Miscarriage is a harrowing experience and most times unavoidable. In simple terms, it is the process when the mother’s womb fails to recognize the fetus within (which by now may be non-viable), and the body’s internal mechanism kicks in and tries to expel it. One type of miscarriage is a molar pregnancy.
What is a molar pregnancy?
In a normal scenario, when a sperm fuses with an egg/ovum, a fertilized egg is formed that in future forms an embryo. In case of a molar pregnancy, a mass of cells form a mole instead of a normal embryo.
What are the types of molar pregnancy?
A molar pregnancy can either be:
- Complete: In this, the embryo does not develop at all. It usually occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg which has no genetic information.
- Partial: In this, the embryo does develop but is abnormal and fails to survive. It usually occurs when two sperms fertilize (or if the chromosomes of a sperm duplicate) a normal egg (which has genetic information).
How is a molar pregnancy different from a normal pregnancy?
In a normal pregnancy, a fertilized egg contains 46 chromosomes ( 23 each from the father and the mother) In molar pregnancies, that is not the case.
In a complete molar pregnancy, the fertilized egg has no copies from the mother (0) and two copies (2 x 23) of the chromosomes from the father. This is the reason that no embryo, amniotic sac, or placental tissue is formed. In its place, the placenta forms a mass of tissue or cysts which resembles a cluster of grapes.
In a partial molar pregnancy, the fertilized egg has one set of chromosomes from the mother (23) and two copies from the father ( 2 x 23). In total, there are 69 chromosomes instead of the normal complement of 46. The embryo begins to form, so there is some fetal and placental tissue within an amniotic sac. Even if a fetus is formed, it is abnormal and fails to survive.
What are the chances of getting a molar pregnancy?
Pregnant women who are under the age of 20 or are over 35 years are more prone to have a molar pregnancy. some other risk factors include:
- If you have a history molar pregnancy or miscarriage/s
- If you are of Southeast Asian origin (in comparison to their western counterparts)
What are the symptoms of a molar pregnancy?
You will feel the early symptoms of a normal pregnancy (due to the hCG secreted) like nausea, fatigue, flatulence etc initially. As you progress through your pregnancy, you may have
- heavy bleeding
- abdominal cramps
- severe nausea and/or vomiting
- abdominal swelling ( due to your rapidly growing uterus)
If your molar pregnancy goes undetected, you run a risk of
- increased blood pressure
- thyroid problems
So, how do you detect and treat a molar pregnancy?
A molar pregnancy is generally detected on your first ultrasound (seen as a mass of cells/cluster of grapes). In rare cases, it may go undetected and you may miscarry without knowing or realizing you had a miscarriage at a later date based on your symptoms.
The treatment is generally a surgical abortion, i.e., dilation and curettage or a suction curettage (done under anesthesia). This helps in removing the mass of cells/tissue (which will be eventually removed by the body as it is recognized as foreign) without leaving any tissue which at a later date may be the cause of infection in the mother.
It goes without saying that you will need to take rest after all this so that your body recovers and returns to normal. It may take a while for your hCG levels to become normal as well, so speak to your doctor if you are planning on your next pregnancy and get an approval.
Having emotional support during this time is crucial as it will help you tide through this with all the reinforcement you need. We at Savika are also with you, feel free to contact us anytime.