What is Vanishing Twin Syndrome (VTS)?

What is Vanishing Twin Syndrome (VTS)?

The information provided by our expert should not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. Always consult a medical practitioner or healthcare provider for a formal diagnosis. By making use of this content, you agree that ConceiveEasy and the expert assume no liability.

A new phenomenon

First recognized in 1945, Vanishing Twin Syndrome is when one of a set of twins or multiples disappears from the uterus during pregnancy. When one twin is miscarried, the tissue is absorbed by the other twin, the placenta, or the mother’s body, giving the appearance of a “disappearing” twin. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

Vanishing Twin Syndrome did not become common until the 1980’s, when ultrasounds became commonly used on pregnant women. Before that time, the main way that doctors could tell when there was a twin or multiple that didn’t make it through the pregnancy was through the examination of the placenta after delivery.

How do Doctors know?

Now that multiple ultrasounds are commonplace, it is easier for doctors to find evidence of Vanishing Twin Syndrome. Most women have an ultrasound at the beginning of their pregnancies, around weeks 6-12.

During this ultrasound, doctors will be able to tell a woman that two heartbeats are being heard, and that she is expecting twins. When the woman returns for subsequent ultrasounds, the doctor might only be able to hear or notice one heartbeat. If this is the case, a second ultrasound will be performed to see if there are in fact, still two fetuses.

What causes this?

Doctors really aren’t too sure what causes Vanishing Twin Syndrome. It seems that when this phenomenon occurs, that only one twin has some sort of chromosomal abnormality, and the other twin is normal.

Sometimes, cord implantation can be the cause of Vanishing Twin Syndrome in one twin. However, there is not one certain and sure diagnosis for VTS. Doctors do think that there is perhaps an indication that women over age 30 are more at risk of Vanishing Twin Syndrome.

Many women do not ever experience any symptoms at all when they have VTS. However, women that do have symptoms will usually notice them in the first trimester, and might experience symptoms like stomach cramps, pelvic pain, and abnormal bleeding.

What happens if this occurs?

If Vanishing Twin Syndrome occurs during your pregnancy, there are a few things you should know. If the twin dies during the first trimester, there are usually no physical ramifications to the mother or to the surviving twin.

That is a bit of a silver lining in an otherwise very difficult situation. However, if the twin dies during the second or third trimester, there are sometimes increased risks to the surviving fetus, including an increased risk of cerebral palsy. If you feel any strange symptoms during pregnancy, make sure to contact your doctor to get checked out.

Women who experience Vanishing Twin Syndrome might feel conflicting emotions about sadness over losing one twin, and gratitude and happiness over the surviving twin. It might be a good idea to seek help from a therapist, counselor, or support group if Vanishing Twin Syndrome occurs during your pregnancy.

ConceiveEasy TTC Kit + 20 FREE Pregnancy Tests

Dr. Christine Lee, MD
Dr. Christine Lee, MD | ConceiveEasy
Dr. Christine Lee earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology and Master of Science in Biomolecular Organization. Dr. Lee is Lab Director for ConceiveEasy and is board certified as a High Complexity Laboratory Director (HCLD).