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We sometimes come across cases where a woman goes to the hospital complaining of stomach pain and comes back out with a baby in her arms. This may sound very strange indeed. How could someone not know that they’re pregnant? There is a very plausible medical explanation for this. This kind of pregnancy is called cryptic pregnancy. In such cases, women do not realize that they are pregnant until they reach 20 weeks of pregnancy or later. 

Sometimes, they may realize only when they reach labor. This happens to 1 in 450 women. Though it is rare, it is not unheard of. Women suffering from cryptic pregnancy have little or no detectable HCG ( Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormone. Doctors make use of HCG test to determine if a woman is pregnant or not. This is the reason why the pregnancy is not detected by home pregnancy tests, blood tests, urine test and even ultrasound. This may be caused by a number of factors. Here are the causes of cryptic pregnancy.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

This condition affects a woman’s hormone levels. There are multiple small cysts on the ovaries which cause excessive release of hormones by the body. Even the ovaries may be enlarged. Though it is not dangerous, it causes hormonal imbalances in the body.

Recent Pregnancy

If you had a recent pregnancy, the hormone levels may not have stabilized yet. It takes some time for the hormone levels to go back to the levels prior pregnancy. This causes a hormonal imbalance. Unprotected sex during this time may lead to a cryptic pregnancy which will not be detected due to very low HCG levels.

Low Body Fat

Very low body fat makes you more susceptible to hormonal imbalance. When the body fat becomes too low, the production of estrogen decreases. Estrogen promotes symptoms of pregnancy like the growth of breasts, morning sickness etc. It also regulates the production of HCG hormone.

Birth Control Pills

Some birth control pills like Deprovera, Norplant, or Mirena Coil release hormones which affect the normal pregnancy hormones. It makes them vulnerable to pregnancy. Some pills are high in progesterone, the hormone that stimulates the uterus to prepare for pregnancy. If you have already conceived but continue to take the pills unknowingly, it will help your pregnancy while you are unaware of it.


If you are under a lot of stress, your body will have high levels of stress hormones. This can cause a hormonal imbalance and hide the symptoms of pregnancy. It’s in the baby’s best interests that the mother remains stress-free. Sometimes a woman may have a lot on her plate and too much stress can lead to miscarriage. Cryptic pregnancy uses few resources and can actually increase a fetus’s chance of survival.

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