Ugandan woman, Mariam Nabatanzi, has what doctors describe as “unusually large ovaries”.
This, paired with her ability to ovulate multiple times explains why Mariam has had so many sets of twins, triplets and quadruplets.
Ovaries can become enlarged for a number of reasons. In Mariam’s case it was because her ovaries were working harder to hyper-ovulate; the process that happens in order to produce twins.
She’s had six twins, four sets of triplets and five sets of quadruplets.
Family sizes are larger in Africa. In Uganda, women will have 5.6 children on average, compared to the global average of 3.6.
Even by Ugandan standards, though, the Nabatanzi family are unusually large.
After her first set of twins were born, Mariam visited her doctor. This was the first time she was told she had large ovaries. The doctor warned her off of birth control, believing that it may cause her health problems.
In most women, the ovaries will take it in turns to release an egg. In women with hyper-ovulation, both ovaries will release the egg at the same time.
People have enlarged ovaries for a number of reasons. For many it’s temporary, for example, during ovulation.
For others, it highlights an underlying health problem like polycystic ovary syndrome or ovarian edema.
People with enlarged ovaries might also have other symptoms like, pelvic pain or pressure, irregular menstural cycle, unexplained fatigue and weight loss.
For Mariam, it may have been genetic, with her Mother having six children herself.
Three days after she was born, her mother walked out on her and her five siblings. After her father remarried, her stepmother poisoned all of her siblings.
Mariam narrowly escaped because she was out of town that day. Her desire for a big family comes from a place of tragedy; to rebuild the one she lost.