IVF specialist | Dr Hunter Fertility specialist Perth
IVF and Twins
While the idea of twins might seem like a great way of getting "all your eggs in one basket", there are many reasons why the idea of a twin or multiple IVF implantations during one cycle isn’t the best way to guarantee a successful pregnancy.
IVF and Twins: what to consider
It’s very tempting for couples to want to have two or more embryos transferred during an IVF cycle, as it’s only natural to assume that doing so increases the odds of achieving that much-wanted pregnancy. In cases such as this, it’s imperative to stop and consider the risks versus any perceived reward.
What are the risks of multiple pregnancies?
Women who are pregnant with twins are at much higher risks for pregnancy complications, which include:
- Premature birth: About 60 percent of twins are born prematurely at an average of 35 weeks.
- Low birthweight: More than half of twins are born at less than two and a half kilos. Low birthweight babies, especially those born before 32 weeks and/or weighing less than one and a half kilos, are at increased risk of health problems once they are born.
- Caesarean section: Women who carry multiples may be more likely to need a Caesarean or c-section, which may require a more extended period of recovery and at times can increase the risk of excessive bleeding during and after delivery.
- Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS): According to the Australian Multiple Birth Association, around 15 percent of identical twins who share a placenta develop TTTS, which occurs when one baby get too much blood flow and the other, not enough.
- Pre-eclampsia: Women who are expecting twins are more than twice as likely to develop pre-eclampsia, which is a combination of high blood pressure, protein in the urine and generalised swelling that can be dangerous for mother and baby.
- Gestational diabetes: This pregnancy-related form of diabetes can cause the baby to grow exceptionally large, increasing the risk of injuries to mother and baby during vaginal birth. Babies may also have breathing and other problems once they are born.
Why a single embryo is best
Being pregnant with one baby is safer and has the most significant chance of a healthy pregnancy.
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found women who undergo IVF are almost five times more likely to give birth to a single healthy baby following a single embryo transfer when compared with women who choose to have two embryos transferred. The chance of also carrying the baby to full term (37 weeks) also increased significantly.
IVF: We’ve come a long way
In the early days of IVF, the option of transferring more than one embryo didn’t exist because only one egg was retrieved during a cycle.
This approach was generally used because freezing embryos was not yet possible, which led to the transfer of multiple embryos and increased the potential for a multiple high-risk pregnancies.
Advances in genetic embryo screening allow the ability to select the healthiest embryo and to increase the success rate in single embryo implantation.
As you look into treatment options, it's important to be aware of all the considerations associated with treatment so that you can make an informed decision about your journey.
A fertility challenge is a deep human experience. It's about obstacles between where you are now, and your intention to grow your family. So my role as a Perth fertility specialist is also to share my experience as I started building my family.
Dr Tamara Hunter
Dr Tamara Hunter is the only female Certified Specialist in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (CREI) in Perth. "My role is to help you identifying the problem, and choosing the right treatment with you and your family. In the Fertility area I help with identifying the causes why you're not falling pregnant, or assist with sperm, egg or embryo preservation."
IVF treatment can be used to overcome a range of fertility issues.
Fertility specialists can use pre-implantation genetic testing to ensure the best embryos are used in your IVF journey.
Your IVF Journey
IVF isn't something that can be done quickly. Read more about the journey when you consider IVF treatment.