A Little Twin Appeal?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has revolutionized reproductive treatment, helping infertile couples and individuals start or grow families. While the goal of IVF is a healthy, successful pregnancy, some couples specifically desire twins or multiples. When doctors and scientists first developed IVF, couples often experienced multiple births in a single cycle. Thanks to advancements in the process, the chances of multiples have decreased significantly. Yet, some people still see IVF as a way to have twins for emotional and practical reasons. Couples must understand that many factors influence multiple births.


In vitro, explained

The IVF process combines egg and sperm samples in a fertility clinic to produce healthy embryos over several days. The healthy embryos are then transferred to the woman’s uterus for pregnancy. During this process, the woman will take specific hormone medications to increase the output of eggs in the ovaries. Additional hormone medication helps prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy. After the fertility clinic transfers 1 or more embryos, there is a 2-week waiting period to confirm pregnancy. In many cases, patients will need multiple IVF cycles to become pregnant.

The science behind IVF and twins

With assistance from the resident embryologist, IVF embryos can grow into more viable blastocysts. The advanced stage of embryo development increases the chances of success, so fertility clinics can transfer fewer embryos per cycle. In the past, the tools and technology were not available to keep embryos cultured for several days. Therefore, multiple embryos were transferred to the uterus, significantly increasing the chances of multiples. While achieving twins from a single embryo is possible, known as monozygotic or identical twins, multiple embryos are more likely to result in dizygotic or fraternal twins.

Why do people hope for multiples?

Studies show that over 58% of infertile couples prefer twins during IVF. There are both emotional and practical reasons to desire twins. Some couples want a large family and see multiples as a chance to achieve this quickly. For others, IVF is an emotionally and financially challenging pursuit. The family can conceive twins while avoiding another IVF attempt. Many couples want multiples for purely emotional reasons. There was always a desire to have twin siblings that could connect. Perhaps there are twins in the immediate family, or the parents always envisioned having multiples. Whether for financial, emotional, or personal reasons, with some adjustments, the chances of twins are possible during IVF.

Increasing the chances of multiples

Couples often share the desire for multiples with the fertility clinic. At this point, the doctor should describe the risks and challenges of attempting to conceive twins or multiples. These pregnancies are often high-risk for the mother and babies. Managing twins, especially for first-time parents, can be emotionally, physically, and financially challenging. Of course, there are also ethical and moral considerations to consider with IVF multiples. Once all these topics are covered, the clinic may allow multiple embryos to transfer during a single IVF cycle. The goal is always to transfer a safe number of embryos that will not endanger the patient’s life or increase the chance of pregnancy complications.

A healthy, realistic IVF process

Some couples hope for twins, as infertility can be an emotionally challenging diagnosis. Twins allow couples to grow families quickly and without the added stress of multiple IVF cycles. Sometimes, there is an additional hope for twins for purely personal reasons. Although statistics show the chances are higher, IVF does not guarantee a couple will have twins in any given cycle. Additionally, thanks to advanced technology, clinics typically only use a single embryo for each cycle. Discuss the risks and challenges with the fertility team and choose the best option that will lead to a healthy pregnancy.

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