TikTok is filled with stories from women who didn’t realize they were pregnant until months later or even before they went into labor. This is also known as a stealth or cryptic pregnancy. Whenever one of the personal stories, posts, or videos gets noticed, the comments are flooded with messages from people who — understandably — have a lot of questions about what a cryptic pregnancy is, how it happens, how common the issue is, and more. You can find out more information about cryptic pregnancy here.
What is Cryptic Pregnancy and How Does It Work?
“A cryptic pregnancies is one that goes unrecognized longer than the expected time. [the first] 20 weeks of pregnancy or until delivery” says Karenne Fru M.D. Ph.D. F.A.C.O.G.. She is an ob-gyn at Oma Fertility.
Other terms may be used to describe the same phenomena. Cynthia Wesley M.D., ob-gyn, explains that “Cryptic”, and “stealth” can both be used interchangeably. “Prior to this, the term denied pregnancy’ was used. [psychology professor] Marco Del Giudice raised awareness of potential physiological contributing factors. He created the term “cryptic pregnancies” in 2006. These physiologic factors can include irregular menstruation or a history infertility that could lead to the person not realizing they are pregnant.
If you are familiar with the symptoms of pregnancy, or have experienced it yourself, these will be obvious. Dr. Fru states that most symptoms of pregnancy are the same as any. These include nausea and sensitivities to foods and smells, fatigue, heartburn and gas. “The loss of a period is the hallmark of most pregnancies, but cryptic pregnancies are less likely to have this symptom as some bleeding may occur — leading the pregnant person to believe that they are not, in fact, pregnant.” Although it may look period-like bleeding, it is not actually a period.
It is possible to wonder why the pregnant person doesn’t associate the symptoms with pregnancy, if the symptoms are so obvious. Dr. Fru says, “In the case cryptic pregnancies these symptoms tend to get dismissed or attributed to another causes.”
Dr. Fru says that there may not be any noticeable changes in the appearance of the pregnant woman, which could lead to suspicions of pregnancy. Dr. Wesley says that the fetus might be smaller than normal at times. “There are times when habitus is not present.” [i.e., physical build] It is difficult to see the bump of a pregnant woman.
What Are the Commonest Cryptic Pregnancies
Mentions of cryptic pregnancies tend to fascinate audiences — as evidenced by those TikTok posts — so you may think that they’re more common than they actually are. Dr. Wesley states that “cryptic pregnancies” are very rare. “Research [from 2002] It is estimated that approximately one in 475 people are affected by this. [pregnant] Women are not aware of their pregnancy until after they reach 20 weeks. Only 1 in 2,500 women have cryptic pregnancies. These pregnancies are the most popular in media coverage, but they only make up a small percentage of all cryptic pregnancies.
What Causes Cryptic Pregnancies Are?
There are many risk factors that can increase your chances of having an unidentified pregnancy. Dr. Fru states that women with irregular menstrual patterns or a history infertility are more likely to have cryptic pregnancies. For the former, they might not believe that they can spontaneously conceive, while for the latter, ovulation may be so unpredictable that they don’t think about missing a few months. There can also be spotting in early pregnancy. The pregnant woman may mistake the bleeding for regular periods. Some women have taken a pregnancy test. [that] Dr. Wesley notes that the result was negative. “It is important to remember that sometimes, urine pregnancy tests can give false negative results.”
These are not the only ones who may experience a cryptic birth. Dr. Fru says that even if they are on oral contraceptives, but have missed a dose, continued hormonal contraceptive pill use may mask symptoms. She says that contraceptives can sometimes cause side effects similar in nature to pregnancy (such as nausea). Dr. Fru says that cervical bleeding can also occur in certain individuals who are pregnant. This is especially true after penetrative sex. This is distinct from the uterine bleeding caused by birth control pills, but can also be seen as vaginal blood.
A cryptic pregnancy may also be more common in women who just gave birth. Dr. Fru says that postpartum women are at greater risk if they have not been protected and ovulate again a few weeks later. “Normally, this is because of the fact that being postpartum can lead to neglect.” [masking] Symptoms of pregnancy change may not be detected until several months later.
You should also consider demographic factors and mental health. Dr. Fru says that at least one study found that women who are younger and less well-off may ignore signs of pregnancy. “Sometimes, life stressors can cause a woman not to accept the fact she’s pregnant.” Note: << this latter example of stressors specifically? Although “denied pregnancies” was once used to describe the cause of cryptic pregnancy, it’s obvious that this term does not capture the entire picture.
Are there complications if a woman is pregnant with a cryptic baby?
People who experience a cryptic pregnancy often don’t seek out help until they find out they are pregnant. This can lead to certain aspects of the baby’s and their health being overlooked. Dr. Wesley says that sometimes their symptoms can be explained away by another health-care provider. Sometimes, women can have more than one. [health] She explains that there is no problem with the pregnancy and it is not being diagnosed.”
Dr. Fru says that “cryptic pregnancy” is a major problem. “This can often lead to low birth weight infants which is not ideal.” << because? Although it seems obvious, let us close the loop
There is also the issue of lifestyle habits that have been shown to support a healthy pregnancy. Dr. Fru adds that because of the inability to modify lifestyle habits, these babies could be exposed to drugs and alcohol.
After determining the pregnancy, providers take several steps to avoid complications, including necessary prenatal care. “Patients [also] Dr. Fru advises that children receive mental health screenings to ensure that they are receiving the best possible help. Social work helpers are important as they can provide resources in the event of an unplanned delivery, and may also set up the parent-child dyad for success.
While cryptic pregnancies may not be common, they are well documented. However, some people are more at risk than others due to a variety of social, psychological and physiological factors. If you do need to identify the problem, it is possible to learn more about cryptic pregnancies.