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Houston Fertility Center

IVF and the Risk of Multiples

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on October 17, 2013

Houston IVF and TwinsIVF, or in vitro fertilization, can make dreams of parenting a reality for many who have experienced difficulty conceiving naturally. If you have been considering IVF, you may have concerns about the risk of multiple births. Though the likelihood of multiple births can be affected by personal factors, such as the number of embryos transferred, choosing a fertility center with a low rate of multiples is another way to reduce this risk. Dr. Sonja Kristiansen and Houston Fertility Center's rate for multiple births is lower than the national average. For more information, or to discuss your personal risk for multiple births, we welcome you to contact our staff today.

What is In Vitro Fertilization?

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a type of fertility treatment used to assist those who have difficulty conceiving. IVF treatment begins with hormone therapy to encourage the woman's body to produce more eggs. The eggs are then harvested and fertilized outside of the woman's body using her partner's sperm or a donor's sperm. Once the eggs are fertilized, one or more embryos will be returned to the woman's uterus with the ultimate goal of implantation and pregnancy.

What Are the Chances of Having Multiples with IVF?

For most women, successful in vitro fertilization will result in a single birth. In some cases, about 25 percent nationally, IVF will result in twins. Currently, the Houston Fertility Center's twin rate is less than 10 percent. The national average for triplets or larger sets of multiples is 5 percent. The Houston Fertility Center averages less then 1 percent of triplet births and no larger sets of multiples being born. Though multiples may occur, the likelihood is reduced when just one or two embryos are transferred.

Why Does IVF Sometimes Lead to Multiple Births?

Multiple births in IVF treatment are usually a result of more than one fertilized egg being transferred into the uterus. Some IVF doctors will implant multiple fertilized eggs to help increase the odds of IVF leading to successful pregnancy. In some cases, all or multiple fertilized eggs become viable within the uterus and result in a multiple pregnancy.

What Other Factors Influence the Likelihood of Multiples?

Though multiple births may be caused by IVF or other fertility treatments, there are some other factors that can increase the chances of multiple births. These include:

  • Age: Though older women are generally less likely to conceive naturally, women over 35 are more likely to have twins or multiples. Women over 35 tend to produce more hormones, which can cause multiple eggs to be released during a cycle, resulting in multiples.
  • Heredity: Twins are more likely to occur in families with a history of twins.
  • Previously birthing twins: If you have given birth to twins, you are more likely to conceive twins if you become pregnant again.

Is In Vitro Fertilization Right for Me?

For some couples, pregnancy can seem out of reach. In vitro fertilization has helped many people obtain the goal of parenthood. To find out if in vitro fertilization is right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kristiansen today. 

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