The world is fascinated by babies that come in pairs - twins. The love of twins and other multiples has been going on for as long as we have recorded history. And in recent years, due to many reasons, the number of twins and other multiple pregnancies has been on the rise. Often I'm asked what one can do to increase their chances of having twins. (See how twins are made.)
People want to have twins for different reasons. Some want to have two children but only have one pregnancy to "get it over with" so to speak. Others just enjoy the mystery of twins. There are also those who are having trouble getting pregnant and would be thrilled to get as many children as they can so they can avoid future painful and expensive treatments. Here are some of the answers, with varying degrees of effectiveness, that I can give on how to increase the odds of having twins:
- Eat yams.
There are certain cultures that have more twins than others. One of these is a tribe where they eat a lot of yams. There is a theory that it is a certain chemical in the yams that helps the women in this culture have more twins.
- Be breastfeeding when you get pregnant.
Recent studies show that if you are breastfeeding when you get pregnant that you are more likely to have twins. This is said to be caused by the depletion of calcium in your system while nursing and its effect on the egg during conception and ovulation.
- Be older when you get pregnant.
The older you are when you get pregnant, the more likely you are to have twins. This may be because of an increased ovulation of multiple eggs, resulting in more dizygotic or fraternal twins.
- Be a twin.
Twins have a higher rate of having twins themselves. Unfortunately you can't really influence this one.
- Have a family history of twins.
If you have a family history, mostly a maternal history, then you are at an increased chance of having twins yourself. These are mostly dizygotic or fraternal twins and not monozygotic or identical twins. This comes from the ability to ovulate more than one egg at any given point in ovulation.
- Be a certain ethnicity.
African Americans have a higher rate of twinning than other ethnicities.
- Take fertility drugs.
There are actually practitioners who prescribe fertility medications like Clomid to increase the chances of having twin by inducing multiples eggs being released in ovulation. You'd be hard pressed to find one of these physicians, but they are out there. The problem is that there are risks to taking fertility drugs and it should be reserved for people who are having trouble conceiving. There are also increased risks of having a multiples pregnancy, even with "only" twins.
- Try fertility treatments.
Fertility treatments that go beyond fertility drugs are used only for those families that truly need it. Procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and others can increase the chances that you will have twins or other multiples. Not only do they increase the risk of dizygotic twins, but also there appears to be an increase in monozygotic or identical twins.