Wondering how to conceive twins? As with other aspects of pregnancy, such as trying to conceive a boy or a girl, there are no guarantees. A family history of twins doesn't mean you'll become pregnant with twins. There are some things that will increase the likelihood of a multiple birth, however.
Conceiving Identical Twins
There are two ways that twins are conceived. Identical twins are conceived when one egg splits in two make two separate babies, within one amniotic sac. There is no way to control the conception of identical twins. In fact, scientists have yet to discover why the egg splits in two.
What science has discovered is that family history plays no part in whether the egg will split in two or not. Therefore, even if you have a set of identical twins in the family, it does not guarantee that you will have identical twins yourself.
Conceiving Fraternal Twins
Fraternal twins are two separate eggs that are fertilized by two separate sperm. There are several ways that you can conceive fraternal twins, including natural conception, using fertility drugs or using in vitro fertilization.
With fraternal twins, family history does play a role. A woman who has a family history of superfetation or superfecundation is more likely to have fraternal twins herself. In both of these conditions, the woman's body releases additional eggs after one has been fertilized. Superfecundation, also known as hyper-ovulation, causes a woman to release more then one egg during a menstrual cycle. This increased amount of eggs means there is a greater chance that more then one egg will be fertilized.
With superfetation, the mother is already pregnant when she ovulates again and releases another egg. Even though the woman is already pregnant, the egg from the second ovulation is fertilized and results in a second baby. The second ovulation can occur up to 24 days after the first baby is conceived. Even though the babies are conceived up to 24 days apart, they will develop along the same timeline. As with all other fraternal twins, each baby has its own placenta and amniotic sac.
Superfetation and superfecundation occur naturally in some women. These conditions can also be induced by taking fertility drugs that cause a woman to release several eggs during each cycle. Any form of reproductive therapy that uses fertility drugs carries an increased chance of multiple births, although this is not guaranteed.
In vitro fertilization also increases the chances of becoming pregnant with twins. In vitro fertilization places several embryos in the women's womb. If more than one of the embryos takes, the woman will have multiples. In the early stages of treatment, many doctors limit the number of embryos they implant to reduce the chance of a high number of multiples and the higher risks that come with these pregnancies.
You can always hope for twins, but even with reproductive therapy, there's no way to ensure that you'll have them. Be aware, too, that reproductive therapy should only be used by couples who are having difficulty conceiving. Doctors won't provide the treatment if your only goal is to have twins.
Twin myths have been around for centuries, but that doesn't mean they're true. Take a look at some common myths and the actual truths behind them.
Real questions exist about the medical ethics of multiple births. While multiples can be common with reproductive therapy, a high number of multiples carries extra risks to both the mother and the children.