There are a few risk factors that can increase your chances of conceiving twins, including:
- A family history of twins
- Having fertility assistance and treatment
- Taking certain medications
- Being female and over 35
These are the most likely factors which can contribute to a multiple pregnancy. Let’s take a closer look at the risk factors associated with having twins.
When you begin to consider the risk factors that contribute to having twins, the first thing you’ll likely notice is age. Research suggests that the oldest mothers are five times more likely to conceive twins than younger mothers. This is due, in part, to increased levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in older women, as well as their increased likelihood of using fertility treatments such as IVF.
Age can also contribute to a decrease in egg quality, which makes it easier for two eggs to be fertilized at once. In addition, an older mother’s body may produce more than one egg naturally during ovulation. Furthermore, some studies have found that identical twinning rates are higher for mothers older than 35 compared with those younger than 25.
As women get older, certain lifestyle habits and medical conditions can also increase their chances of having multiple pregnancies. These include:
- Smoking cigarettes or marijuana
- Having diabetes
- Having obesity before pregnancy.
Women who are pregnant with twins also have a higher chance of complications due to the extra strain on their body.
Genetics are a significant consideration when looking at risk factors for conceiving twins. Twinning can run in families, although the specific set of genes responsible have not been identified. Women with both identical, and fraternal twins in the family are more likely to deliver multiple babies than those with no family history of twins.
Research has indicated that African-Americans and people of Mediterranean descent have higher levels of fraternal twin births compared to other ethnicities, although the exact reason for this discrepancy is not clear. Having a mother or sister with a history of delivering twins also increases the chances that a single pregnancy will result in more than one baby being born. Additionally, being a twin increases your own chances of delivering multiples.
Fertility treatments can increase the chances of a woman conceiving twins. Certain medications used to induce or regulate ovulation or given to women who are undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) may cause the release of multiple eggs during ovulation – thus increasing the likelihood of having fraternal twins. Women over the age of 35 may also be offered fertility treatments, making them more likely to conceive multiples.
Other fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), can also increase a woman’s chance of having fraternal twins. This technique involves transferring sperm directly into the uterus near where an egg implants after ovulation has occurred, increasing the risk of multiple eggs being fertilized and implanted into the uterus at one time.
It’s important to talk with your doctor if you’re considering using any type of fertility treatment as there can be pros and cons associated with each type available. Knowing all possible outcomes ahead of time is essential for making informed decisions about your pregnancy and health care plan.
Signs and Symptoms
Getting pregnant with twins can be an exciting but daunting experience. There are few risk factors, including a family history of twins, that may make couples more likely to conceive twins than others. However, there are also signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate the possibility of conceiving twin babies. We’ll explore these signs and symptoms in more detail below.
An ultrasound can provide early signs that you may be pregnant with twins. Although an ultrasound usually isn’t definitive, a doctor may look for markers such as multiple gestations during the routine pregnancy scan. A doctor should be able to identify multiple gestations during the second trimester ultrasound, which is typically performed between weeks 18 and 22 of gestation.
During this ultrasound, you may see evidence of two or more fetuses in the same gestational sac. Each fetus may also have its own placenta and amniotic sac, which are signs of being fraternal twins. It’s possible to also see different sized placentas, which indicates that one baby is older than the other and they aren’t identical twins.
If a doctor suspects that you are carrying twins during your routine mid-pregnancy scan, additional ultrasounds will be scheduled at regular intervals to check the growth of each fetus and make sure it’s progressing normally.
Hormone levels are closely associated with fertility and potential for a twin pregnancy. If either partner has higher than normal levels of certain hormones, the likelihood of conceiving twins increases. Some hormones can be measured through blood tests for women and men, which can provide an indication that conceiving twins is more likely.
Signs of high hormone levels that can affect a person’s fertility include:
- Increased testosterone or prolactin (for men and women)
- Elevated follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH) (for women)
- A history of having fraternal twins or multiple births in either partner’s family
- Ovulation problems or irregular menstrual cycles (for women)
Women over 35 also have an increased chance of conceiving twins due to hormonal shifts that occur during this time. Other factors such as weight, age, diet, and ethnicity may play a role as well.
Weight gain is an important sign of fertility. Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to conceive twins than those with a normal weight. In fact, according to a 2008 study published in the International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, being overweight increases your risk of having non-identical twins by 33%. It is estimated that almost 9 out of 10 twin pregnancies occur when the mother is carrying excessive weight.
Some researchers suggest that in addition to hormonal changes associated with obesity, higher levels of a protein called folic acid may play a role in increasing the risk of twin pregnancy. Weight gain can also indicate higher levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. High levels of these hormones may make it easier for you to conceive multiple eggs during ovulation, leading to increased chances of having twins. Excess body fat alters hormone levels directly, which could also lead to a greater likelihood of conceiving non-identical twins. In some cases, it has been suggested that higher calorie diets offer more nourishment for cells that can become egg follicles, thus increasing your chances further.
Conceiving twins can be a result of a number of factors, some natural and some medical. While it is a joyous occasion, there can be some complications for the mother, baby, and family.
