Sunday, 12 October 2014
What is gender selection?
Gender selection (sex selection) is the process of choosing the gender of a couple’s baby before pregnancy. In order to make gender selection possible, the couple has to go through IVF treatment. In vitro ferilization treatment is the fertilization of eggs with sperm in a laboratory environment outside the human body. During this treatment, the female ovaries are stimulated to produce as many eggs as possible for the Oocyte Pick Up (OPU) phase. On the OPU day, all the healthy eggs collected from the female are fertilized with the partner’s sperm to create embryos. The embryos are then kept in incubators simulating the human body. The progress of the embryos is observed for 5 days and on the 5th day, the healthy embryos go through genetic testing.
During this genetic testing, chromosome analysis is performed. One of the chromosomes analysed is the XY chromosome. By looking at the XY chromosome, the gender of the embryo can be determined. Only the embryos with the desired gender are then transferred back to the female once the gender of the embryos are known. After the embryo transfer is performed, pregnancy develops normally. In most cases, in addition to the XY chromosome, several other chromosomes are checked to determine if the embryo has any genetic disease like Down’s syndrome or Trisomy. Currently the gender determination screenings have a success rate of 99.9% which make it a very attractive procedure for couples wishing to choose the gender of their baby.
Gender selection is more popular in some cultures than others where there is a strong preference for a specific gender. However, many couples also do gender selection for family balancing purposes. Regulations regarding gender selection vary between countries. Most countries only allow it for medical reasons (i.e. due to some hereditary disease that passes only to a specific gender).
Gender selection before implantation of the embryo back to the female has the added benefit of avoiding abortions when the mother is not pregnant with the desired gender.
Only a select few countries in the world freely allow this method causing many couples to travel for this treatment. With the success rates at good clinics being at such high rates and the cost becoming more and more affordable, travelling for gender selection treatment is becoming more and more common.