Partial molar pregnancy
Molar pregnancies tend to occur more commonly in younger and older women. In New Zealand it is estimated that 1 in every 1500 pregnancies will be a molar pregnancy. Having a previous molar pregnancy increases the chance of having another molar pregnancy to 1 in 70.
The condition is usually benign (non-cancerous), however molar pregnancies can become cancerous if not removed. The chances of a molar pregnancy becoming cancerous are higher with a complete molar pregnancy than with a partial molar pregnancy.
The cause of molar pregnancy is not fully understood but is thought to be caused by a problem with the genetic information of an egg or sperm.
Signs and symptoms
However, signs and symptoms of a molar pregnancy may then appear and can include:
- Faster than usual growth of the uterus
- Vaginal bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting, which may be severe
- Passage of grapelike tissue from the vagina
- Absence of foetal movement or heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Hyperthyroidism – an overproduction of thyroid hormones which can lead to weight loss and increased appetite.
Blood and urine tests may be used to detect abnormally high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is a hormone normally produced during pregnancy but present at much higher levels with molar pregnancy.
If the molar pregnancy does not spontaneously miscarry, the woman may be given a medication to trigger the uterus to release the pregnancy. Again this is usually followed by a D & C.
If the molar pregnancy does not miscarry despite medication being given, a procedure called vacuum aspiration may be performed. This procedure is similar to a D & C. During the procedure a general anaesthetic is given, the cervix is opened and the molar pregnancy is removed using a gentle suction instrument. The uterus is then checked to make sure all of the molar tissue has been removed.
For women who are older and do not want any more children, a hysterectomy may be considered, as this eliminates the chance of cancer developing as a result of the molar pregnancy.
While the condition is being monitored it is important to avoid pregnancy. This may be for a period of up to one year, though recommendations for each woman will differ.
Turkington, C. A. (2006). Hydatidiform Mole. Gale Encyclopaedia of Medicine, Third Edition. Jacqueline L. Longe, Editor. Farmington Hills, MI. Thomson Gale.