How to Have Twins: Does Having Twins Increase Your Chance of Having More Twins?

A reader shares her story of having triplets and twins, too!

How to Have Twins - Having Twins More Than Once
How to Have Twins: Lightning Strikes Twice!. Jessica Holden Photography / Getty Images

"You asked why I had twins; you can also ask why I had triplets, too! Multiples run on (all) sides of my family, many multiples to be exact. My father and his parents are all fraternal twins. My mother is the youngest of triplets, and her uncles are twins. On my husband's side, he has twin and triplet cousins. It was a scary feeling knowing we had this wonderful chance, then along came Ethan and Austin. I then got pregnant breastfeeding, 3 months later, with my darling Kyan, Annaleese and Kinji. We're one HUGE (and busy) happy family." -- Kimberly

Although Kimberly's story seems extraordinary, it may not be as outrageous as you would think. There is some evidence to indicate that having twins does increase a family's chances of having them again. This article provides numerous examples. One estimate suggests that women who have twins are four times more likely to have them again.  But this oft-quoted statistic doesn't account for many factors, such as the type of twin (monozygotic or dizygotic) or whether the cause for the first set of twins is applicable to future conceptions. So it probably can't be applied across the board to every family. 

When considering whether having twins increases your chances of having them again, there are two components to evaluate:

  1. Conceiving Twins

  2. Sustaining a Twin Pregnancy

The various factors that increase the chances of conceiving twins are examined in great detail in several other resources on this site.

(See Causes of Twins, How to Have Twins, Is There a Twin Gene?) Many, particularly as they pertain to conceiving dizygotic (or fraternal) twins, relate to a woman's proclivity to hyperovulation, or releasing more than one single ova in a cycle. Thus, it would make sense that a woman who has a tendency to hyperovulate and has conceived twins once, could certainly do it again.


But a twin conception doesn't necessarily result in twins. That is, the formation of multiple zygotes doesn't always culminate in the live birth of two babies. In fact, some experts believe that there are many more twin conceptions than twin births. In her book, Having Twins, Elizabeth Noble suggests that as high as 80 percent of multiples are lost in utero due to spontaneous fetal reduction (also known as Vanishing Twin Syndrome).  In many cases, especially without ultrasound analysis in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, woman have no idea that they were ever carrying twins. Their healthy singleton baby is successfully carried and delivered. 

But for women who have successfully borne twins, it would make sense that her body would be more likely to sustain a subsequent twin pregnancy. What worked before, would work again. 


Hoekstra, C., et al. "Dizygotic twinning." Hum. Reprod. Update, November 16, 2007, pg. 37-47.

Noble, Elizabeth. Having Twins and More: A Parent's Guide to Multiple Pregnancy, Birth and Early Childhood. Houghton Mifflin, 2003. Print.

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