A molar pregnancy is a complication that is relatively rare and occurs during the process of conception and fertilization. Only one out of a thousand women develop a molar pregnancy and in most cases with immediate medical treatment, there are no long-term risks involved.
When the tissue that ultimately transforms into the fetus develops into an abnormal mass instead, a molar pregnancy has occurred. Also known as a hydatidiform mole, the abnormal growth in the uterus may still trigger off symptoms of a normal pregnancy thereby delaying diagnosis and treatment.
There are two types of molar pregnancies:
While the exact cause of a molar pregnancy remains unknown, studies show that the problem originates during the process of fertilization. It may be caused by an ovulation defect or some form of malnutrition in the mother. Other risk factors that may increase the chances of developing a molar pregnancy include:
If your doctor suspects a molar pregnancy, he will perform a thorough pelvic examination along with an ultrasound.
Though the normal signs of pregnancy may be evident even with a molar pregnancy, the size of the womb may be irregular along with the abnormal development of the fetus and placenta. The baby's heartbeat is also absent. Other tests include:
If the pregnancy has not ended on its own, a D & C or Dilation and curettage procedure will have to be performed. If the woman is older and has no intention of becoming pregnant in the future, a hysterectomy is an option as well.
After such treatment, it is very important to monitor serum hCG levels and to avoid another immediate pregnancy. Care should be taken to use reliable contraception for at least 12 months after molar pregnancy treatment, as women who have had a molar pregnancy are more susceptible to another one in the immediate future.
The prognosis for molar pregnancy treatment is usually excellent. In most cases, the moles are benign or non-cancerous and recovery is speedy. In rare cases, the mole may turn invasive and burrow deep into the walls of the uterus causing other complications such as bleeding, lung problems, thyroid issues, and preeclampsia. The hydatidiform mole may also turn cancerous and develop into a choriocarcinoma.
It can be very frightening to be diagnosed with a molar pregnancy but as long as you receive immediate medical treatment and you follow up on the treatment conscientiously, there is no reason why you can't go on to have successful and healthy pregnancies in the future. Even then, losing a baby at any stage is incredibly difficult for both partners. There needs to be a healing time for everyone involved along with grief counseling if required. Support groups and counselors can provide invaluable help during such tough times.