Being pregnant is a wonderful feeling. During these 9 months, you might spend a lot of time thinking about your baby. Whether your baby will be a girl or a boy, will he/she be healthy, will you have a safe delivery, all these questions might be in your mind right now. You must be taking good care of your health and eating healthy food for the benefit of you and your baby.
But some situations cannot be in your control. There can be some complications that you don't know about or that you cannot avoid. In such cases, you might feel helpless, as you may not know what is happening. One such complication is molar pregnancy.
After reading this blog, you will have a better understanding of molar pregnancy, its causes, symptoms and treatment.
What is molar pregnancy?
You might already be knowing about the placenta. The placenta is a tissue that forms in the womb after fertilization. It supplies food and oxygen from your blood to your baby.
If the placenta does not form properly during pregnancy, it leads to molar pregnancy. In these cases, abnormal tissue or tumour gets formed instead of the placenta, because of which your baby may not get enough food and oxygen. This tumour is called as a hydatidiform mole.
Molar pregnancy happens at the time of fertilization itself, but can only be detected after the tissue or tumour becomes bigger.
What causes molar pregnancy?
The fertilized egg should have 23 pairs of chromosomes - one set from the mother, and the other set from the father. Chromosomes carry information about the body's functioning.
Because of some complications during fertilization, it may sometimes happen that an extra set of chromosomes comes from the father. This leads to molar pregnancy.
Molar pregnancy is of 2 types: partial molar pregnancy and complete molar pregnancy.
- What is complete molar pregnancy?
During fertilization, if the chromosomes of the egg are lost or harmed, chromosomes from the sperm might get copied. In these cases, there will be 2 sets of chromosomes from the father. This leads to a complete molar pregnancy. There will be no embryo in the womb. Only the hydatidiform mole grows instead of the placenta.
- What is partial molar pregnancy?
During fertilization, if 2 sperms fertilize the egg, the chromosomes of the sperm might get copied. In these cases, there will be 2 sets of chromosomes from the father and only 1 set from the mother. This leads to a partial molar pregnancy. Both the hydatidiform mole and the embryo grow abnormally. The embryo does not get enough food and oxygen, and will not survive.
Both these cases are dangerous, but you can still avoid any harm to yourself by going for regular checkups. Molar pregnancy can be detected during ultrasound scans. So go to your doctor regularly so that any complications can be found out as early as possible.
Who is more at risk of having molar pregnancy?
Molar pregnancy is not common. It only happens in less than 4% of pregnancies. So you don't have to worry about getting it. You might be at a higher risk of having a molar pregnancy if:
- Your age is below 20 or above 40.
- You have had a molar pregnancy before.
- You have had a miscarriage before.
- There is a history of molar pregnancy in your family.
What are the risks of molar pregnancy?
If molar pregnancy is not treated, you might have the following complications:
- Preeclampsia - In this condition, your BP (blood pressure) becomes high and can be harmful to you.
- The hydatidiform mole can sometimes lead to cancer if not removed early.
- The hydatidiform mole can lead to vaginal bleeding. Loss of too much blood from your body can lead to anemia.
Unfortunately, if molar pregnancy is not treated as early as possible, it can even lead to the death of the mother.
What are the symptoms of molar pregnancy?
Molar pregnancy does not have any specific symptoms. So you might feel like you are having a normal pregnancy, only until a tumour is seen in the scan. But there are some warning signs that you should know:
Symptoms of molar pregnancy: Bleeding or brown discharge from the vagina - During molar pregnancy, you might experience some bleeding or dark discharge from your vagina. The discharge might be thick and lumpy. If there is any such unusual bleeding or discharge, consult your doctor immediately.
Symptoms of molar pregnancy: Too much vomiting - If you have too much morning sickness or vomiting during pregnancy, it might be a sign of molar pregnancy. But this can happen during normal pregnancy as well, so consult your doctor just to be safe.
Symptoms of molar pregnancy: Your stomach grows too big early in the pregnancy - Your stomach's size grows slowly, and the size increase may be very less in the first trimester. But if there is a hydatidiform mole, the size can increase faster. So if you feel that your stomach size has increased a lot, go to your doctor immediately.
Symptoms of molar pregnancy: You have too much pain in your stomach - The hydatidiform mole can put some extra pressure on your stomach, because of which you might feel a lot of pain. Any kind of pain in the lower part of the stomach should be checked. So go to your doctor immediately.
Symptoms of molar pregnancy: Hyperthyroidism - Molar pregnancy can also create problems in your thyroid. So if you feel any hyperthyroidism symptoms like sudden weight loss, sweating or difficulty in sleeping, please go to your doctor for a checkup.
Know that some of these symptoms are common during pregnancy. There is no reason to be scared until a molar pregnancy is confirmed.
How is molar pregnancy detected?
During pregnancy, your body produces the hCG hormone. But in the case of molar pregnancy, the amount of hCG hormone produced is much higher. By doing a blood test, your doctor can check the hCG level in your body, which can show the chances of molar pregnancy.
If the hCG level is high, your doctor will do an ultrasound scan. Ultrasound scans are also done many times during pregnancy as a part of the routine checks. These scans can show the location, growth and development of your baby. If there are any defects or complications in the womb, amniotic fluid, placenta etc., those can also be found out.
If the doctor detects a molar pregnancy, he will advise you on the next steps for your treatment.
Can molar pregnancy be treated?
Yes. Molar pregnancy can be treated. But it is very important that molar pregnancy is detected as early as possible. More growth in the hydatidiform mole can create more complications.
To treat molar pregnancy, the doctor will remove the hydatidiform mole from the womb. This is done through surgery.
If you wish to be pregnant again, your doctor will perform a procedure called dilation and curettage. In this procedure, your doctor will remove the hydatidiform mole from your uterus.
If you don't want to be pregnant again, your entire uterus is removed. This procedure is called hysterectomy.
In both these surgeries, you will get anesthesia first. So don't worry, you won't feel any pain. After the surgery, you will have to get regular blood tests to make sure that your hCG level has come back to normal.
There is no way to save the baby, as the embryo does not survive with the hydatidiform mole. Yes, this is scary. But don't worry. You can still try to have a baby again once you recover from your surgery.
Can you have a normal pregnancy next time?
Yes, it is possible to have a normal pregnancy. It is natural to worry about your next pregnancy after a case of molar pregnancy. You would not want to go through all the pain and loss again.
So if you are planning to have a baby again, consult your doctor. Make sure that the hydatidiform mole has been removed completely. After that, it is definitely possible to have a normal pregnancy. There is less than 2% chance of having a molar pregnancy again. But keep a gap of at least 1 year between the two pregnancies so that your uterus heals and your body recovers from the operation. This time is also necessary to reduce the hCG hormone level in your body.
Yes, molar pregnancy can be scary. But if you notice any unusual symptoms, go to your doctor immediately. With early detection, the hydatidiform mole can be removed and you can soon plan for another baby.
After the surgery, you and your husband should stay strong positive. If you know any women who have had such complications or a miscarriage, talk to them and take their help in recovering mentally. Take rest, wait for a few months and you can soon be pregnant again.