Molar pregnancy is a situation in which a non-viable fertilized egg does not complete its term and becomes an abnormal growth inside the uterus, instead. This does not develop into an embryo, yet the symptoms of this growth are similar to that of pregnancy. It can be of two categories:
Partial molar pregnancy
In this condition, two sperms jointly fertilize an egg. There are foetal tissues that grow inside the uterus, along with which; the placenta encounters a pregnancy-like abnormal growth.
Complete molar pregnancy
In this situation, an egg without any genetic information is fertilised by a sperm. This grows into an abnormal lump of tissues inside the uterus.
Molar pregnancy results from a gestational trophoblastic disease, in which infections inside the uterus lead to the growth of tumours. Some women experience preeclampsia by the mid-stages of pregnancy, if they have molar pregnancy that is not diagnosed. Research says that 1 in 1,500 women in the US are prone to developing a situation of molar pregnancy. Timely treatment is vital to prevent further complications in future pregnancies. In both partial molar pregnancy and complete molar pregnancy, some of the symptoms are very close to what you experience when you are in your early stages of pregnancy.
Molar Pregnancy: Signs, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment
Signs of Molar Pregnancy
The signs of molar pregnancy are:
- A bleeding vagina
- A larger or inflamed uterus
- Acute nausea and morning sickness
- Sweating profusely
- Vaginal discharge that is greenish or yellowish in colour and is in the form of large lumps
- Sudden cramps in the uterine muscles
- Constant pelvic discomfort
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
Knowing these symptoms help women get themselves diagnosed in time and reduce further risk. The major risks, however involved in molar pregnancy are:
- Increased chances of miscarriage
- Complicated pregnancy
- Difficulty in conceiving
Risk Factors of Molar Pregnancy
Apart from the future deterrents, the risk factors that cause molar pregnancy, which must be kept in mind are:
The risk and chances of molar pregnancy are greater if you are above 35 years of age.
If you have already experienced a situation of molar pregnancy, you are likely to contract the same again. You must be extra careful if you have experienced two or more molar pregnancies in the past. In that case, your chances of developing this situation increase by approximately 40%.
A miscarriage in the past is another risk factor determining the risk of molar pregnancy. Get yourself checked if you feel that you might be pregnant again, but see no signs of development.
A diet that is devoid of carotene and folic acid is bound to spark complications in conception. Carotene is a form of vitamin A, which is required for women to maintain a good menstrual and reproductive health. Lack of this vitamin, increases the chances of miscarriages and false pregnancies.
Molar pregnancy can be caused by several factors, during or before actual conception. However, the precise causes of this unnatural growth are not properly known, although doctors are trying to decode the puzzle for long. The diagnosis is easier now, as the symptoms are known. Yet, in most cases, it is diagnosed after a miscarriage. In some cases, if it is diagnosed before a miscarriage, it is through the molar pregnancy ultrasound scan.
Knowing the signs, you may inform the doctor, soon after which there is a molar pregnancy ultrasound, to detect the internal developments and the cause of the said symptoms. The doctor might recommend a blood test and a sample of your urine, to look out for extreme high levels of HCG hormone. This hormone is secreted largely during pregnancy, and higher levels can lead to molar pregnancy. Hence, a molar pregnancy ultrasound helps decode the situation and provide effective treatment.
Molar pregnancy can be diagnosed on basis of various clinical features like:
- abnormal vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy
- uterus large for dates
- pain from large benign theca-lutein cysts
- vaginal passage of grape-like vescicles
- early preeclampsia
Ultrasound scan can be used to diagnose molar pregnancy before 12 weeks.Initially, it will show a fine vascular or honeycomb appearance but later a complete mole is described as snowstorm appearance of mixed echogenicity representing hydropic villi and intrauterine hemorrhage. Ultrasound diagnosis of partial mole is difficult.
There are three major treatment methods to follow, while catering to molar pregnancy:
In this method, the OT operator will have to put you under a general anaesthesia. Then the doctor will insert a thin tube inside your vagina, reaching up to your womb. With this tube, the abnormal cells that have grown into a lump are sucked out of your body.
At times, the abnormal cells are too large in size, and hence form massive lumps. These are not possible to be sucked out through the thin tube. In this case, the doctor will administer medicines, to gradually make the cells de-clutter and pass out of your vagina.
In more serious cases, when these simple tools fail to accomplish the task, you might have to go in for a surgery to remove your womb. However, there is no need to panic! This surgery is called hysterectomy. The surgery is done under complete anaesthesia, and is a smooth process. One important factor about this process to remember is that you cannot have any more children later on. This surgery can be an option only when you have already planned out your family structure. But, if the gynaecologist feels that your situation is worrying, they might recommend that you undergo a surgery, irrespective of your personal choices.
Most women tend to freak out on coming across the term “molar pregnancy”. Although it is not a very common occurrence, it is also not extremely profound if diagnosed and treated timely. Regular molar pregnancy ultrasound scans, blood tests, and HCG sampling, must be done as follow-up treatments to avoid recurrence and further complications. The best way, however, is to know your symptoms and visit the doctor as soon as you get an inkling of something abnormal happening inside your uterus. The sooner the diagnosis, the easier the treatment!