A common question that comes up when I meet people and start talking about sperm donation is, “do twins run in my family?” The short answer is yes, my aunt from my mother’s side has fraternal twins a boy and girl which of course in layman’s terms means non-identical. So, from there we have established I have twins in my family, Great news, right? No not particularly unless you are planning way far ahead into the future and wanting to be a grandmother of twins. The ability to have twins comes down to the female’s side of the family passing the genes on to you. Your donor cannot have a direct impact on your ability to have twins.
Most of us would have heard the sentence thrown around that twins skip a generation; this term has been taken out of context and quite often the people saying do not know the logic behind it. What it means is if a mother (who holds XX Chromosomes) has the twin gene she can pass it on to her son (who holds the XY Chromosome she has given him her X chromosome while the father has given his Y), obviously as male he can’t release eggs and fall pregnant so therefore he has no eggs that can divide nor can he release out multiples and will have no impact on his recipients chances of conceiving twins. However, if his recipient has a daughter he can pass on his X chromosome which was passed down to him through his mother which will carry the twin gene and he can pass it on to the resulting daughter. However, if the female recipient has a son the gene line is terminated because the donor son will have an X and Y chromosome and as males only have the Y chromosome obviously the father contributes that to the child and the mother has given the son her X chromosome, his then ability for his future daughters to have twins would then be based on his female recipients X chromosome and if her side of the family tree holds the twin gene.
What is the twin gene? Scientist are always doing research to further understand how twins are created. Often a lot of testing happens through animals, particularly through mice, however mice are known to have multiple offspring per litter so studies on animals more like humans such as sheep who predominately have 1 offspring per pregnancy are more commonly studied. Scientist have found up to 4 genes in sheep that could contribute to hyper ovulation they are still trying to work out if this translates into humans. In humans there is a couple of theories the main one being Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) this can contribute to more than one egg being released from the same ovary or from each ovary during the one cycle this is known as Hyper Ovulation. Another Gene SMAD3 has been linked with higher in-vitro fertilization successes it’s still largely still a mystery and a lot more research is needed though current research suggest it could trigger some patients more than others who don’t have the gene.
Well next question is if someone does not have the twin gene can they still have twins? Yes, most certainly we have not touched on Identical twins. This is the process of 1 sperm and 1 egg fertilizing and the egg dividing into making 2 children of the same sex and share identical DNA. I found this very surprising that this is considered a random act that could happen to anyone rather than any specific genetics contributing to the eggs ability to split into two. I can only conclude that scientific research I have read suggests that there is no pattern in people that have identical twins no prior family history that suggests identical twins run in the family. The chances of identical twins are still roughly only 1 in 285 pregnancies So I would not be banking on this being your main chance of achieving twins.
It’s fascinating that all around the world different ethnicities can have a much differential fraternal twin success rate, Central African countries such as Benin and Nigeria rates are the highest in the world with roughly a 1 in 30 pregnancy chance of having twins. Those of Asian descent and Latin American heritage experience the lowest rates of 1 in 125 chances. Caucasians have about 1 in 72 shot of twins, which puts my own mind at ease on why I have not assisted in a set of twins yet as I don’t as I haven’t come remotely close to 72 pregnancies. Each country will have their own birth ratios of twins so if you do more research you can find slightly different figures, could depend on which country, average age of women starting families and ethnicity maybe contributing factors to different ratio claims around the world. I also read a study when you consume natural remedies or medication purposely for having twins you can increase your odds to 1 in 34 chances for Caucasians, not sure if these odds also halve other ethnicities chances. One thing is for certain though Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a health protection agency in USA revealed statistics that the birth rate of twins has doubled over the last 40 years. However, this perhaps could be linked to the rise of IVF in that time.
Who wants twins?
I remember back to a time when I first pondered the idea of having twins, I was personally all for it. I liked the idea of just going through a shorter time-span of changing nappies, although that would of meant double the amount of nappy changing in that time but it was a sacrifice I was willing to commit to I likes the idea of going on family adventures such as camping and that would require a bit of independence. I always wanted at least 2 children and as it turned out my children were aged 3 years apart so did about 5 years’ worth of changing nappies *sigh* if only I was lucky to have had twins, how different my life would have been. When prompting the Sperm Donation Australia community other pro-twin members shared the practicality reason similar to my own outlook. Others liked their rich family history of twins and wanted to carry on the legacy themselves, almost as if it was certainty for them to carry on the eternal flame and they had already accepted it as fate. Then there is those that would like to have a large brood, so a 2 for the price of 1 deal pregnancy is an offer they simply could not refuse, it also allows all the potential children to be similar or more closer in age. Some of the older women in the community that left their family making run late have a tendency of being open to the idea of having their children very quickly and twins would work out as an ideal blessing for them. Then there are members with less deeper thought gone into but would love the novelty factor, and the cuteness overload, playing dress ups with matching clothes the fun never ends!
