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What's on Earth Is A Molar Pregnancy?

What on earth is a molar pregnancy? Put simply, it's a condition characterized by an abnormal placenta.  It's caused when there is a problem caused by the sperm and egg joining together at the point of fertilization.  It results in the growing of abnormal tissue inside the uterus. A molar pregnancy is common, affecting only one of a thousand pregnancies.  Molar pregnancies come in two types:  partial and complete.

A partial molar pregnancy is when the mass has abnormal cells as well as an embryo with severe defects. The fetus is quickly overcome by the growing mass.  There's an uncommon version of the partial molar pregnancy, in which twins are conceived, with one embryo developing normally and the other a "mole."  When this happens, the healthy embryo is soon consumed by the growth.

In a complete molar pregnancy, there's no baby--just placental parts.  This forms when an empty egg is fertilized by the sperm.  No baby is conceived due to the egg's emptiness. However, the placenta will grow and create hcG, the pregnancy hormone.  Upon undergoing an ultrasound, the exam will reveal only a placenta, no fetus.

Those who are most at risk to experience a molar pregnancy include:

  1. Women above age 40
  2. Women who have a prior history of miscarriage
  3. Women who have previously experienced a prior molar pregnancy
  4. White women more so than black women
  5. Mexican, Asian and Filipino women more so than U.S. women.

The symptoms of a possible molar pregnancy could include nausea and vomiting, vaginal bleeding or spotting, development of thyroid disease, increased level of hCG, early preeclampsia, or no heart done detected from the fetus, and no fetal movement.  A sonogram or pelvic exam can often help your doctor determine if there is a true molar pregnancy.

In the event of a molar pregnancy, your physician will likely want to perform a D & C procedure (suction curetage, dilation, evacuation).  They will use a general anesthetic before beginning this procedure.  In rarer cases, the medical staff might treat it through medication.  After the mole is removed, 90 percent of the time, no ore treatment will be required.  However, your doctor will probably want to monitor your hCG levels monthly for a period of six months afterward, just to ensure that they have been successful at completely removing the mole.

In the future, while there is an increased risk for another molar pregnancy, understand that it is a slight risk.  The chances of you having another such event is still no greater than one or two percent.  So while you should get genetic counseling before trying to conceive again, this alone should not keep you from exploring the possibility of getting pregnant again.

If you experience a molar pregnancy, you should prepare yourself for the fact that you will likely experience some emotional sense of loss.  Even though there was never a developing child (and thus, no child was actually terminated), still there is the sense of losing the future that you'd hoped to have with a new child.  You suddenly find that your hopes and plans for the child are canceled without warning.  You will need to allow yourself time to grieve and time to heal.  You might find it helpful to seek out a support group or other counseling.

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