Once she was married, all attention went away from her periods except for the goal of making them cease through pregnancy. In 1554, Mary married her cousin Philip of Spain - she was 37 at the time. This means that were she to get pregnant, she would have what medicine refers to today as a “geriatric pregnancy.” A pregnancy at that advanced of an age, especially with the state of medicine what it was during her lifetime, would have led to serious complications including dying during childbirth.
By the autumn of 1554, Mary believed that she was already pregnant. She wrote to her cousin in December that she could in fact feel the baby moving inside of her. In April, she “took to her chamber,” a period a month prior to the expected delivery where the woman would stay in her rooms in preparation of the baby. However, summer came and went with no signs of a baby to be born. Mary and physicians all wrote it off as a miscalculation of the timing due to her history of erratic cycles. By August 1555, everyone including Mary had to come to accept that she had never been pregnant.
Again in 1557, she believed herself to be with child. She kept it to herself until December, when she thought that she was seven months along in an attempt to avoid what happened the last time she thought she was pregnant. Unfortunately, there was still no child by April 1558.
The popular opinion is that both of these occurrences were phantom pregnancies. Due to her extreme pressure, both personally and on behalf of the country, to produce an heir, this is not an unlikely diagnosis. Her history with mental illness could also contribute to the possibility of the phantom pregnancy. It’s not even a far stretch if you use the terminology of the time. Another name for this phenomenon is “hysterical pregnancy”; remember the Queen already suffered from “hysteria.”
Unfortunately for Mary, the depression that this second false pregnancy caused was the beginning of the end for her. Queen Mary was dead within the year of realizing that she was still barren. Yet, another tragedy in the Tudor’s attempt to create a lasting dynasty - and losing the battle of attempting to prevent her sister Elizabeth from becoming the next queen of England.