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Complete Hydatidiform Mole

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What is a complete hydatidiform mole?

A complete hydatidiform mole happens when cells turn into abnormal tissue in the uterus. The cells normally form the placenta. The tissue is a cluster of fluid-filled cysts that look like grapes. The cluster continues to grow and fill the uterus. The abnormal tissue is not cancer, but may become cancer. A complete hydatidiform mole is also called a complete molar pregnancy.

What increases my risk for a complete molar pregnancy?

The cause of a molar pregnancy is unknown, however, the following increase your risk:

  • Pregnancy before the age of 15 and after the age of 40
  • Eating very little meat and not getting enough vitamin A in your diet
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Previous molar pregnancies

What are the symptoms of a complete molar pregnancy?

A complete molar pregnancy may seem like a normal pregnancy in the beginning. As the complete molar pregnancy continues, you may have the following:

  • Vaginal bleeding late in the first trimester
  • Nausea and vomiting that are worse than expected
  • Grape-like cysts that pass from your vagina
  • Vision changes
  • Heartbeat that is faster than normal
  • Seizures

How is a complete molar pregnancy diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will measure the size of your uterus. A complete molar pregnancy usually makes the uterus larger than expected. You will need a blood test to check the level of pregnancy hormone (hCG) in your body. You will also have an ultrasound. The ultrasound may show a uterus filled with clusters of cysts. With a complete molar pregnancy, there is no fetus. The ultrasound may also show cysts on your ovaries.

How is a molar pregnancy treated?

Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the following:

  • Dilation and curettage (D&C) is done to remove the abnormal tissue from your uterus.
  • A hysterectomy to remove your uterus may be done if you are not planning to become pregnant in the future.

What are the risks of a complete molar pregnancy?

A molar pregnancy puts you at risk for anemia, hyperthyroidism, and gestational hypertension. The abnormal tissue may grow through the lining of your uterus and into muscle. This may cause bleeding into your abdomen or pelvis. Even after the tissue is removed, some abnormal cells can spread to other areas of your body. The tissue can become cancerous and you may need chemotherapy. A complete molar pregnancy can be life-threatening.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You cannot stop vomiting.
  • You have changes in your vision.
  • Your heart is beating faster than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have vaginal bleeding.
  • You pass grape-like cysts from your vagina.
  • You have a seizure.

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