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Symptoms of molar pregnancy

Men and women discussing gestational trophoblastic tumours

This page tells you about the symptoms of molar pregnancy. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Symptoms of molar pregnancy

On this page we have listed the symptoms that can happen with molar pregnancy. All of these symptoms can be caused by other things as well.

  • Vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of a molar pregnancy and usually begins between week 6 and week 12 of pregnancy –always tell your doctor or midwife if you have bleeding during pregnancy

The following symptoms are much less common now. This is because most molar pregnancies are picked up during the routine ultrasound scan that is carried out in early pregnancy.

  • Abdominal swelling – with a molar pregnancy, the abdomen may swell more quickly than usual
  • Feeling and being sick can be a normal part of pregnancy but with molar pregnancy it can be more severe and happen more often
  • Anaemia means that you have a low number of red blood cells and can happen with vaginal bleeding – it makes you feel tired and short of breath
  • Pre eclampsia is a complication that can happen in the last 3 months of pregnancy – rarely with a molar pregnancy you get pre eclampsia much earlier on
  • Overactive thyroid is a rare symptom of molar pregnancy

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What molar pregnancy is

A molar pregnancy occurs when the fertilisation of the egg by the sperm goes wrong and leads to the growth of abnormal cells or clusters of water filled sacs inside the womb. It is a type of gestational trophoblastic tumour.

 

Vaginal bleeding

Vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of a molar pregnancy. Bleeding can happen during a normal pregnancy too and is not always serious, but you should always tell your doctor or midwife. Women with a molar pregnancy are more likely to pass blood clots or have a watery brown vaginal discharge. Some women actually pass pieces of the molar tissue, which can look a bit like small bunches of grapes. Bleeding caused by a molar pregnancy usually begins between week 6 and 12 of pregnancy.

 

Less common symptoms

The following symptoms are much less common now. This is because most molar pregnancies are picked up during the routine ultrasound scan that is carried out in early pregnancy.

Abdominal swelling

In some women who have a complete molar pregnancy the abdomen may get bigger more quickly than it would in a normal pregnancy. So your doctors or your midwife may say that you are large for your dates. In women with a partial molar pregnancy, the womb and abdomen may be smaller than expected for the stage of pregnancy.

Feeling and being sick

Feeling and being sick are common in a normal pregnancy. But with a molar pregnancy the sickness can be more severe and may happen more often. This is called hyperemesis.

Anaemia (low red blood cells)

Anaemia means that you have a low number of red blood cells in your body. Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. If you are losing blood because of vaginal bleeding, your red blood cell count may get low. Being anaemic can make you feel tired and breathless.

Pre eclampsia

Pre eclampsia is a complication that can occasionally happen in the last 3 months of a normal pregnancy. The main symptoms are high blood pressure and protein showing in your urine. Rarely, with a molar pregnancy you can get pre eclampsia much earlier on.

Overactive thyroid

The medical term for this is hyperthyroidism. This is a rare symptom of molar pregnancy.

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Updated: 29 April 2014