Molar Pregnancy Types, Causes & Symptoms

It’s amazing how little we know about our own bodies let alone how pregnancy works. In my post about Pregnancy with 1 ovary, I mentioned a friend who was trying to get pregnant and eventually realised she had a cyst which had to be removed through surgery. She’d been having pregnancy symptoms which made her feel she was preggie. But then her period would arrive and her hopes would be dashed. When the gynac told her about her cyst she couldn’t believe it and the Doc happened to mention false pregnancies, false negatives, false positives and molar pregnancies amongst other things. This did make me curious and I started reading up on these terms.

I’ll be trying my best to give you some basic info about each of these terms and hope your awareness will increase so that you’re ready for anything when the time comes. Today, we will be discussing Molar Pregnancies.

What is a molar pregnancy?

A molar pregnancy happens when tissue that normally becomes a fetus instead becomes an abnormal growth in your uterus. Even though it isn’t an embryo, this growth triggers symptoms of pregnancy. It occurs when something goes wrong during the fertilisation process at conception, and there are abnormalities in the cells that grow to form the placenta.

Are there any types of Molar pregnancies?

Yes…One can either have a partial or a complete molar pregnancy.

In a regular pregnancy, the fertilised egg contains 46 choromosomes in all (23 from the father & 23 from the mother). In a Complete molar pregnancy, the fertilised egg has no maternal chromosomes and the chromosomes from the father’s sperm are duplicated, so you end up with two copies of chromosomes from the father and none from the mother. Here, there is an abnormal placenta but no fetus.

In most Partial molar pregnancies, the fertilised egg has the normal number of 23 chromosomes from the mother but double the chromosomes from the father, totalling 69 chromosomes instead of the normal 46. In this case, there’s an abnormal placenta and some fetal development. But the fetus cannot survive in this environment and a miscarriage is imminent.

Are molar pregnancies very common?

It tends to vary as per the region. In the West about one in every 1,000 pregnancies is a molar pregnancy. In Asian women, molar pregnancies are more common. There is an increased risk of molar pregnancy in women with blood group B and a trend toward an increased risk of second molar pregnancy in Indian/Pakistani women.

How can a molar pregnancy be detected? What are the signs?

  • Bleeding during the 1st 3months.
  • Severe nausea, vomiting and abdominal swelling
  • Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism like Rapid heart rate, nervousness, sudden weightloss, Restlessness, trembling hands.
  • Higher than normal levels of the pregnancy hormone (HCG)
  • A complete molar pregnancy is usually visible on an ultrasound scan, and a blood test will confirm the diagnosis by measuring hCG levels. Partial molar pregnancies are tougher to diagnose though. If you miscarry a suspected molar pregnancy before it is diagnosed by scan, a pathologist may be able to examine the miscarried tissue to confirm if it is a molar pregnancy.

    What causes a molar pregnancy?

    It normally results from over-production of the tissue that is supposed to develop into the placenta. The placenta normally feeds a fetus during pregnancy. In this condition, the tissues develop into an abnormal growth, called a mass. Although the exact causes of such issues with fertilization are unknown, a diet low in protein, animal fat and Vit A has said to possibly play a role.

    What’s the treatment for a molar pregnancy?

    If you’re diagnosed with a molar pregnancy, you may need a minor operation called a D&C (dilation and curettage) to remove the abnormal tissue or you may be given a drug to enable you to miscarry the tissue without surgery. Occasionally, you may need a second D&C operation to remove the mole completely.

    Your doctor will ask for follow up tests. You will be asked to provide urine or blood samples after your operation so that levels of hCG can be monitored. When there is no disease left in your body, the level of hCG is virtually zero.

    Reading about Molar pregnancies was an eye opener for me and I hope you’ve learnt some stuff along with me. We are generally never exposed to such terms in our lives but God forbid such instances do occur, I feel it’s better to be armed with knowledge in such instances.

    Be Happy. Be Safe.

    Source: 1,2,3,4,5, 6

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