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Updated 03 February 2017

Did Beyoncé’s age increase her chances of having twins?

Beyoncé took to Instagram this week to announce that she and husband Jay Z are expecting twins. Can age increase your chance of conceiving twins naturally?

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Beyoncé is 35 and there is a possibility that her age was a factor in conceiving twins. People often believe that IVF is a leading cause for conceiving twins but surprisingly, age is one of a few other factors that can lead to a multiple pregnancy.

Women older than 35 produce more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) than younger women. This hormone, produced in the pituitary gland, prepares the ovary for ovulation. (In men, it stimulates the production of sperm cells.)

When you have more FSH, your body can release two eggs in a single cycle – the result is a possible multiple pregnancy. So although older women are statistically less likely to fall pregnant, they are more likely to have twins.

Read: A new mom at 50

Double trouble – what are the chances?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to your chances of falling pregnant with fraternal (identical) twins, and age is just one of them.

IVF: If you’ve had more than one embryo placed in your uterus, your chances of having twins (or more) is about 20%. In many countries it’s illegal to implant more than one embryo, and South African law says you may implant no more than three embyros per cycle.

Heredity: Are you a twin? Do you have twins in your family? If so, you'll have a slightly higher chance of conceiving twins.

History of twins: If you’ve already had twins, you’re twice as likely to have another pair if you fall pregnant again.

Number of pregnancies: The more pregnancies you’ve had, the higher your chances of having twins.  

Body type: Taller women are more likely to have twins because of a protein called insulin-like growth factor.

Read: What you should know before your twins or triplets arrive

Multiple pregnancies shouldn’t be an IVF goal

Some women believe that having twins is easier because it means one pregnancy with two children. One reader asked GynaeDoc this very question: "I have one child but my husband and I were hoping for three if possible. I'd like to finish with pregnancy and small babies quickly. What are the chances of having twins through insemination?"

Doctors caution that multiple pregnancies shouldn't be your goal when it comes to IVF. GynaeDoc explains: "While it may seem like a nice idea to have twins, there are many associated complications – a higher chance of miscarriage, preterm birth, placenta praevia, haemorrhage, congenital abnormalities... It's not something you should deliberately set out to do."

Dr Johannes van Waart of the Wijnland Fertility Clinic in Cape Town agrees: “Multiple pregnancies mean increased risk to both mother and children; risks ranging from inflated blood pressure and gestational diabetes in the mother, to the high likelihood of pre-eclampsia and premature birth. Our goal is to focus on single embryo success rates wherever possible. The technology available supports this approach, and we have seen great results with the introduction of our Embryscope™ equipment, which adds much precision to the process.”

Read more:

Moms of twins live longer

Having twins is cheaper?

Gestational diabetes: twins on board

 
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