Womens Health

Molar pregnancy is a rare complication during pregnancy, arising when the sperm and egg meet and fertilization occurs, but the cells do not grow at a rate that can support pregnancy. In normal pregnancies, the total number of chromosomes is 46, the mother and father each contributing 23 chromosomes. If the wrong number of chromosomes meets, there will be abnormality in the cells that grow to become placenta.

There are of two types: complete and incomplete. In the complete molar pregnancy, the mother’s chromosomes are absent and the father’s chromosomes are doubled. In this condition, it is impossible for the placenta to grow normally. Instead, a large mass of cyst, visible on ultrasound scan, will be formed. In addition, the embryo and the amniotic sac will not form.

In incomplete pregnancy, fertilization occurs with 23 chromosomes from the mother and a doubled set of chromosomes from the father, giving a total of 63 chromosomes. Here, normal fetal growth is impossible. The placenta grows but the fetus does not develop because it lacks the right genetic sequence to survive.

Factors increasing the risk of a woman having a pregnancy as such are: a history of molar pregnancy, being above 40 years of age, having a deficiency of vitamin A (beta-carotene), or a history of miscarriage. The symptoms of molar pregnancy include vaginal bleeding that is dark brown or red like (orange) in color, severe vomiting and nausea, and a swollen belly.

Treatment for this is dependent on assessment by a doctor. Usually, minor surgery called dilatation and curettage will be performed to clear all the molar tissue from the uterus. Sometimes the operation may be carried out in two phases. In other cases, the patient may simply be prescribed a pill to swallow, or a gel to put in the vagina, which causes the molar tissue to be expelled.