Busting the Myth About Fertility Treatments and Multiple Births

Often, when we meet with a couple experiencing infertility, whether it’s during the initial intake appointment or after the first in vitro treatment, they express their concerns about multiple pregnancies. These couples say they’ve heard stories about triplets or have seen news coverage of the “Octomom” and are anxious that there is a high possibility of anything other than a single birth.

At the Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, we try to dispel those myths and give our patients clear expectations of what can actually be achieved with fertility treatments.

How the Myth Began

When fertility treatments were first developed, the process was not as sophisticated as it is now. It was common for women to conceive triplets, quadruplets, and even quintuplets. These types of stories would often make the local or national news and become very sensationalized. This would further the association of multiple births with fertility treatments, without really pointing out that those procedures weren’t of the highest quality or performed with the latest technology.

While Twins Are Still a Possibility…

Our goal at AZCREI is always to have a healthy single pregnancy, but it’s essential to note that twins are a fairly common natural occurrence. Growing up, most people have probably encountered or known a set of twins. Some of our patients even visit us with a desire to conceive twins, and as you’ll see in the photos in our office, twins can be a very memorable birth experience.

In fact, about 1.5 percent of natural pregnancies result in twins. Because they’re not that rare, any experienced OB/GYN should be comfortable with managing and delivering a healthy set of twins. So it’s acceptable to expect a slight probability of conceiving twins. But even with fertility treatments, the likelihood of twins is still in the single-digit percentile; we strive to keep that rate below 5 percent.

Multiple Births Are No Longer an Issue

At our clinic, we actually go out of our way to avoid a pregnancy of anything more than twins. Because we have a better understanding of pregnancy in general, we understand there are higher risk factors when it comes to multiple births. For example, it’s much easier for a mother to carry and deliver a single full-term baby than it would be with triplets. Depending on the circumstances, it can even be dangerous for both the mother and the babies. Pre-term labor, early deliveries, and other complications are more substantial with triplets or higher. We do everything in our power to avoid those types of pregnancies, because our ultimate goal is to help our patients have a healthy, happy baby.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)—an organization with the goal of advancing reproductive knowledge and expertise nationwide—has done a tremendous job in sharing the true multiple birth rates and fertility treatment successes. Improvements in treatments and technology have led to a better overall pregnancy rate without putting the patient at risk for multiple pregnancies. As a whole, the industry has been very successful in bringing down the number of multiple pregnancies in the last five to 10 years, and we’re very proud to say that the vast majority of our pregnancies are single births.

Again, it’s our goal to help our patients have a healthy, happy baby while accepting the small chance of conceiving twins. We want our patients to be able to start their family in a reasonable fashion, and that doesn’t necessarily entail having all their children at once. We welcome the chance to help you start this journey; to schedule your appointment at the Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, contact us by calling (520) 326-0001 or visiting us online.