How possible is it for a 70-year-old woman to become pregnant?

Monday June 14 2021
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By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

Recently a 70-year-old woman claimed to be five months pregnant. A nurse who checked her also said she was pregnant. Is it not a miracle for a 70-year-old to get pregnant? Monica Kibaju - Kampala

Dear Monica, 

When a woman feels an intense desire to get pregnant especially after she has remarried, their body may produce some pregnancy signs in what is called ‘true pseudocyesis’ or ‘pseudocyesis vera’.  

In pseudocyesis, a woman may get among other symptoms, a swollen tummy, enlarged tender breasts which may produce some fluids or a milky substance, feeling of imagined foetal movements and may even get labour pains which may end with releasing retained copious amounts of urine and gas.

Here the biggest problem may be to convince one that she is not pregnant and after labour that she did not deliver a baby and the baby got stolen.

The great desire to have a child may affect the brain, nerves and hormones in such a way that she gets symptoms of pregnancy whereas she is not pregnant. 

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The hormones may even cause a 70-year-old to have swollen tender breasts that may produce milk.

Any woman with false pregnancy requires tests for pregnancy done (urinary, blood tests and ultrasound) to rule out pregnancy if a woman is in child bearing age and to try to convince the woman that she is not pregnant. 

The latter may be difficult to achieve, in many cases requiring multiple counselling sessions or even visiting a psychiatrist. 

Although rare, men can also have false pregnancy symptoms called Couvade syndrome. 

Disclaimer

This information is not medical care and no doctor-patient relationship is created by this use of the information. Content in this section is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or care from your physician. This information is not a substitute for a formal diagnosis, physical examination, or prescription and should not be used to treat a medical condition. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed here. Please see your doctor in person if you are looking for a personal medical evaluation, diagnosis, prescription, or treatment.


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