of women still breastfeeding are not back to normal, and getting pregnant during this time (during hormonal imbalance) can end up in cryptic pregnancy
  • Low body fat: Women with very low body fat (like an athlete) often bump into hormonal imbalances, which make it difficult to detect the presence of hCG in the blood and urine.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cryptic Pregnancy?

The symptoms of cryptic pregnancy will be as same as a normal pregnancy. However its intensity and frequency will be minimal, therefore one might easily overlook it.  However, if you have one or more of the following symptoms, and if there is no other possible cause for the appearance of these symptoms, it is better to share your concern with your gynecologist. The symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Food aversion
  • Food cravings
  • Unexpected changes in body weight
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Increased sense of smell
  • Heartburn
  • Pain in back, hip, and leg

All these signs will differ in severity for each individual. Women going through a cryptic pregnancy may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Skin issues like acne, itching, and rashes
  • Muscle aches
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Issues with vision
  • Changes in size of breasts

What Are The Complication Of Cryptic Pregnancy?

As there is no prenatal care, problems like hypertension and diabetes may remain untreated. This could adversely affect the mother and the baby’s health.

How To Prevent Cryptic Pregnancy?

If you are in childbearing age group or in perimenopause phase, be aware of cryptic pregnancy and its symptoms and if you feel any pain and discomfort in the abdominal/pelvic region, irregular period, then consult your gynecologist and undertake a detailed check-up.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Mar 16, 2019


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| Oct 05, 2019

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| May 13, 2022

Your article has answered my long-standing questions about what is a confusing pregnancy? Updates! fall guys

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