A molar pregnancy occurs when there is abnormal fertilization of the ovum. Sperm may fertilize an ovum with no genetic material, or two sperm may fertilize a single ovum, resulting in too much genetic material. Either way, the circumstances are not consistent with life.
Women with this condition may exhibit presumptive signs of pregnancy, including amenorrhea (absence of a period), nausea, vomiting, and breast tenderness.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone normally produced during pregnancy. Although women with a hydatidiform mole (molar pregnancy) do not have a viable pregnancy, hCG will be elevated producing a positive pregnancy test.
Minimal vaginal bleeding may occur. The bleeding associated with a hydatidiform mole is brown/dark red in color, and is described as “grape-like clusters.”
A hydatidiform mole will cause growth of the uterus to be inconsistent with the progression of the patient’s pregnancy. This means that a woman may notice that her growing stomach is larger than what is expected of that in a normal pregnancy.
An ultrasound of the woman’s abdomen will reveal no fetal heart tones.
Women must undergo a dilation and curettage (D&C) to ensure complete removal of all molar tissue from inside the uterus. Molar tissue that is not removed from the uterus may become malignant.
Providing emotional support to a woman, and her partner (if applicable), is an essential component of patient care. Women and/or couples may experience grief or emotional distress upon learning that the pregnancy is not viable.
Pregnancy is discouraged for one year after a molar pregnancy is diagnosed. During this period of time, hcG levels are closely monitored.
If hCG levels remain elevated after removal of molar tissue, the patient may need to undergo a hysterectomy or receive chemotherapy.
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