A hydatidiform mole is a benign gestational trophoblastic disease characterized by abnormal growth of the placenta, and the embryo develops into a mass of cysts.
In most cases, the mother does not realize she is pregnant until she experiences vaginal bleeding and passes the tissue out through her vagina.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away. This blog post will provide you with more information about hydatidiform moles, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What is a hydatidiform mole?
Hydatidiform mole, also known as a molar pregnancy, is a benign gestational trophoblastic disease that can occur during pregnancy. It is characterized by abnormal growth of the placenta and can lead to problems with the pregnancy.
The hydatidiform mole may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If you have a hydatidiform mole, it’s important to be monitored closely by your healthcare provider.
How common is a hydatidiform mole?
Hydatidiform moles are rare across Britain. One molar baby birth per 714 births. It is estimated that the United Kingdom has around 11,000 hydatidiform moles per year.
All females who have a sex history have a higher risk of developing molar pregnancy. Women from Asian backgrounds also have more molar pregnancy chances.
Types of hydatidiform mole
There are two types of molar pregnancy, complete molar pregnancy and partial (incomplete) molar pregnancy.
Complete molar pregnancy
Complete molar pregnancy is when the entire placenta is abnormal, and there is no formation of fetal tissue.
Partial molar pregnancy
It occurs when there is an abnormal placenta, and there may be a fetus present.
Partial and complete hydatidiform moles will not produce a live baby. They are ‘non-viable’ pregnancies.
What are the symptoms of a hydatidiform mole?
A molar pregnancy may appear to be a typical pregnancy at first, but it typically results in distinctive signs and symptoms:
- Vaginal bleeding during the first trimester
- Enlarged breasts
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increase in urinary frequency
- Expulsion of grape-like vesicles or cysts per vagina
- Pelvic pressure or pain
In some cases, there may be no symptoms. If you have a hydatidiform mole, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Other signs include:
What causes hydatidiform mole?
The exact cause of hydatidiform mole is unknown. However, it’s thought to be related to abnormal development of the placenta.
What are the risk factors of a hydatidiform mole?
There are several risk factors associated with hydatidiform mole. These include:
- Advanced maternal age: A molar pregnancy is more probable in women who are older than 35 years old or younger than 20 years old.
- Having a family history of molar pregnancy
- Having certain genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome or Edwards syndrome
- History of previous molar pregnancy
What are the risks of a hydatidiform mole?
After a molar pregnancy has been removed, molar tissue may remain and continue to grow. This is called persistent gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN). This occurs in about 15% to 20% of complete molar pregnancies and up to 5% of partial molar pregnancies.
Hydatidiform mole can also cause problems with the pregnancy, such as:
- Sepsis (infection)
- Preterm labor
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Hemorrhage and shock
- Invasive hydatidiform mole
If you have a hydatidiform mole, it’s important to be monitored closely by your healthcare provider. In some cases, the molar pregnancy may resolve on its own. However, in other cases, treatment may be necessary.
How is hydatidiform mole diagnosed?
Hydatidiform mole is typically diagnosed during a pelvic exam. Your health care provider will perform a pelvic exam, which may show signs similar to a normal pregnancy. They will look for abnormal growth of the placenta and an enlarged uterus.
If your doctor suspects a molar pregnancy, they will order blood tests, including one to measure the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a pregnancy hormone in your blood.
Ultrasound may also be used to diagnose hydatidiform mole. This imaging test uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of your body.
Prevention of hydatidiform mole
There is no known way to prevent hydatidiform mole. However, if you have a family history of molar pregnancy, you may be at increased risk. If you have a molar pregnancy, it’s important to be monitored closely by your healthcare provider.
Before getting pregnant again, speak with your doctor or a prenatal care provider if you’ve had a molar pregnancy. Your doctor may advise you to wait a certain amount of time (six months to one year) before trying to conceive again.
The chance of recurrence is minor but greater than that of women without a prior molar pregnancy history. Your care provider will do early ultrasounds during any subsequent pregnancies to monitor your condition and offer hope. Your provider may also discuss prenatal genetic testing, which can be used to diagnose a molar pregnancy.
Treatment for hydatidiform mole
Depending on the outcome of these tests, you will receive the most appropriate therapy. If you need treatment, you will be given further information. You are slightly more likely to need ongoing treatment if you had a complete hydatidiform mole. Treatment is usually chemotherapy given by injection into a muscle or through a drip.
Hydatidiform mole is typically treated with surgery. This may be done through a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C). D&C involves dilating (opening) the cervix and removing the tissue from the uterus.
In some cases, a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) may be necessary. This is usually only done if there are complications, such as cancer or severe bleeding.
After treatment, it’s important to be monitored closely by your healthcare provider. You may need follow-up appointments and blood tests to check your HCG levels.
What follow-up is needed after a hydatidiform mole?
It’s also possible for a person with a hydatidiform mole to be infected with cancerous cancer. This could cause an increase in cancer cells in the lung, liver, and brain. So it should be closely monitored when hydatidiform moles are discovered.
When the first diagnosis with hydatidiform moles is made, your HCG levels increase. When hydatidiform moles have been treated (removal), they should usually return to normal hCG levels.
A repeat molar pregnancy happens, on average, in 1 out of every 100 women.
If you have a molar pregnancy, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. This condition can be treated, but it’s important to catch it early. If you have any concerns, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider.