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Molar Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

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  • Post last modified:17 April 2024

Molar pregnancy, also known as hydatidiform mole, is a condition that falls under the umbrella of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). It occurs when the process of fertilization between the egg and sperm goes awry, leading to the growth of abnormal cells or clusters of fluid-filled sacs within the womb. Unfortunately, a molar pregnancy cannot progress into a healthy baby.

Symptoms of Molar Pregnancy

The main symptom of molar pregnancy is vaginal bleeding. Other symptoms may include:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarum)
  • Enlarged uterus
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Excessive uterine size for gestational age
  • Passage of grape-like clusters or tissue through the vagina

Causes of Molar Pregnancy

Factors that might increase the risk of molar pregnancy include age, ethnicity, and having a previous molar pregnancy. In a complete molar pregnancy, the fertilization of an empty egg by a sperm lacking genetic material from the woman leads to the formation of molar tissue. In partial molar pregnancies, two sperm fertilize the egg simultaneously, resulting in abnormal fetal tissue development.

Types of Molar Pregnancy

Complete Molar Pregnancy

A complete molar pregnancy occurs when a sperm fertilizes an empty egg devoid of genetic material from the woman. In this scenario, no fetal tissue forms, and the womb contains only molar tissue. Following treatment, some women may still have residual molar tissue, termed as an invasive mole or persistent trophoblastic disease (PTD), which typically requires chemotherapy.

Partial Molar Pregnancy

A partial molar pregnancy arises when two sperm fertilize the egg simultaneously, resulting in one set of female chromosomes and two sets of male chromosomes. While some fetal tissue may be present within the molar tissue, it cannot develop into a viable baby. Most women with partial molar pregnancies do not require further treatment, but a small percentage may have residual abnormal cells necessitating chemotherapy.

Twin Pregnancy with Molar Component

In rare instances, a twin pregnancy may involve both a normal developing baby and a molar pregnancy concurrently. While it may be possible for the pregnancy to proceed, complications may arise, and decisions regarding its continuation must be made in consultation with healthcare professionals.

Treatment and Management


Many molar pregnancies are picked up during routine ultrasound scans during pregnancy. Following diagnosis, further tests such as blood tests and imaging studies may be conducted to determine the extent of the molar tissue and assess for any spread beyond the uterus.


The most common treatment for molar pregnancy is surgery to remove the abnormal tissue. Some women might require drug treatment, such as chemotherapy, especially in cases of persistent trophoblastic disease (PTD) or invasive mole.

Follow-Up Care

Following treatment, regular monitoring with blood tests and imaging studies is essential to detect any recurrence or complications, such as persistent trophoblastic disease (PTD) or the development of an invasive mole.

Molar pregnancy, though rare, can present significant challenges for affected individuals. Understanding the symptoms, causes, types, and treatment options is crucial for informed decision-making and effective management. Through timely intervention and expert guidance, individuals can navigate this difficult journey with the support they need.

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