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Molar Pregnancy

What is a “Molar pregnancy”?

A molar pregnancy, also called “gestational trophoblastic disease” or “Hydatidiform mole”, is an abnormal development if the placenta, arising from a problem with either the egg or the sperm during the fertilization process. The placenta can either grow abnormally without any fetus being present at all (“complete mole”), or the abnormal placental tissue can co-exist with a fetus (“partial mole”). In this case the fetus usually has severe defects. In the united States, the risk of molar pregnancy is about one in a thousand.

How is a molar pregnancy diagnosed?

A molar pregnancy can be suggested by the appearance of the abnormal tissue on an ultrasound. The tissue appears “grape-like” as the normal placental tissue grows. It can also be suggested by abnormally high values of pregnancy hormone hCG - this is because the abnormal placenta puts out large quantities of this hormone. The molar pregnancy will only be definitely diagnosed, however, by an examination of the tissue, which can be done either at the clinic immediately after your procedure, or at the pathology laboratory to which your tissue has been sent.

How is a molar pregnancy treated?

The usual treatment for a molar pregnancy is to evacuate (empty) the uterus. This will usually resolve the problem, although close monitoring afterwards is necessary to make certain that no further treatment is needed.

Why is it important to comply with the recommended follow up for the
molar pregnancy?

Your clinician will have recommended that you avoid pregnancy for one year, and have regular blood tests for 6-12 months. The reason for this is that in some cases a cancer (“chriocarcinoma”) can develop from the molar tissue. This is one of the most easily treated cancers, but your doctors need to find it in order to treat it, which is why having the blood tests is so important.

Can I have a normal pregnancy after the molar gestation?

Yes you can. There is a 1-2 % chance of having a recurrent (repeat) molar pregnancy, but once your monitoring period is completed, there is no reason that you could not have a perfectly normal pregnancy and delivery.