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Couvade syndrome, also called sympathetic pregnancy, is a proposed condition in which a partner experiences some of the same symptoms and behavior of an expectant mother. These most often include minor weight gain, altered hormone levels, morning nausea, and disturbed sleep patterns. In more extreme cases they can include labor pains, postpartum depression, and nosebleeds. The labor pain symptom is commonly known as sympathy pain.
Couvade syndrome is not a recognized medical condition. Its source is a matter of debate. Some believe it to be a psychosomatic condition, while others believe it may have biological causes relating to hormone changes.
Symptoms experienced by the partner can include stomach pain, back pain, indigestion, changes in appetite, weight gain, diarrhea, constipation, headache, toothache, cravings, nausea, breast augmentation, hardening of the nipple and insomnia. In some extreme cases, partners can grow a belly similar to a 7-month pregnant woman and gain weight up to 14 kilograms ("false pregnancy").
Psychological theories 
The causes of couvade syndrome have not yet been determined to a medical certainty, but hypotheses have been advanced.
In the past, many purely psychological causes that were suggested included anxiety, pseudo-sibling rivalry, identification with the fetus, ambivalence about fatherhood, a statement of paternity, or parturition envy.
In "Psycho-Evolutionary" theory, it is thought that couvade is a way to minimize sexual differences in the pregnancy and birthing experience.
The couvade may also be a way to establish the father's role in the child's life and to give balance to the gender roles.[clarification needed] Couvade is more common where sex roles are flexible and the female is of a dominant status.
Physiological theories 
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Studies have shown that the male partner cohabitating with a pregnant female will experience hormonal shifts in his prolactin, cortisol, estradiol, and testosterone levels, typically starting at the end of the first trimester and continuing through several weeks post-partum.
See also 
- Counihan, Carole. The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power. New York: Routledge, 1999. p.69
- "Partners suffer from phantom pregnancy". BBC. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Klein, 1991
- Abensour, Léon. Histoire générale du féminisme.
- A.E. Storey; C.J. Walsh, R.L. Quinton, K.E. Wynne-Edwards (2000). "Hormonal Correlates of Paternal Responsiveness in new and expectant fathers". Evolution and Human Behavior 21: 79–95. doi:10.1016/S1090-5138(99)00042-2. PMID 10785345.
Further reading 
- Klein, H. Couvade syndrome: male counterpart to pregnancy. Int J Psychiatry Med, 21: 1, 1991, 57-69.
- The Elusive Couvade Syndrome
- The Making of Modern Dad
- Couvade in the Modern World
- Feeling Her Pain The Male Pregnancy Experience
- Men suffer from phantom pregnancy, BBC News, 14 June 2007
- St. George's University of London: Fathers have 'sympathy pregnancies' study shows, 14 June 2007
- St. George's University of London: Lecturer investigates hormonal link to ‘sympathy pregnancies’ in men, 22 June 2010
- Couvade Syndrome, or why sympathy can suck the big one