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18 Factors That May Increase The Chances Of Twin Pregnancy

Twin pregnancy can be intense and exciting for many parents. Many factors play important roles in increasing the likelihood of conceiving twins.

Some of these factors are natural such as a family history of twins while others depend on treatment methods and the physicality of women. To note, there are two types of twins: identical and fraternal twins. Identical twins are born as a result of single fertilised egg splitting into two embryos while fraternal twins are born as a result of two eggs getting fertilised with two sperms.

The conception of identical twins is natural while the conception of fraternal twins is mainly influenced by a lot of factors. This article will give you an idea about the factors which may increase the odds of getting pregnant with twins or fraternal twins. Take a look.

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1. Genetics

A family history of twins is considered the foremost reason to conceive twins naturally. If there's a history of fraternal twins from the mother's side, the chances of the conception of twins will rise and if the genes are on both the families' sides (father and mother both), then the chances are even more. Another factor is the maternal age; if it is above 30 years with a history of twins, the chances will automatically rise up. For couples with a family history of twins, prenatal genetic counselling is very important to prevent pregnancy complications.

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2. Prior history of twins

Studies say that if you already have twins (probably fraternal twins) from your previous pregnancy, there is an increased chance of getting pregnant with fraternal twins again. The chances are in the ratio of 1:12. However, if you have identical twins, then the chances for another pair of identical twins is very low to around 1:70000. [1]

3. Maternal age

According to a study, the probability of getting pregnant with twins increases with maternal age. The data from the study suggests that twin births account for 6.9 per cent of newborns born to women with age above 40, 5.0 per cent for women between the age 35-39 and 4.1 per cent for women between 30-34, followed by 3.1 for 25-29, 2.2 per cent for 18-24 and 1.3 per cent for 15-17. [2]

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4. Weight

Some studies say that obese women or women with a higher BMI of 30 have increased odds of dizygous twinning compared to women with a healthy weight. This can be due to the increased levels of estrogen due to extra fat which can lead to the release of two eggs. [3] However, pre-pregnancy obesity is also linked to increased risk of complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. [4]

5. Height

Women who are taller, with an average height of about 5 feet 4.8 inches, have increased chances of twin pregnancy. However, the odds are not of the same magnitude as obese women. Also, women who are taller and are pregnant with twins are at a decreased risk of preterm birth. [5]

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6. Race

The incidence of twin births is across the countries; however, some studies suggest that the twinning rate is very high in Nigeria and most of the Central-African countries with 18 per 1000 births compared to countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Nepal where the twinning rate is below 9 per 1000 births. [6]

7. Breastfeeding

Not many studies support the fact that breastfeeding can increase the odds of getting pregnant with twins. This is because during breastfeeding, a hormone named prolactin, which is responsible for the production of milk, is elevated in the body, which is also known to impair the ovarian functions and prevent early conception. However, some studies say that the women who get pregnant during breastfeeding have more chances of getting conceived with twins compared to women who do not breastfeed. [7]

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8. Supplements

Folic acid and vitamins are two vital nutrients required by pregnant women for the proper growth and development of the babies and for the improved maternal health. A study suggests that supplements high in folic acid and multivitamins can slightly increase the incidence of twin pregnancies compared to women who do not receive the supplements. [8]

9. Diet

Nutrition can be one of the essential factors for the conception of twins. Certain foods such as dairy, soy and fish are related to increased fertility in both men and women. Consumption of these foods may increase the chances of twin pregnancy according to some studies. However, consuming these foods does not mean that you will conceive twins for sure. It only means that the chances of twin conception may get high, considering other factors too such as family history and maternal height, weight and age. [9]

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10. Assisted Reproductive technologies

Women who are going through fertility treatment methods due to infertility problems have a greater chances of twins. The method does not come under natural factors but a planned way to conceive twins. Some of these methods include:

  • Ovulation-stimulating medicines: Women who are under certain ovulation-stimulation medicines or fertility drugs such as clomiphene citrate and gonadotrophins have increased incidence of twinning compared to women who are not under these drugs. These drugs tend to hyperstimulate the ovaries and lead to the conception of twins. [10]
  • IVF: It refers to In-vitro fertilisation method in which the eggs and sperms are fertilized outside the body and then transferred to the womb for further growth. The demand for twin pregnancy through IVF is increasing as singleton IVF pregnancy carry more risk than singletons conceived naturally while twin pregnancies through IVF carry lesser risk compared to twins conceived naturally.[11]
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): It is a method in which a single sperm is intravenously injected directly into the egg, in conditions when the egg's outer layer is too thick or hard for sperms to penetrate.

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11. Fertility herbs

Certain herbs can improve blood supply to reproductive tissues, improve ovarian functions and promote fertility and ovulation leading to twin pregnancy. Some of these herbs include:

  • Chaste tree or Vitex agnus castus: This tree is widely known to improve the fertility issues and increase chances of conception. A study talks about the release of three eggs in a woman who was under IVF treatment and has taken this herbal medicine at the fourth IVF treatment cycle. [12]
  • Maca root: Maca root is a common Peruvian treatment for fertility that is believed to drastically increase one's chances of getting pregnant with twins. However, there are a few common side effects that might come along with Maca roots such as drastic mood swings.
  • Evening primrose oil: This oil is renowned for its special effect in the management of female ailments, including fertility issues. Evening primrose oil improves the overall reproductive functions of women and may increase the odds of twin pregnancy.

Note: Herbal medicines should not be considered the only and appropriate way to conceive twins. Also, they should be taken only after prescribed by a medical expert as they may cause side effects.

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12. Sex positions

Not many studies back the hypothesis of getting pregnant with twins due to specific sex positions. However, some sex positions can cause better penetration, increased ovulation and thus, increase the chances of twin pregnancy. They are:

  • Missionary position: It is a man-on-top position. This position helps the sperms to naturally swim towards the egg due to the effect of gravity and increase the odds of twins.
  • Rear-entry sex positions: It includes sex positions such as doggy-style in which a man penetrates from the back of the woman; this position causes deeper penetration. However, there is no evidence-based study to support the claim.
  • Scissoring positions: This position is characterised by man and woman facing each other with legs positioned as scissors or cross. The position also causes deep penetration and increases uterus contraction so that the sperms can easily travel to eggs.

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To Conclude

The chances of having twins are not dependent on just one of the aforementioned factors but many of the factors combined. Also, one must remember that some people conceive twins without any of the above factors while others face difficulties even having two or more of the above factors.

Story first published: Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 16:00 [IST]