Jeremy, a seemingly healthy twenty-five year-old, was admitted to the hospital with vomiting, dehydration, and obscure abdominal cramps. Initially, we thought he had picked up a stomach virus, but when he was still vomiting three days later, we began an exhaustive series of tests to find out what was wrong. All came back normal. With no fever or elevated white blood count, infection seemed unlikely, as well. In short, we were stumped. We solved the case several days later when his wife, two months pregnant, came to visit for the first time in three days. Turns out, she hadn't come to see him because she'd been hunched over the commode vomiting her guts out with morning sickness. Jeremy's vomiting coincidentally started shortly after his wife's morning sickness. Of course! Couvade's syndrome.
Couvade's syndrome, also called "sympathy pregnancy," is a psychosomatic syndrome where the male partner of a pregnant women develops the same symptoms as his wife. It can include weight gain, back pain, nausea, vomiting, and postpartum depression. The syndrome has been described in cultures all around the world from Papua, New Guinea to the medieval Basques. Couvade's syndrome comes from the French verb "couver" which means to "brood" or "hatch."
As expected, Jeremy made a full recovery once his wife's nausea and vomiting went away, at the beginning of her third month.