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Does in vitro fertilization make you more likely to have twins?

A common belief about in vitro fertilization (IVF) is it leads to twin pregnancies. However, reproductive endocrinologist Pavna Brahma, M.D., says conceiving twins through IVF is becoming less common.

“This is mainly because we are focusing on single embryo transfer when it’s possible and a favorable choice,” explains Dr. Brahma.

Multiple births can develop through in vitro fertilization when more than one embryo is put back into the mother’s womb. Identical twins can develop even when only one embryo is put back into the womb. Click here to learn exactly how the IVF process works.

Fraternal twins

“If we put back two embryos and each embryo takes, then that would result in a diamniotic dizygotic pregnancy, which are fraternal twins,” she says.

Identical twins

The chance of a single embryo dividing and resulting in identical twins is higher after IVF than after natural conception.

So it is possible to end up with identical twins from a single transferred embryo. 

“That’s a case where we place one embryo back and the embryo itself splits into an identical twin set called the monozygotic set of twins," says Dr. Brahma. 

Complications with multiple births

Dr. Brahma strongly suggests putting back only one embryo into the womb.

“A singleton pregnancy is so much healthier than a twin pregnancy could potentially be,” she explains. “Complications to both the mom and the babies – prematurity and other things – these are risks that we would love to prevent if we could. Singleton pregnancies are ideal.”

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