Molar pregnancies are not common. One of every 1000 pregnancies are molar pregnancies. A molar pregnancy means there is no fetus (in most cases). The problem begins with the egg rather than the sperm. Even in cases where the sperm grows normally (partial molar pregnancy) the fetus does not survive. The egg is defective and therefore does not properly form with the sperm to create the fetus.
Normal fetuses share chromosomes from the mother and father equally. In a complete molar pregnancy, the chromosomes are one hundred percent from the father. The father's chromosomes are simply duplicates of one another. The mother may feel the signs of a normal pregnancy early on, however, if it is a molar pregnancy, it will soon be revealed through signs and symptoms.
The embryo and amniotic sac are non-existent in a complete molar pregnancy. The placenta is not normal either. It forms into a group of cysts. It looks more like a bunch of grapes instead. The fetus in this type of pregnancy cannot survive.
In a partial molar pregnancy, the fetus does have the normal 23 chromosomes from the mother and father. The father's chromosomes double in this case though. The fetus cannot survive (in most cases). This often occurs when the father's chromosomes double or two sperm attach to the same egg. A normal placenta can begin to form in a partial molar pregnancy. The masses of abnormal tissue still exist though.
Those most at risk for molar pregnancies are women under 20 years of age, over 40 years of age, have had miscarriages (two or more) or have had previous molar pregnancies. It is important to keep the doctor informed of any unusual cramping, nausea, abdominal swelling or spotting. These could all be signs of a molar pregnancy. There could be other issues that cause these symptoms, but in any case, the problems need to be addressed by the doctor.
Most molar pregnancies are detected early on through ultrasounds. If the molar pregnancy is not discovered, there is an outside chance that the mother will suffer from preeclampsia. Preeclampsia shows up in normal pregnancies in the later terms of the pregnancy. In the case of molar pregnancies, it will appear before 20 weeks. This condition is very rare for women who have molar pregnancies today because of advancements in technology.
A dilation and curettage must be performed if there is a molar pregnancy. In some instances, there may be a need for chemotherapy following the procedure to ensure that the bad tissues are removed. That is in very rare cases though.
It is important for pregnant women to contact their doctors if there is anything out of place with the pregnancy. This is especially true in the case of bleeding or spotting or abnormal cramping. Although it may not be a molar pregnancy, it could be something that needs immediate medical attention. Suffering from a molar pregnancy does not mean that the woman will not be able to bear children in the future. A discussion with the doctor will help determine what the best course of action is for the future. There will likely be a waiting period before attempting to have more children.