Who does not want twins?
For every person that does want twins there seems to be a lot more that would rather avoid the conundrum, and being an article about conceiving twins just wanted to let people it’s ok you’re still very normal for not wanting twins. Some people really value their sleep and could not imagine anything worse than each bub setting the other one off. People who live hectic lifestyles, those who know they lack patience all seem to be opposed to wanting double trouble. Unfortunately, I do not have any tips on ensuring you avoid having twins apart from having your children at a younger age and to avoid IVF implanting multiple embryos at a time (thankyou captain obvious). There are also medical reasons people may want to avoid twinning. Pregnancies are considered higher risk with twin’s multiple factors come into play premature births are more common, lower birth weights are the norm, higher chance of still births. Also appears to be a higher ratio of congenital health issues eg. Autism and cerebral palsy. The idea of penciling in a caesarean birth or even unplanned one is more common with twins, sometimes one baby is born vaginally and the other one is required to come via C-section, but in saying that you still have over 50% chance of conceiving both naturally. Lastly preeclampsia and diabetes risk to the mother during pregnancy. I am guessing after reading this a few that wanted twins, no longer do, but in reality the chances of this happen in most pregnancies shouldn’t really be enough to deter you.
Increasing chances of twins?
We live in a world where we still have a lot more to learn about the science of conception let alone the odds to increasing twins. There are so many theories with paths to lead us down, but nothing set in concrete other than IVF and implanting multiple embryos and medication that can hyper stimulate the ovaries. However, we will go over some that have some merits.
- First of all age, as you mature your body releases more Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) as it is required to stimulated your ovaries to help develop eggs, but at the same time could also help push out an extra egg. Some Sperm Donation World Artificial Insemination kits come with FSH testing so this may give you some idea of your own likelihood. If you are 45 your chances of conceiving twins is 17%
- Family History as touched on previously If you are lucky enough to come from a family with a pattern of having twins then genetically you are more likely to as well. So, if you, your mother or your maternal grandmother are or were fraternal (non-identical) twins then your chances of having twins may increase to as high as 1 in 7.
- If you are coming off a birth control contraception well don’t wait around to see how your cycle adjusts women are more likely to release multiple eggs and be more fertile immediately after coming off the pill. It is a common misconception to not try for a while once you stopped the pill.
- There are 2 main natural remedies that you can buy over the counter they’re Cassava a superfood which comes from a woody shrub in native South America and Wild Yam that originates from Nigeria, often consumed in the diet of native tribes, coincidentally Cassava biggest exporter is Nigeria and Nigerians have the highest twin birth ratio in the world 1 in 22 pregnancies. What makes these two products linked to having twins is because they contain chemical phytoestrogens and progesterone which are responsible for hyper-ovulation.
- Medication such as Clomiphene, often referred to the brand Chlomid/Clomid is often used for ladies with Poly Cystic Ovary this drug can stimulate your ovaries and help release more than one egg during your cycle. Other medicines linked to twins are Parlodel, Pergonal/Humegon with latter being a very expensive option to explore.
- Being Taller (In the 25th percentile) you have more insulin-like growth factor (IGF) which have more sensitivity on ovaries and having more weight (30 BMI) than the average woman was found to increase chances of twins in ASRM report. It was noted in Europe during the war there was fewer twin births, which they think may have something to do with lacking nutrition during those times. So, getting all your required vitamins and supplements could be a good option also.
- A Diary based diet may help increase your odds of twins, the theory is based on the idea that growth hormones given to cows can be passed onto humans affecting their own hormone levels.
- Breastfeeding although mainly linked as a preventer of pregnancy those who do manage to fall pregnant one study found the rate of twins was 11.4%.
Fun little facts about twins
- 22-35% Twins are left-handed compared to 10-15% of the general population
- Average birth weight of twins is 2.5kgs compared to a single pregnancy birth of 3.5kgs a whole kilo less. I guess there is less room in there and they are sharing the nutrients provided by the mother, not to mention that the average pregnancy duration on average is whole 4 weeks shorter (36 weeks).
- Fraternal twins can have two different biological fathers, so if you are using two separate donors in one my communities be aware it could happen to you. As for the general population it is estimated 1 in 400 pairs of twins born have a different dad.
- Half identical twins are possible they share 75% of the same DNA the egg splits and 2 separate sperm fertilise each egg.
- If a set of identical twins marry another set of identical twins their offspring would be technically cousins but they would share the same amount of DNA as direct siblings would.
