Molar Pregnancies And How They Affect A Woman’s Fertility

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“The pregnancy isn’t viable”, was the worst news that Nnenna could have had, especially for this pregnancy, which would have been her first child. The child, whose conception she had planned and even calculated its EDD window, was not one a doctor would tell her was not viable. So, she wilfully didn’t want to believe the doctor.

She had gotten pregnant for the first time in five years. Not that they had any fertility issues, it was just that she and her husband hadn’t been staying together for that long.

So, imagine her happiness at seeing the two lines on the stick within the first six months of their cohabiting. She felt really good with herself, and the life she was carrying inside her.

One of the first things she and her husband did was to go to their doctor for a proper blood test, which confirmed that indeed she was pregnant. Right there and then, her first ante natal clinic appointment was scheduled, and she looked forward to it, mostly because it would come with the chance to see her baby via ultrasound scan.

After weeks of anticipation, D-day arrived and the excited couple went off to the clinic, where their doctor talked them through what should be happening, or not happening, in her body, and they moved on to the scan.

Doing an abdominal scan and a transvaginal scan, their doctor probed her pelvis. He didn’t say anything after the first chatter had dried up. Even their attempts at making small talk were met with silence, as a tight expression took over their doctor’s face.

Not long after he finished.  He explained his findings, and noted that the pregnancy did not look viable. Instead of a normal pregnancy, all he saw were some clumps of cells, which looked nothing like a regular pregnancy.

That was how Nnenna entered the clinic for her first appointment as a happily pregnant woman, and left a woman who was not really pregnant, but who yet already looking the part. Heartbreakingly, it was all show, no substance.

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I have often wondered how doctors and practitioners in the medical field keep up with the constant bombardment of the outcomes of studies and research. Today, the trend might be heading this way, tomorrow, there might be no way there again. It is dizzying for even me who reads, to keep up with the latest happenings in the fertility world.

It was while trying to keep up that the molar pregnancy and Nnenna’s story came up, and there I was wondering what pregnancies that connote a type of tooth had to do with a woman’s fertility. Apparently a lot, as it is one of those pregnancies that are not really pregnancies, they just raise a woman’s hopes for nothing and they may end up impacting her fertility negatively, or at most make her wait longer for baby. Importantly, they may affect a woman emotionally.

It doesn’t matter what adjectives come before the pregnancy; ectopic, molar, chemical and other names of abnormal pregnancies, once there is pregnancy attached to it, then a woman grieves her loss. An aborted dream is what it is.

So, for this article, we will be learning about molar pregnancies and their impact on a woman’s fertility, as well as her future chances of conception.

 

What is a molar pregnancy?

According to the American Pregnancy, a molar pregnancy is the result of a genetic error which occurs during the fertilization process, leading to the growth of abnormal tissue within the uterus.

When tissue that should normally become a foetus instead becomes an abnormal growth in the uterus, then, a diagnosis of a molar pregnancy can be reached. With the growth in the uterus, it triggers symptoms of pregnancy.

Sometimes, women have had to carry molar pregnancies for weeks before it is detected, like it was with Nnenna.  Mind you, it can be heart-breaking, when the ruthless tendencies of Mother Nature strike, and a mass of tissue instead of a developing embryo is detected.

Thankfully, it is not a common enough type of pregnancy. According to Google Data, more than 100,000 molar pregnancies occur per year in Nigeria.  The global statistic is 1 in 10 pregnancies may result in a molar pregnancy. That’s either wide or very narrow, depending on where you look at it from. Personally, I still think it is still too close for comfort.

There are two types of molar pregnancies: (a) Complete and (b) Partial Molar pregnancies.

Complete Molar Pregnancies have only placental parts (there is no baby), and this is usually formed when the sperm fertilizes an empty egg. Because the egg is empty, no baby is formed, although the placenta will grow and stimulate the pregnancy hormone, hCG. Unfortunately, an ultrasound will show that there is no foetus, only a placenta.

For Partial Molar Pregnancy, which is sometimes referred to as Mole, it occurs when the mass of cells contains both the abnormal cells and an embryo with severe birth defects. In this instance, there is a foetus, but it is overwhelmed by the growing abnormal mass rather quickly.

The Aftereffects:

Molar pregnancies don’t directly impact a woman’s fertility, but can definitely affect what time she can start active TTC after suffering a molar pregnancy.

Sometimes, it can be six months, and sometimes, it can take as long as a whole year before she can start TTC safely.

When a woman suffers a molar pregnancy, she will likely have to undergo an evacuation, which is not necessarily a minor procedure, and require healing time of its own, but that’s not the main challenge. It is the hCG hormone. Molar pregnancies can make a woman’s hCG levels go off the chart, and it is essential for a woman’s hCG levels to go back to pre-pregnancy levels, before she starts to try again.

If hCG levels keep increasing rather than decrease, then it actually signify a regrowth of the tissues in the uterus, which is likely to be now cancerous, meaning a woman may need chemotherapy and have to deal with the aftereffects of that on both her body (read reproductive system), which may be another delay in baby-making efforts.

 

So, who are those prone to molar pregnancies?

  • Women over the age of 40
  • Women who have had a prior molar pregnancy
  • Women with a history of miscarriage

So, is it possible for a woman, who has experienced molar pregnancy to go through it again? Well, there is a chance, albeit, a very slim chance.

The most comforting part is, a woman can still have a normal pregnancy after a molar pregnancy.

Sending loads of baby dust your way.

 

 

Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here

 

Photo credits:

1. http://cdn.supportkids.org/

2. https://www.epharmapedia.com/

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