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  2. Trying to conceive

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How You Get Pregnant with Twins: 5 Factors that Increase the Odds of Getting Pregnant with Twins

Twins have fascinated the world for ages. They are even present in various myths and religions around the globe. Identical twins are also important in science, especially because they can answer many questions scientists have about nature vs. nurture. Here are the overall odds of getting pregnant with twins, plus factors that could increase the likelihood.

In recent years, multiple births have been on the rise. The number of twin births has increased by nearly 75 percent in the past 30 years. In the United States in 1980, only 18.9 sets of twins were born per 1,000 births. In 2018, 32.6 sets of twins were born per 1,000 births, according to a report on birth data. 

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When it comes to having twins, not all regions are equal. Central Africa has the highest twin birth rate, while Asia and Latin America have much lower rates of twin births, according to an international study.

If you want to understand your chances of getting pregnant with twins, it’s important to know how they are conceived. 

There are two different types of twins:

  • Identical: Identical twins occur when one egg is fertilized by one sperm. The egg then divides into two separate embryos. Identical twins might share a placenta and an amniotic sac, or they might share a placenta and each have separate amniotic sacs. Genetically, the two babies are identical.
  • Non-identical: Non-identical, or fraternal, twins occur when two separate eggs are fertilized by two separate sperm. Non-identical twins have their own placenta and their own unique genetic composition.

The following are a few of the factors behind twin birth:

Family history

If twins run in your family, then you have a greater chance of carrying twins. Your partner’s family tree might be bursting with twins, but this won’t increase your odds much.

Having twins doesn’t “skip generations,” so if your mom had twins, you might have higher chances, too!

Ethnicity

Ethnicity is another factor that can influence the chances of carrying two babies. Black people are more likely than Caucasian people to give birth to twins. Asian and Hispanic people are even less likely to become pregnant with two or more kids at a time.

Several pregnancies

Your odds of having twins go up with each pregnancy.

Age

Being older can also contribute to twin birth. Studies have shown that people who are over 35 have a higher chance of getting pregnant with non-identical twins.

This is possibly because after the age of 35, the ovaries release more than one egg per month more often. Studies show that you produce more follicle-stimulating hormone when you’re over 35 than when you’re younger. This may cause more than one egg to be released during ovulation, which would increase the likelihood of having non-identical twins.

Body composition

Some researchers claim that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) have higher chances of carrying twins. People with a BMI greater than 30 before conception are more likely to give birth to non-identical twins. Health care providers don’t recommend gaining weight in order to have twins.

Studies have also shown that for people who are 5 feet 4.5 inches (164 centimeters) or taller, the relative odds of having twins is 1.5–2 times higher than for those under 5 feet 1 inch (155 cm).

Assisted reproduction 

Taking fertility medication is one of the most common ways to get pregnant with twins. They increase fertility by stimulating egg production. If more eggs are produced, the chances that more than one egg will be released during ovulation also increase.

Among the common ways to get pregnant with twins is through fertility treatment such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF). During the IVF process, the specialist extracts eggs and retrieves a sperm sample. These are manually combined in a laboratory. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus. Sometimes more than one embryo is transferred, which may result in twin birth.

Certainly, there are many myths about getting pregnant with twins. For example, the idea that having twins skips a generation is simply not true. There’s also speculation that alternative therapies can increase chances, but there’s not enough evidence to support any of these claims.

Although you have higher odds of conceiving twins if you use assisted reproductive technology, there are also many people who get pregnant with twins naturally.

Having twins may seem desirable to many couples; however, it’s best to simply aim for a healthy baby. Always consult with your health care provider and follow their recommendations and tips for a healthy pregnancy, regardless of how many babies you’re carrying.

Martin, Joyce A., et al. “Births: Final Data for 2018.” National Vital Statistics Reports, vol. 68, no. 13, 27 Nov. 2019, www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_13-508.pdf.

Hoekstra, Chantal, et al. “Dizygotic Twinning.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 16 Nov. 2007, academic.oup.com/humupd/article/14/1/37/827500.

Beemsterboer, S. N., et al. “Paradox of Declining Fertility but Increasing Twinning Rates with Advancing Maternal Age.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 23 Feb. 2006, academic.oup.com/humrep/article/21/6/1531/724256.

Gill, Prabhcharan, et al. “Twin Births.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 May 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493200/.

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