In this section, we will discuss the potential issues that can arise during a twin pregnancy:
Preterm birth is a potential complication in twin pregnancies. The preterm labor can occur more easily in twins because of the release of certain hormones and the large amount of amniotic fluid produced. Preterm birth is defined as delivering before 37 weeks, and it can increase the risk for health problems for both you and your babies. The earlier the babies are born, the greater their chance of having respiratory distress syndrome and other medical problems due to immature lungs, digestive tracts, and immune systems. They may also have an increased risk for cerebral palsy, hearing loss, vision issues or delays developmental milestones compared to babies that are born full-term (37 – 41 weeks).
In order to reduce the risk for preterm labor or delivery it’s important to take measures like:
- Eating a balanced diet high in fiber.
- Avoiding excess caffeine intake.
- Drinking enough fluids throughout the day.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous activity beyond what is recommended by your professional care provider.
Your doctor may also prescribe extra rest or bed rest during all or part of your pregnancy if deemed necessary.
Low Birth Weight
Low birth weight is one of the most common complications of twins, triplets, and other multiples. Low birth weight is defined as birth weight that’s 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) or less. It occurs in about one in five multiple births due to prenatal growth restriction or prematurity (when babies are born before 37 weeks gestation).
Low birth weight increases the risk for neonatal illness and death due to organ immaturity and infection. Low-birth-weight infants are also 14 times more likely to experience serious long-term health problems than normal-birth-weight infants because they are more likely to have chronic medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, hearing loss, learning disabilities, visual impairments, and respiratory issues including asthma.
Parents of low birth weight twins or other multiples may need extra support from family members and medical professionals while monitoring their babies’ development after delivery. Specialized care may be necessary if the children have any additional developmental delays or need surgery to fix a health concern.
The most common complication of a twin pregnancy is preterm labor, which can cause babies to be born prematurely or even stillborn. Babies born prematurely may experience birth defects and health complications. Multiple births are also associated with an increased risk of placental abruption, pre-eclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage and gestational diabetes. If you are carrying twins, it is important to discuss the risks with your doctor so you can determine the best plan for your pregnancy.
There is also an increased risk of birth defects in multiple pregnancies due to genetic abnormalities that occur during fetal development. Identical twins have identical genetic information, so they will have similar physical characteristics and may even develop the same birth defects. Fraternal twins may carry different genetic information and could differ greatly in size and health status. Your doctor can discuss the screening tests available to assess risks for specific conditions such as Down syndrome or spinal bifida.
Diet and Lifestyle
A woman’s diet and lifestyle can influence her chances of conceiving twins. Eating a diet rich in carbohydrates, such as whole grains, potatoes, and sweet potatoes may increase your chances of having twins. Additionally, lifestyle choices such as staying active and taking vitamins may also increase your chances of having twins. Let’s look further into the diet and lifestyle that could influence the likelihood of conceiving twins.
Eating a Balanced Diet
Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet is one of the most important things a woman can do when trying to conceive, as it can increase her chances of becoming pregnant with twins by providing her body with essential vitamins and minerals. Some dietary considerations that may increase twinning rates are:
- Eating foods that are rich in folate, such as leafy green vegetables, legumes and some fruits; this nutrient helps support efficient egg growth and aids in preventing birth defects.
- Limiting consumption of processed carbohydrates and sugars.
- Including foods high in calcium, such as dairy products or calcium-fortified products like orange juice or plant milks; calcium supports healthy bones and teeth for Mom and baby.
- Increasing healthy fats in the diet by including avocados, nuts/seeds, oily fish and cold-pressed oils; these fats help ensure proper hormone production which can contribute to multiple ovulations from one menstrual cycle.
- Increasing fiber intake through whole grains, nuts/seeds and vegetables which helps promote regular bowel movements which can further contribute to healthy weight management in the mother prior to pregnancy.
- Drinking plenty of water! Staying properly hydrated is essential for many bodily functions including hormone balance and optimal reproductive health.
Getting Regular Exercise
Getting regular exercise is often cited as one of the best things you can do for your health when trying to conceive. Research has found that women who engage in moderate physical activity may be more likely to have a natural twin pregnancy. Moderate physical activity, in addition to helping maintain a healthy weight, is also thought to increase blood flow and improve circulation, raising the chances of conceiving twins with naturally occurring hormones.
Recent studies have suggested that women who are physically active during their reproductive years are not only more likely to experience natural twin pregnancies but may also be more likely to conceive without medical assistance or fertility treatments. Exercise can help reduce stress levels which can positively impact your fertility and help you avoid other potential health issues associated with obesity such as heart disease and diabetes.
Besides regular physical activity, it’s also important for women attempting conception to maintain a balanced diet that includes a variety of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients from food sources. Eating fruits and vegetables throughout pregnancy is especially important since they provide vital nourishment needed during the critical first trimester of development. Foods high in folic acid, such as leafy greens, legumes and oranges should also be included in your diet since they play an integral role in preventing birth defects like spina bifida.
