Baby gender selection, also known as sex selection, is a medical procedure that allows parents to choose the desired sex for their child. This procedure usually goes along with IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) and is carried out mostly on individuals who have medical conditions that inhibit them from having children the natural way. Gender selection can be carried out before and after implantation. The concept of gender selection is usually referred to as a process of family gender balancing; and although it is slowly gaining acceptance amongst millennials, it’s also a topic that stirs controversy among other people due to ethical considerations.
Several factors prompt individuals to carry out IVF and gender selection. Some of the reasons include the following:
- Sex selection is majorly carried out on patients who cannot have children naturally and are opting for IVF. Also, sex selection is carried out when parents are linked to genetic conditions which biologically are sex-linked. This means that most clinics cannot carry out sex selection without any fertility reason.
- Gender selection can also be carried out when parents want to balance their family. This is seen when they have several sons and wish to have a daughter or vice-versa. In this case, one needs to have a family.
How Gender Selection Works
Gender selection usually is determined by the chromosomes carried out by the sperm. The X or Y chromosome may be carried by the sperm and eventually determines the gender of the child. The egg of a woman usually contributes the X chromosome, and the sperm may contribute either the X or Y chromosome to the fertilised egg; in which a XX combination contributes to a girl, whereas the XY combination contributes to a boy.
IVF and Gender Selection Procedure
During IVF procedures, genetic testing is mandatory, and thus the sex of each of the embryos can be identified. This is carried out through PDG testing procedures, and the parents can be allowed to choose the embryo with their desired sex.
PDG testing takes place when a patient has requested IVF in a laboratory in which several embryos are tested of their genetic disorders, sex, and quality. Parents can then request a quality embryo with their required gender to be transferred in the IVF fresh cycle.
PDG Sex Selection Technique
In this process, ovarian stimulation is carried out, and eggs are removed from the mother’s ovary. The eggs are then fertilised in a controlled laboratory with the father’s sperm. Eventually, fertilised embryos are created and developed by the mitosis process. The embryo is eventually separated by sex, and the desired embryo is implanted in the uterus of the mother.
Prior to implantation using IVF, the fertilised egg can undergo a genetic biopsy using PDG (preimplantation genetic diagnosis). This helps in increasing the success rate of the fertilisation. From the fertilised embryo, 3-6 cells from the embryo are removed by using microscopic and laser glass needles. This does not affect the ICM (Inner Cell Mass) of the cells, and thus a baby will still develop. The cells removed from the embryo are analysed of their gender and genetic make-up. The quality of each embryo is determined, and the high-quality embryo with the required gender is transferred into the mother.
This IVF procedure involves selecting the sperm before fertilising the female egg, in the process of microsorting. The obtained sperm are run through a laser flow cytometer in which the X and Y chromosomes resulting in the gender of the offspring are determined. The sperm that can be used to produce the desired gender will be used for the fertilisation of the embryo. Then the embryo can be implanted in the uterus of the mother using IVF procedures.
Although IVF has been known to exist for a while, the concept of gender selection is still new and is accompanied by controversy on its ethical standing. Some countries have banned gender selection procedures, whereas some clinics only perform it to parents who cannot have children naturally. Despite all this, the process of choosing the gender of a baby using IVF can be essential in circumstances of sex-linked medical disorders and when balancing families.