- From an Ultrasound you cannot predict which baby will born first. Those little rascals are always swapping around moving positions.
- The best way of identifying which identical twin is which is by looking at their belly buttons. When a belly button is cut it leaves a non-genetic footprint on the child.
- Identical Twins ratios are the same all around the world no matter age, ethnicity and any other factors that happen in fraternal twins.
- Separated at birth identical twins reported cases all around the world have found eerily matching IQs earn the same amount of money and often the same profession. There is a spooky documentary about identical triplets on Netflix called “Three Identical Strangers”
- There are online communities for twins, to which they use lingo such as “Singletons” can’t help to think they’re taking a dig at us simpleton folk that never had the pleasure of sharing a womb.
- Identical twins do not have matching fingerprints, and no one has an explanation as to why?
- Mothers of twins tend to live longer according to a study in UTAH that studied the birth records from 1800 to 1970.
- The average twin birth age gap is 17 minutes.
- Did you know there is an official Twins Day Festival held in Twinsburg, Ohio every year on the first full weekend of August.
- Mirror twins is like staring back at your own reflection twins in other words asymmetric and happens in about 25% of twin births. This can be from the way the hair waves to one direction on one twin and opposite on the other, being right hand and the other left-handed.
- It has been observed that after 14 weeks into pregnancy twins begin to explore and reach out touch the other one, yet instinctively observed that they don’t try to hurt each other eg. Taking precautions around the eye region for example. From 18 weeks onwards they teach their twin more than they touch themselves.
- Idioglossia! What? Exactly! It’s a specific term given to people that can communicate to each other in a language that no one else can understand. About 40% of identical twins possess this power to some extent but often only possess it while infants. A well-known example was “The Silent Twins”.
Sperm Donation World Twinning
In our largest community Sperm Donation Australia, we experience more than our fair share of twin births although I can’t share an accurate ratio of figures as no internal study has been recorded, however in 2020 we have had several buns in the oven cooking away. Many born via artificial insemination syringes, although I don’t think that can be credited to it. In our communities we emphasis on healthy diet, vitamins/supplements, timing of donations to coincide with ovulation because having a baby in here is more calculated as opposed to the general population.
Jess Rodriguez at the age of 30 conceived in New South Wales via the community in 2016 a pair of fraternal twins of either sex and as soon as those little critters were born in late July 2017 the whole community fell in love, such the hype surrounding them she had no choice but to become a blogger and the page Willow & Noah + Mum page was created to appease everyone who was experiencing twin baby fever and we have all had the pleasure in watching their cheekiness and mischief they get up to running mum off her feet over the past few years. Analyzing Jess’s likelihood of having twins based on the theories mentioned above. Standing at 152cm Jess does not fit in 25th per centile height category not even the 90th per centile, so short people rejoice there is still a chance for you! Jess always had an indescribable spiritual feeling that she would always have twins despite twins not being linked in her maternal line. Jess is an extremely healthy eater so her nutrition levels would have been optimal for producing some good quality eggs. What could have been the deciding factor though was Jess had clomid the month she conceived which attributed to a 5 to 8% increase on having twins which doesn’t seem massive per cent wise in numbers in the grand scheme of things, yet if you take into account 1 in 72 chance of twins for the average Caucasian it’s significant boost in chances.
Alannah Mann from Queensland through the help of a donor in our community conceived[AH1] and gave birth 3 days after Christmas 2019 via an Ai donation in what would be the last set of twins born in our Sperm Donation World communities for the decade. She was 23 at the time proving that twins are not an older women’s blessing. Standing at 174cm she fits well above 25th per centile for height that may have put odds in her favour. Like Jess she was also playing her part on being healthy ensuring she was taking her vitamins and supplements prior conception. Sadly, for Alannah just prior to her twin conception she had a miscarriage, which she believes may have contributed to twins a dream she had since being a child. She loved the idea of being able to dress her babies in matching outfits. As she grew older though she was more realistic that this would not happen as know twins ran in her family at all.
Alannah has been so grateful for her twins and what this community has given to her life despite the challenges that raising twins will put your patience to the test. Having had a “singleton” previously she had experienced what sleep deprivation was before. It went next level with twins “Twin A will stay awake for hours at a time. Like this morning he didn’t sleep till around 5am, meanwhile twin B sleeps really well during the night”. We all feel your pain Alannah, hopefully at 7 months old the worst will be put behind you soon enough, so you can get some well-deserved rest.
Clearly twins can be a handful yet our mothers wouldn’t change them for the world, they’re hard work, yet very rewarding and it’s just so great to hear so many lovely stories that our created within our own communities.