There are many reasons a couple might think about trying for twins. Maybe you want to dress them up in matching onesies? Or maybe you’re a twin yourself, and want your kids to have that same special relationship. Let’s go through the factors that increase your odds of having twins – but also the risks involved in multiple pregnancies.
What are the chances of having twins?
There are two types of twins: identical and fraternal. If a single fertilized egg splits in half, the twins will be identical: they have the same DNA. There’s a 1 in 285 chance of conceiving identical twins, and it happens randomly. Fraternal twins are more common: in general, you have about a 1 in 43 chance of conceiving fraternal twins.1
How to get pregnant with twins?
Getting pregnant with twins depends on the luck of the draw – there’s no scientifically sound conception method that means you’re definitely going to have twins. That said, there are some factors that raise your odds.
Being a twin yourself
The tendency to release more than one egg per cycle is hereditary. If mom has a fraternal twin sibling, she’s 2.5 times more likely to get pregnant with twins than average.2Sounds like twins really can run in families!
Using fertility drugs
Fertility drugs generally work by stimulating a woman’s ovaries into releasing an egg, but this can sometimes work too well – causing two or more eggs to be released in a single cycle. This is more likely with injectable rather than oral fertility medications, and almost every assisted reproductive technologies increases the odds of multiple birth.
Being an older mom
Your odds of conceiving twins increases as you get older. This happens because older women produce a higher concentration of the fertility hormone FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone,), and are more likely to release more than one egg. Having experienced one birth already also increases the odds of having twins in a subsequent pregnancy. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the risks to the pregnancy also increase with Mom’s age.
Undergoing IVF treatment
IVF treatment may involve the transfer of multiple embryos in the hopes that one will successfully implant and start a pregnancy. However, this has an associated possibility of having more than one baby at a time. About one in every six IVF pregnancies will result in twins or more, compared to about one in eighty naturally conceived pregnancies.3
Risks of conceiving twins
Many families see twins as a blessing, but there are risks to the mother and babies involved in any multiple pregnancy. With a multiple pregnancy, you will need to visit your OB-GYN more frequently than a mom carrying just one baby. Of course, healthy sets of twins are born every day, but it’s important to be aware of the risks.
Twins and higher order multiples are more likely to be born prematurely, and they often need to spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit. Moms of twins are also at increased risks of pregnancy complications, such as:
- Preeclampsia and high blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- Hyperemesis gravidarum (a very severe form of morning sickness)
Mothers of twins are also at a greater risk of postpartum depression than other moms. This makes it especially important for mothers of multiples to have a good support network.
A healthy twin pregnancy starts with a healthy mom
Having twins all comes down to luck of the draw. But if it seems like multiples are multiplying, it’s because they are. In fact, the number of twins born in the US has been more than doubled between 1980 and 2009!4Whether you end up with twins or a single baby, taking care of your own health before, during and after pregnancy is the best thing you can do for your fertility goals.