Gender Selection can Help You Plan Your Family
What is Gender Selection?
Since ancient times, people have sought methods to influence the gender of their offspring. There are many old myths concerning conditions during sex which supposedly increased the chance of conceiving a boy or a girl. These myths provided guidance, which ranged from the direction the wind should be blowing during sex, to the phase of the moon, to specific clothing or trinkets to be worn by the woman.
Interestingly, even with the use of modern science, we still have very limited ability to influence the creation of boys or girls. What we can do now however, is identify male or female embryos created through IVF, and preferentially place the desired gender into the mother’s or surrogate’s womb. This process is called gender selection through IVF with PGS.
At the Los Angeles Reproductive Center, we have extensive experience with gender selection through IVF with PGS. We guide our patients through the entire process making sure that every detail is covered and that all involved parties understand each step. Ultimately, this attention to detail provides for excellent success rates and happy, healthy baby girls or boys.
How is gender determined?
The traditional understanding of gender is based on the genetic composition of an individual. Of a person’s 46 chromosomes, if their two sex chromosomes are both X’s, the individual is a female. If there is an X and a Y. the individual is a male. Since an egg only carries X chromosomes and sperm carry either X or Y, it is the sperm that determines gender. If the fertilizing sperm carries an X chromosome, the offspring with be female, if it carries a Y chromosome, the offspring will be male.
Ineffective Forms of Gender Selection
Structurally speaking, the X chromosome is slightly larger and heavier than the Y chromosome. Based on this difference, several strategies have been developed to select sperm carrying one chromosome or the other. From sperm “spinning,” to density gradient applications, to laser identification, fertility doctors have tried many techniques to isolate X or Y carrying sperm to ultimately influence gender. Unfortunately, all of these attempts have proven unsuccessful or have not passed FDA approval. This is likely because, while there is a difference in size/weight between the chromosomes, it is such a small difference that these methods cannot distinguish the difference. Thus, IVF with PGS is the only reliable form of gender selection.
PGS with IVF is the only reliable method of gender selection
Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) is part of the process of IVF. IVF begins with the use of medications that stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Once the eggs are ready, which takes 9-11 days and is determined by the size of the follicles (fluid filled structures which surround the microscopic eggs), as well as hormone levels, the patient undergoes a procedure called an “egg retrieval,” or “egg harvesting.” In this procedure, the eggs are retrieved via transvaginal ultrasound aspiration, while the patient is comfortably under anesthesia. Once obtained, the eggs are fertilized with the sperm in the laboratory. After fertilization, the resulting embryos are supported in culture for five to six days. During this time, nature selects the strongest and healthiest embryos to grow to the final stage of maturation, the blastocyst stage. Once the embryos have reached the blastocyst stage, usually by the fifth or the six day of culture, our expert embryologists precisely biopsy a small number of cells from each embryo and send them to a specialized laboratory to be genetically tested. The current gender selection process also includes assessment of the other 44 chromosomes, ensuring that not only is an embryo male or female, but that it is genetically normal or healthy.
At the Los Angeles Reproductive Center, we are accustomed to counseling and guiding our patients through the gender selection process. From reviewing the basic physiology to explaining the technical details, to working through the personal and ethical questions patients experience while exploring the process, we are there every step of the way. If you have questions about gender selection, contact one of our specialists. We are happy to speak with you.