Table of Contents
A molar pregnancy or hydatidiform mole is an abnormal pregnancy which results from abnormal fertilization. As a consequence, the tissue that should normally form the placenta and fetus inside the uterus forms an abnormal mass of cysts. This grape-like cystic mass is called a “mole”. This is not a viable pregnancy; it does not result in a living fetus.
Molar pregnancy itself is not physically dangerous but if left untreated, it can result in some serious complications including cancer. Molar pregnancy is actually a precancerous condition. If this tissue remains in the uterus for a long time, it may develop into a cancer called choriocarcinoma.
Types Of Molar Pregnancy
Hydatidiform moles can be divided into two types: a complete mole and an incomplete mole.
- When two sperm cells fertilize an empty egg (with no genetic material), a complete mole is formed as a result. All the genetic material comes from the father's side. There is no fetal tissue in a complete mole; instead a grape-like mass is formed inside the uterus.
- When a normal egg is fertilized by two sperm cells, a partial or incomplete mole is formed as a result. There are 69 chromosomes in this embryo instead of 46. An incomplete mole has some fetal parts along with an abnormal cystic mass.
Symptoms Of Molar Pregnancy
In the beginning, a molar pregnancy causes all the typical signs and symptoms of a normal pregnancy like a missed period, morning sickness and a positive pregnancy test. The beta hCG levels are raised and uterus also increases in size. After a few weeks, a molar pregnancy causes the following signs and symptoms:
- Bleeding from the vagina during the first trimester (bright red to dark brown in color)
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- The uterus will be larger than it should be in a normal pregnancy
- Discomfort, pressure or pain in the pelvic region
- Sometimes the grape-like cysts of the mole are passed out through the vagina
- Symptoms of hyperthyroidism like fatigue, sweating, irregular heart beat and nervousness
- High blood pressure can also develop in some women
Some of these symptoms are also present in a normal pregnancy and therefore the patient may perceive it as a normal pregnancy. If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of a molar pregnancy contact your obstetrician, who will then look for the signs of a molar pregnancy like a large for date uterus, and then order some tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Most of the time, molar pregnancy is incidentally diagnosed in the first ultrasound scan of the pregnancy. This scan is usually done at 10-14 weeks in a normal pregnancy. If this scan is not done due to improper facilities or lack of awareness (in less developed regions), a molar pregnancy may go on to cause severe complications. Therefore it should be managed as early as possible.