Losing a pregnancy is a devastating event for any woman, even if the physical recovery is shorter and easier.
A molar pregnancy is an exception to the rule.
Molar pregnancies can lead to serious complications, this is why the patient has to be closely monitored for many months after the treatment – suction curettage, dilation and evacuation (D & C).
In most cases the molar pregnancy is successfully treated, without severe complications, although the added stress can hinder the psychological recovery.
Types of molar pregnancy
Molar pregnancies are caused by a problem with the egg fertilization. Normally, the cells in our body contain 23 pairs of chromosomes (one chromosome from each pair comes from the mother, the other one from the father).
Complete Molar Pregnancy
An egg without any genetic information is fertilized by sperm, but it doesn’t develop into an embryo, it grows like an abnormal tissue, looking like grapes and filling the uterus.
In this case, there is no normal embryo or placenta.
The chromosomes come only from the father (the mother’s chromosomes are inactive/lost after fertilization).
Partial Molar Pregnancy
An egg is fertilized by 2 sperm cells and the placenta turns into mola. The embryo starts developing, but it’s a malformed and won’t survive.
In this case, compared to the complete molar pregnancy, the mother’s chromosomes are active, but the father’s chromosomes are doubling, this results into 69 chromosomes instead of the normal 46.
Approximately 20% of the women who have molar pregnancy can get complications, which can turn severe, unless treatment is applied.
Who is at risk for molar pregnancies?
- women who are under 20 or over 40
- women who had a previous molar pregnancy
- women with a history of miscarriage
- women who smoke, with endocrine imbalance or immune illnesses.
What are the symptoms of a molar pregnancy?
- high hCG levels, increased uterus, enlarged ovaries
- spotting, vaginal bleeding.
- severe nausea and vomiting
How is a molar pregnancy diagnosed and treated?
A pelvic exam will reveal a larger uterus, while a sonogram will show the ‘cluster of grapes’ appearance, the sign of an abnormal placenta.
A molar pregnancy is not a normal pregnancy and will NOT result in a viable fetus. This is why the first step your doctor will take is to remove the mola.
90% of the women who have a mola removed require no further treatment, but there are women who need a closely monitoring of their hCG levels. These are done to ensure there’s no trace of a mola in your body.
You should avoid pregnancy for a year after this procedure.
Can I have another molar pregnancy?
- If you had a molar pregnancy without complications, your risk of having another molar pregnancy is about 1-2%.
- Genetic counseling prior to conceiving again is helpful for some couples.