top of page

Understanding Molar Pregnancy

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

If you have been diagnosed with a molar pregnancy, it may a confusing and emotionally difficult time. It is likely that you have not heard of this condition before, as it is rare and seldom discussed. We will be describing a molar pregnancy, its cause, and treatment.

What Is A Molar Pregnancy?

A molar pregnancy is a form of an abnormal pregnancy. This occurs when an egg and sperm join abnormally and form a noncancerous tumor instead of a healthy placenta.

There are two main types of molar pregnancies: complete and partial. In complete molar pregnancies, no embryo forms. The tumor still forms and produces human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which in turn causes a positive pregnancy test. In partial molar pregnancies, an embryo forms along with the abnormal placenta. In these cases, the abnormal placenta overcomes the embryo.

How Common Are Molar Pregnancies?

Molar pregnancies are very rare. Approximately 1 in every 1,000 pregnancies is diagnosed as a molar pregnancy.

What Are the Risk Factors for Molar Pregnancy?

Molar pregnancies are more likely to occur in women who are younger than 20 or over age 40. Additionally, women with a history of two or more miscarriages or prior molar pregnancies may be at greater risk of having a molar pregnancy.

What Are the Signs of a Molar Pregnancy?

Symptoms of a molar pregnancy include vaginal bleeding within the first three months of pregnancy, preeclampsia, high hCG levels, no fetal heartbeat, grape-like cysts coming from the vagina and rapid increases in abdominal size. Women with molar pregnancies often experience severe nausea and vomiting.

How Is a Molar Pregnancy Treated?

Most molar pregnancies spontaneously end. However, some patients require surgery. Specifically, dilation and curettage (D&C) with suction may be used to remove the abnormal tissue from the uterus. In very rare circumstances, a hysterectomy may be needed.

What Are Possible Complications of Molar Pregnancy?

In some cases, parts of the molar pregnancy may remain in the uterus. In this setting, the patient may develop persistent gestational trophoblastic disease. Cells from the molar pregnancy may grow into the muscle layer of the uterus. On rare occasions, persistent gestational trophoblastic disease can lead to a type of cancer, choriocarcinoma. If this cancer spreads, chemotherapy may be needed.

Should I Be Worried for Future Pregnancies?

Many women who have been diagnosed with a molar pregnancy later have normal pregnancies. Providers often recommend that women wait at least one year after a molar pregnancy before attempting pregnancy again.

Takeaway Message:

A molar pregnancy is a rare type of abnormal pregnancy. Women who have been diagnosed with a molar pregnancy should be encouraged to discuss appropriate follow-up and future pregnancy risks with their physician.

Have you been diagnosed with a molar pregnancy? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page