What is molar pregnancy?

Molar Pregnancy

Molar pregnancy: Overview

A molar pregnancy is a mass of abnormal tissue inside your uterus. It is also called a hydatidiform mole. It causes symptoms of pregnancy. But a molar pregnancy never makes a baby. This abnormal tissue is removed to prevent problems.

You will need regular blood tests. The tests will check your levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). High levels of this hormone in your blood may mean that you have molar tissue left in your body. You may need to have these blood tests every 1 to 2 weeks until your hCG levels are normal. You may need follow-up tests every 1 to 2 months for 6 months to a year.

Molar pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is a mass of abnormal tissue (hydatidiform mole) inside the uterus that causes symptoms of pregnancy. A complete molar pregnancy is a tissue mass that can fill the uterus. A partial molar pregnancy may include severely abnormal fetal tissue.

Symptoms of pregnancy are often more intense in a molar pregnancy. Morning sickness may be severe. The uterus may grow at a faster-than-normal rate. And blood pressure may be unusually high.

The cause of molar pregnancy is thought to be a genetic abnormality. The risk of molar pregnancy is higher if you are 15 or younger or 35 or older. If you've had a molar pregnancy in the past, you have a slightly increased risk of having another.

All molar tissue must be removed from the uterus to prevent cancerous cell growth. The tissue is suctioned out through the cervix and vagina (vacuum aspiration). Then the uterus may be scraped of any remaining abnormal cells (curettage). Chemotherapy is used when abnormal tissue is or may become cancerous (trophoblastic cancer).

What are the symptoms of a molar pregnancy?

A molar pregnancy causes the same early symptoms that a normal pregnancy does, such as a missed period or morning sickness. But a molar pregnancy usually causes other symptoms too. These may include:

  • Bleeding from the vagina.
  • A uterus that is larger than normal.
  • Severe nausea and vomiting.
  • Signs of hyperthyroidism. These include feeling nervous or tired, having a fast or irregular heartbeat, and sweating a lot.
  • An uncomfortable feeling in the pelvis.

Most of these symptoms can also occur with a normal pregnancy, a multiple pregnancy, or a miscarriage.

How is a molar pregnancy treated?

When you have a molar pregnancy, you need treatment to remove all of the abnormal tissue from your uterus. The tissue is removed with a procedure called vacuum aspiration.

If you don't want a future pregnancy, you may decide to have your uterus removed (hysterectomy) instead of having a vacuum aspiration to treat your molar pregnancy.

After treatment, you will have regular blood tests to check for gestational trophoblastic neoplasia. This is a form of cancer that can sometimes develop from the abnormal molar tissue. These blood tests may be done over the next 6 to 12 months. If you still have your uterus, you will need to use birth control during this time so you don't get pregnant. It's very important to see your doctor for all follow-up visits.

If trophoblastic neoplasia develops, it is usually found early and can be cured with chemotherapy. In rare cases, the cancer may spread to other parts of the body and more chemotherapy and sometimes radiation treatment is needed.

If you've had a molar pregnancy or trophoblastic neoplasia, it's likely you'll be able to get pregnant later.

After a molar pregnancy, you may feel many different emotions. It may help to find a local support group or talk to your friends, a counselor, or a spiritual advisor.

How is a molar pregnancy diagnosed?

Your doctor can find a molar pregnancy with:

  • A blood test to measure your pregnancy hormones.
  • A pelvic ultrasound.

Your doctor may also find a molar pregnancy during a routine ultrasound in early pregnancy. Partial molar pregnancies are often found when checking for a miscarriage.

How can you care for yourself when you have a molar pregnancy?

Get plenty of rest. If you have vaginal bleeding, use sanitary pads. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting (over 20 pounds) until your doctor says it's safe. Ask your doctor about birth control. Most doctors suggest waiting 6 to 12 months before trying to get pregnant.

What causes a molar pregnancy?

Molar pregnancy is thought to be caused by a problem with the genetic information of an egg or sperm. There are two types of molar pregnancy: complete and partial.

  • Complete molar pregnancy. An egg with no genetic information is fertilized by a sperm. It does not develop into a fetus. It continues to grow as a lump of abnormal tissue that looks a bit like a cluster of grapes and can fill the uterus.
  • Partial molar pregnancy. An egg is fertilized by two sperm. The placenta develops into abnormal tissue. Any fetal tissue that forms is likely to have severe defects.

Sometimes a pregnancy that seems to be twins is found to be one fetus and one molar pregnancy. But this is very rare.

Things that may increase your risk of having a molar pregnancy include:

  • Age. The risk for complete molar pregnancy is higher if you are 15 or younger or 35 or older.
  • A history of molar pregnancy, especially if you've had two or more.
  • A history of miscarriage.
  • A diet low in carotene. Carotene is a form of vitamin A.

What is a molar pregnancy?

A molar pregnancy means that tissue that normally becomes a fetus instead becomes a mass of abnormal tissue in your uterus. It is also called a hydatidiform mole. This abnormal tissue causes symptoms of pregnancy.

This tissue can cause serious problems in some cases. So a molar pregnancy should be treated to remove all of the abnormal tissue from your uterus.

What other problems can be caused by a molar pregnancy?

A molar pregnancy can cause heavy bleeding from the uterus.

Sometimes the abnormal tissue keeps growing after the molar pregnancy is removed. This is called gestational trophoblastic neoplasia. It is a form of cancer that can develop from the abnormal molar tissue. You will have regular blood tests to check for this problem. It is usually found early and can be cured with chemotherapy.

In rare cases, the cancer may spread to other parts of the body and more chemotherapy and sometimes radiation is needed.

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