Infertility Treatment and Multiple Births

September 26th, 2012 | by

Infertility Treatment and Multiple BirthsAccording to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control, there were 137,217 twins born in the United States in 2009. That is 33.2 per 1,000 live births, or approximately 3.32% of live births.  In addition, the data collected shows there were 5,905 triplet births, 355 quadruplet births, and 80 quintuplet or higher order births.  These numbers gathered include naturally occurring multiples, as well as multiples conceived with fertility treatment.


Is There a Connection Between Infertility Treatment and Multiple Births?

An upswing in multiple births prior to 2005 has been linked to older age at childbearing (women in their thirties are more likely than younger women to conceive multiples spontaneously) and the growing availability and use of fertility treatments.  Both assisted reproductive technologies (ART), including in vitro fertilization, and non-ART therapies, such as artificial insemination and ovulation-inducing drugs, have been increasingly used as effective fertility treatments.  Additional statistical data shows that less than 20 percent of all triplets or higher order multiples born between 1997 and 2003 are estimated to have been naturally conceived.


When seeking basic fertility help and information, it is important to note that fertility treatments that increase ovulation can lead to twins, triplets, or higher order multiples.  Not all treatments for infertility, however, come with this increased risk, but most do.


Fertility drugs and treatments that may lead to twins include the following:

  • Clomid
  • Femera
  • Gonadotropins
  • IUI treatment, when used along with fertility drugs
  • IVF treatments


Clomid and Femera have the lowest rate of twins, ranging from 5 to 12%.  The rate of triplets and higher order multiples is under 1%.  Gonadotropins seem to have the highest rate of twins.  According to some studies, up to 30% of pregnancies conceived with gonadotropins lead to multiple births.  While the majority of these pregnancies are twin pregnancies, approximately 5% are triplet or higher order pregnancies.


While most people believe that IVF treatment is the main source of triplet and higher order pregnancies, the latest data collected by the CDC shows this is simply not true.  The latest statistics show that the rate of triplets in 2009 was about 3.6% for women aged 35 to 40, and lower for women under 35 or over 40.  IVF twins are relatively common, with the twin rate highest for women younger than 35, at 33.4% in 2009.  The IVF twin rate is generally lower for women over age 35, most likely due to the overall lower success rate as a woman ages.


Your chances of having twins will depend not just on your use of fertility drugs or other fertility-related treatments, but also your family history, your height and weight, your race and age, your diet and many other factors. All of these factors do work together, increasing or decreasing your chances of a multiple birth pregnancy.  In other words, a tall woman with a family history of fraternal twins is more likely to conceive twins during fertility treatments than a short woman without any family history of twins.  Other examples include an African-American woman is more likely to conceive twins than a Caucasian woman, while Asian women are the least likely to conceive twins.


A woman’s chances of conceiving twins will also be affected by the particular cause of her infertility. A young woman with healthier eggs is more likely to conceive twins than a woman over 40, whose egg quality may be poor.


The twin and multiple rates also vary from one fertility clinic to another.  Twin rates differ based on how carefully a doctor tracks ovulation stimulation during fertility drug use and how many embryos they transfer during IVF.  Since 1997, the physicians at the Center of Reproductive Medicine have safely provided the highest pregnancy success rates for thousands of patients in the greater Houston area, with procedures designed to minimize any risk of multiple pregnancy.  At CORM, our professional staff is committed to providing the highest quality reproductive medicine and care for each patient.  If you are in the greater Houston or Beaumont area and would like to speak with an infertility specialist, please contact the Center of Reproductive Medicine today!


(281) 332-0073

(713) 790-9900

(409) 898-1603

(281) 332-0073
Contact the Center of Reproductive Medicine for more information regarding infertility treatment and support in the greater Southeast Texas area.
We're happy to answer questions and provide expert guidance with the promise of offering a positive and nurturing experience for all patients.

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