What is a Molar Pregnancy?
A molar pregnancy is an uncommon condition in which your uterus becomes “pregnant” with an abnormal growth instead of a viable embryo. Even though it feels like a normal pregnancy, the growth will not develop into a fetus.
When a sperm fertilizes an abnormal egg containing no genetic information, this is known as a complete molar pregnancy.
A partial molar pregnancy is when two sperm fertilize the same egg. The cells of the partial molar tissue will start to divide, creating a malformed embryo and some placental tissue, but they will not survive.
Neither of these conditions has the correct genetic information to become a viable embryo.
Complications of a Molar Pregnancy
The abnormal tissue must be removed right away. Although most of these growths are benign, they can sometimes become harmful tumors.
If some molar tissue still remains even after removal, it may continue to grow and become cancerous. This complication occurs in about one out of five molar pregnancies.
The fertilized egg triggers a pregnancy response in your body, which starts producing hormones to prepare for pregnancy. If your
doctor detects elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotropic (HCG) in your blood, it could mean that you still have some molar tissue growing in your uterus. This is known as persistent gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD).
Signs and Symptoms of a Molar Pregnancy
At first, the condition may seem like a normal pregnancy. You might get morning sickness or miss your period. But usually, you will see other distressing symptoms, such as:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pressure in the pelvis
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Vaginal passing of tissue, especially grape-shaped cysts
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, call us right away. We will conduct a blood test and an ultrasound exam to confirm your diagnosis.
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What Will an Ultrasound of a Molar Pregnancy Show?
The condition can usually be detected by 8 weeks. An ultrasound of a complete molar pregnancy will show:
- No embryo or fetus
- Cysts filling the uterus
- Ovarian cysts
- No amniotic fluid
A partial molar pregnancy will look much different. You will see:
- A malformed fetus
- Little amniotic fluid
- A cystic placenta
We understand that this could be a very difficult situation, physically as well as emotionally. We want you to feel comfortable asking questions and expressing your concerns. If you would like to try for pregnancy again, be aware that having a molar pregnancy does increase the likelihood that you will have another.
Please bring any questions you may have, and your Ob/Gyn can discuss your future fertility options with you.