One of the most important factors that can influence whether you will conceive twins is reducing stress. High levels of stress have been linked to an increased risk of infertility, a condition that can lead to errors in ovulation. Stress has also been shown to reduce sperm counts in men and increase the risk of miscarriages in pregnant women.
When couples are attempting fertility treatments, it is even more important for them to manage their stress levels by taking plenty of rest, having regular exercise and avoiding activities that cause unnecessary anxiety. In addition, partners should talk openly about their stressors and challenges so they can find ways to cope together and better share what they are going through. Working together as a team to manage their stress levels and provide emotional support for each other could be the perfect environment for twin conception.
There are various treatment options available to couples trying to conceive twins. Depending on the cause of infertility and the couple’s desire to have twins, the options can range from medications and intrauterine insemination to in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this section, we will discuss the different treatment options available to couples who are trying to conceive twins:
- Intrauterine Insemination
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In Vitro Fertilization
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a process by which a woman’s eggs are harvested, fertilized in a laboratory setting, and then returned to her uterus for implantation. Despite the high cost of IVF treatment, it is often chosen by couples struggling to conceive due to low sperm count, unexplained infertility, lack of viable eggs or previous failed rounds of intrauterine insemination.
When trying to conceive twins through IVF, couples will often opt for two embryos being placed back into the uterus rather than one. While this increases the chances of conceiving twins over singletons, it also increases the risk of multiples being born as well as the risk of premature birth. There is also an increased chance that one or both embryos won’t attach successfully and will be lost during pregnancy. Because fertility drugs are used as part of this process, there is also an increased risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and multiple births with increased medical risks and complications associated with them.
Couples considering this type of treatment should consult with a skilled infertility specialist who can explain all the risks involved and help them weigh their options accordingly.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves inserting sperm directly into a woman’s uterus through a catheter. This is performed with the help of hormones to increase the chance of successful conception.
The success rate for IUI depends on the cause of infertility and the age of the couple trying to conceive. For couples under 35 struggling with unexplained infertility, IUI may be successful on its own anywhere from 5-10%. When combined with medications such as clomiphene citrate or letrozole, success rates can climb up to 20%.
For couples over 35 or those dealing with male factor infertility, intrauterine insemination may still increase their chances at conception but is typically paired with other treatments such as IVF or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). The success rate for these procedures is also dependent on several factors, including our home’s fertility clinic success rates and conditions impacting conception such as egg quality or ovarian reserve.
When performed alongside fertility medications, couples are more likely to conceive twins when using IUI. While this isn’t an intentional outcome of IUI, multiples do occur in approximately 10-20% of intrauterine insemination cases depending on the number of embryos transferred and response to hormones taken during treatment. It’s important to discuss any risks associated with twin pregnancies before undergoing treatment.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) are treatments in which eggs and/or sperm are retrieved from the body and/or manipulated outside of the body to increase a couple’s chances of conceiving. ART is sometimes referred to as fertility treatment.
Common types of ART include in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Other treatments include donor insemination, cryopreservation, gamete intrafallopian transfer, and ovulation induction.
IVF is the most commonly used ART technique. During IVF, mature eggs are collected from an individual or donor and mixed with sperm in a laboratory setting. The fertilized egg is then transferred into the uterus either fresh or frozen. ICSI is a variation of IVF that involves injecting one sperm into each mature egg collected from an individual or donor. This method can be used when the number or quality of sperm available for IVF is low.
Donor insemination involves using donated sperm to artificially inseminate a woman through her cervix or directly into her uterus at peak ovulation time. Cryopreservation allows for eggs, embryos, and/or sperm to be frozen so that they may be used at a later date either for conception purposes or for medical research/genetic testing purposes such as when parents have found that their future child may have certain inherited genetic abnormalities due to known family health history information.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) involves placing single eggs with single dissected sperms cells into selected fallopian tubes simultaneously before allowing nature to take its course by implanting it naturally within the territory rather than transferring it through IVF directly onto uterine wall tissues i.e., embryo transfer via catheter method; however this technique has been largely replaced by IVF due to its lower success rates so should only be chosen if there are religious objections about using IVF methods for ethical reasons but no lower success rate outcomes can be guaranteed with GIFT over IVF treatments which means results may vary drastically between individuals still nonetheless unless advanced sacrificial preparations have been taken prior prior to transfer procedures beyond what GIFT alone can provide particularly if there was insufficient motility or morphology rating levels found amongst diagnostic reports regarding semen composition levels & count before treatment began first advisably neither with GIFT nor any other assisted reproductive technological methods & approaches then recommendable; such additional preparatory steps oftentimes involve helpful medications such as letrozole become helping considerably during cycles where sufficient numbers & motile activity quality cannot necessarily gotten via natural measures alone practically speaking scientifically before initiating any IVF technique thereafter ultimately socially speaking overall still yet too surely traditionally likewise besides what’s medically necessary this approach might also be considered additionally culturally significant especially when facing outmoded religious reservations regarding modern applications further depending on belief systems involved – ultimately as always kept options ought remain open either way”.