Wondering About A Cryptic Pregnancy?

You may have heard the term “cryptic pregnancy”, or also called a stealth pregnancy, in passing or even within online parenting forums and wondered, what exactly is a cryptic pregnancy? It sounds mysterious and almost secretive, but it is important to know that it is very real and does happen to women all over the world. Despite it sounding surreal, it is important to understand this is not something from a circus or side show. Understanding what a cryptic pregnancy is will help bring awareness.

What is it?

A cryptic pregnancy is one that goes unnoticed or detected by pregnancy tests because the woman’s body doesn’t build up the pregnancy hormone hCG. Without that important hormone present in the woman’s bloodstream, all pregnancy tests will come back negative. Along with that, the pregnancy itself will last much, much longer than a typical, normal pregnancy of 40 weeks. A cryptic pregnancy could last, incredibly from 2 to 5 years.

Cryptic Pregnancy - themamaneeds

What Causes a Cryptic Pregnancy?

The idea of a cryptic pregnancy may scare the wits out of you. I mean, no woman wants to carry a pregnancy for 2 to 5 years long. There are certain factors that can lead to a cryptic pregnancy, which make some women more likely to experience such a pregnancy. These include:

  • Having PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome)
  • Women with hormones not regulated yet (those who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding)
  • Women with very low body fat percentage which causes hormone imbalance
  • Women using Norplant, Deprovera or Mirena for birth control which gives a continuous release of hormones into the body
  • Perimenopause (which can start as early as age 30 in some women)
  • High Stress levels in the expectant mother

Signs/Symptoms—How Can You Miss it?


Many people are skeptical that a woman could go about daily life without knowing she was pregnant but it certainly can happen! Some women who are experiencing a cryptic pregnancy still have regular periods due to the lack of hCG in their bodies. It’s like their own body doesn’t know they are pregnant.

Along with that, even if they suspect they might be pregnant, they aren’t getting a positive pregnancy test result.

Women experiencing a cryptic pregnancy may have typical pregnancy symptoms like nausea, heartburn and frequent urination but other symptoms could include:

  • Continued Periods
  • Weight loss
  • Early labor signs which are on and off for weeks (sometimes months)
  • Slow belly growth
  • Longer gestational period than normal
  • Feeling of being pregnant coming and going (generally going away during periods when hormones are at the lowest)
  • In some cases, negative ultrasound results

What Happens with the Fetus?

Because with a cryptic pregnancy, a woman is pregnant for much longer than a regular gestational period, there might be the fear that the fetus won’t develop properly. In fact, this isn’t true. The fetal development in a cryptic pregnancy is simply delayed—stalled off and on. All the necessary development occurs, just at a much slower pace. Most women experiencing a cryptic pregnancy end up in going to hospital once in labour thinking they are having severe stomach pains or back spasms, only to find out they are about to give birth!

What About an Ultrasound?

It is true that most woman can have an ultrasound at as few as 5 weeks pregnant and detect the presence of a gestational sac, however, women experiencing a cryptic pregnancy often get negative ultrasound results. This happens especially in women who have abdominal or uterine abnormalities, such as tilted uterus or lots of abdominal scar tissue blocking a proper view. Also, since the fetus is developing at such a slow rate, it may be more difficult to detect with an ultrasound.

Does This Really Happen to Real People??

Despite how surreal this seems to so many of us, especially those who have been pregnant before, it does happen. You can listen to the story of a very real case of a cryptic pregnancy below.

Rian’s Cryptic Pregnancy Story

In Closing…

Sadly, the woman is often called a liar or stupid once she does give birth but this is so far from the truth. With a negative pregnancy test, regular periods and barely any weight gain it would be hard to “prove” that you are indeed pregnant to anyone. Understanding what a cryptic pregnancy is and why it may happen will bring awareness and hopefully understanding to an unbelievable phenomenon. The symptoms, aside from regular pregnancy symptoms, could include:

  • Continued menstruation
  • Repeated negative pregnancy tests both at home and at the doctor’s office
  • Slow weight gain or none at all
  • Negative ultrasound results
  • Feel pregnant and then not pregnant on and off for weeks or months
  • Early labor signs on and off

Hopefully this has answered your thoughts and wonders about what exactly a cryptic pregnancy is and how it could happen to regular people worldwide. Please feel free to leave comments or questions, we love to hear from our readers.

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Jennifer Shackelford

Hi, I’m Jennifer, the founder and editor of TheMamaNeeds.com. On The Mama Needs, I write about experience with pregnancy, raising kids, and nutrition for both kids and expectant moms.. I love that blogging brings parents together and lets our readers know they’re not the only ones going through these experiences. I love seeing comments on my posts that say “I thought it was just me! I’m so glad it’s not!” Being a parent is hard, but friends and blogs really help.

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