Molar Pregnancy

Symptoms and treatment of molar pregnancy

Molar pregnancies are rare, but it is good for all women to recognize the symptoms so you can report them to your family doctor or prenatal caregiver if they happen to you. Also known as a hydatidiform mole, a molar pregnancy is a type of growth that occurs within the uterus when a woman becomes pregnant. This growth can be benign or malignant, and it is diagnosed with a molar pregnancy ultrasound.

What Is a Molar Pregnancy?

When you're pregnant, your baby is nourished through your placenta. The placenta starts to develop when one of your eggs is fertilized, but occasionally, your body can over-produce the raw material that will form the placenta, resulting in a mass or growth that is called a hydatidiform mole.

This condition occurs in two distinct forms: partial and total. A partial molar pregnancy occurs when there is an abnormal mass or growth in the placenta along with a fetus, and a complete molar pregnancy happens when a woman has an abnormal growth in her placenta, but no fetus to go with it.

Both types of molar pregnancy occur as the result of an abnormality during egg fertilization. The embryo receives two copies of the father's chromosomes, making it impossible for it to survive. Doctors believe there may be links between low levels of vitamin A, animal fats and proteins in the diet and molar pregnancies. Women who get pregnant later in life also have an increased chance of molar pregnancy.

Symptoms of Molar Pregnancy

The symptoms of molar pregnancy that you should watch for include:

  • Vaginal bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy
  • Abnormal womb growth; the womb grows excessively large in about 50 percent of cases and unusually small in about 1/3 of cases
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Hyperthyroidism symptoms, including weight loss, trembling of the hands, loose and fibrous stools, high heat sensitivity, moist and warm skin, rapid heartbeat, anxiety and restlessness
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling in the feet and ankles

In addition to a molar pregnancy ultrasound test, your doctor may perform chest X-rays, CT scans or MRIs of your womb, blood clot tests, complete blood count tests, and screenings that check your kidney and liver functioning.

A molar pregnancy, whether partial or complete, is not viable, which means there is no chance of a normal fetus developing. The molar tissue, and embryo if any, must be surgically removed. Once the doctor is certain that no molar tissue remains in the uterus, however, there are rarely any further complications for the woman, and subsequent pregnancies are usually normal.