Pregnancy Problems

Molar Pregnancy

Answers to all your questions about molar pregnancy.

What is a molar pregnancy?

A molar pregnancy happens when the tissue that normally would develop into a fetus instead forms an abnormal growth in the uterus. And even though it’s not an actual embryo, it unfortunately triggers some of the same symptoms of pregnancy, so many women with a molar pregnancy think they’re pregnant.

What are the signs of a molar pregnancy?

You may miss your period and have morning sickness — which might make you assume you’re pregnant. You might also have vaginal bleeding, a larger-than-normal uterus, pelvic discomfort and grape-size vaginal discharge.

Are there any tests for molar pregnancy?

Your doctor can diagnose the condition (which is also referred to by the more scientific-sounding hydatidiform mole) through a pelvic exam, pelvic ultrasound and blood tests. Abnormally high levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG are often a common indicator.

How common is a molar pregnancy?

Molar pregnancy is relatively rare, occurring in about 1 out of every 1,000 pregnancies.
 
How did I get a molar pregnancy?

It’s most often caused by a genetic problem (some kind of mutation in either the egg or sperm).
 
How will my molar pregnancy affect my baby?

We’re really sorry, but there isn’t a baby. A molar pregnancy can be emotionally difficult because most women who have them assumed they were pregnant, and finding out they’re not is much like finding out they’ve miscarried (see next page for treatment and resources).

What’s the best way to treat a molar pregnancy?

If you are diagnosed with a molar pregnancy, your doctor will likely order a procedure to remove the growth right away, because the tissue itself can lead to another disorder called persistent trophoblastic disease (which could potentially develop into a cancerous form of the disease). A molar pregnancy is a scary diagnosis, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a safe and healthy pregnancy after treatment.
 
What can I do to prevent a molar pregnancy?

There’s no known way to prevent a molar pregnancy.
 
What do other pregnant moms do when they have a molar pregnancy?
 
“Went in for my ultrasound yesterday, and I have the placenta, ovaries, hormones, and pregnancy symptoms of a 10-week pregnant body, but no embryo. My doctor said it’s a molar pregnancy, where an abnormal growth in the uterus tricks the body into thinking it’s pregnant.”

“I had a complete molar pregnancy. I ended up in the ER with excessive bleeding and underwent a second D&C. My HCG levels had actually gone up in the past two days preceding the second D&C.”

“I had a partial molar pregnancy, and being told I had to wait to TTC again has been one of the hardest things for me.”

Are there any other resources for molar pregnancy?
 
March of Dimes

The Bump Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss community board

Plus, more from The Bump:

What to Expect From a D&E or D&C

Emotions After a Miscarriage

Miscarriage and Loss

By C. Joseph Cadle, MD, ob-gyn, Kaiser Permanente, Atlanta, GA