On Wednesday, songstress and mogul Beyoncé helped the world forget the shit show that it is for one brief moment by announcing her pregnancy. The queen of the Beyhive disclosed the news on Instagram, alongside a staged and decadent photo of her holding her pregnant belly. And, guess what, y’all? Beyoncé is having twins! While the world was taken by joyous surprise, biology says we could have guessed that the double dose of Knowles-Carters on its way.
The news comes a day after songwriter and producer Pharrell Williams announced that his wife, model and designer Helen Lasichanh, recently gave birth to triplets. While it’s not cool to conjecture exactly why these women are having twins and triplets, we can say that it’s statistically consistent that their pregnancies have come double and triple-fold. Despite what you might hear about the “biological clock,” one factor that may have led to these multiple pregnancies is the age of the mothers.
An influential 2006 study led by researchers from Vrije University found that older mothers are more likely than young mothers to produce multiple eggs in a cycle — which increases the likelihood of twins. When the researchers examined the egg follicle development of 500 women, they found that 105 of these women had multiple ovarian follicle development — their bodies released more eggs. Of these women, 45 were between the ages of 30 and 35 and 55 were over the age of 35. Beyoncé is 35, and Lasichanh is 36.
Some older women have a greater chance of their eggs becoming fertilized because older women have a higher concentration of follicle stimulating hormone, which triggers an egg’s maturation. The study authors are careful to note that this doesn’t necessarily happen to all older women hoping to become pregnant — but if they have good-quality oocytes (cells in the ovaries) while producing two eggs, then the chance of having multiple pregnancies is increased.
While we obviously don’t know what Beyoncé’s path to pregnancy was like, this science may squash flying internet rumors that she must have used IVF (although, it would be equally rad if she did). The reason that this Dutch study was conducted was because, per the BBC, “increases in fertility treatment could not, on their own, explain the rate of births of non-identical twins.”
An alternate theory is that Jay-Z just has really good semen. According to a 2006 study in Human Reproduction, having high-quality swimmers is associated with twin pregnancies, too.