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Home > Health Library > Molar Pregnancy
A molar pregnancy happens when tissue that normally becomes a fetus instead becomes an abnormal growth in your uterus. Even though it isn't an embryo, this growth triggers symptoms of pregnancy.
A molar pregnancy should be treated right away. This will make sure that all of the tissue is removed. This tissue can cause serious problems in some women.
About 1 out of 1,500 women with early pregnancy symptoms has a molar pregnancy.
Molar pregnancy is thought to be caused by a problem with the genetic information of an egg or sperm. There are two types of molar pregnancy: complete and partial.
Sometimes a pregnancy that seems to be twins is found to be one fetus and one molar pregnancy. But this is very rare.
Things that may increase your risk of having a molar pregnancy include:
A molar pregnancy causes the same early symptoms that a normal pregnancy does, such as a missed period or morning sickness. But a molar pregnancy usually causes other symptoms too. These may include:
Most of these symptoms can also occur with a normal pregnancy, a multiple pregnancy, or a miscarriage.
Your doctor can confirm a molar pregnancy with:
Your doctor can also find a molar pregnancy during a routine ultrasound in early pregnancy. Partial molar pregnancies are often found when a woman is treated for an incomplete miscarriage.
A molar pregnancy can cause heavy bleeding from the uterus.
Some molar pregnancies lead to gestational trophoblastic disease, a growth of abnormal tissue inside the uterus. Sometimes this tissue keeps growing after the molar pregnancy is removed.
In a few cases, trophoblastic disease turns into cancer. In rare cases, the abnormal tissue can spread to other parts of the body.
Almost all women who get this cancer are cured with treatment.
When you have a molar pregnancy, you need treatment right away to remove all of the growth from your uterus. The growth is removed with a procedure called vacuum aspiration.
If you are done having children, you may decide to have your uterus removed (hysterectomy) instead of having a vacuum aspiration to treat your molar pregnancy.
After treatment, you will have regular blood tests to look for signs of trophoblastic disease. These blood tests will be done over the next 6 to 12 months. If you still have your uterus, you will need to use birth control for the next 6 to 12 months so you don't get pregnant. It is very important to see your doctor for all follow-up visits.
If you do get trophoblastic disease, there's a small chance that it will turn into cancer. But your doctor will likely find it early so it can be cured with chemotherapy. In the rare case when the cancer has had time to spread to other parts of the body, more chemotherapy is needed, sometimes combined with radiation treatment.
Trophoblastic disease doesn't keep most women from becoming pregnant later.
After a molar pregnancy, you may feel very sad and worry about cancer. It may help to find a local support group or talk to your friends, a counselor, or a religious adviser.
Other Works Consulted
Aghajanian P (2013). Gestational trophoblastic diseases. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology, 11th ed., pp. 859–869. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Li AJ (2008). Gestational trophoblastic neoplasms. In RS Gibbs et al., eds. Danforths Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp 1073-1085. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Current as of:
February 11, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Sarah Marshall MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineDeborah A. Penava BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: February 11, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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