Yes, we are living in a day and age where couples are able to select the sex of their baby prior to pregnancy. Whether or not you believe in this practice, it is being done. Some couples desire to have a child of a particular sex in order to prevent certain medical illness, while others simply want to even out their families. Without using sex selection techniques you have about a 50% of conceiving a male child and a 50% chance of conceiving a female child. Sex selection methods are done to increase the odds in favor of having either a male or female child. Sex selection is a very controversial procedure, and as you can imagine many ethical and moral concerns come with it.
Sex selection is also commonly referred to as gender selection. Dependent on the method that you choose, you may only be increasing your chances of a particular sex by a small percentage or it can be as much as 99.9 % accurate.
Gender or Sex Selection Methods
The Gradient Method of sex selection is the least expensive of sex selection technologies. With that said, it also yields the poorest success rates of all three methods. Sperm from the father is placed in a fast spinning machine called a centrifuge. The goal is to have the X and Y-chromosomes separate. X chromosomes weigh more and the hope is that they will be identifiable through this separation process. Sperm then from whichever sex is desired is selected and used for IUI. This procedure on average will cost a couple $600.00 not including the cost and fees associated with IUI.
Flow Cytometry is another sperm sorting technique. Fluorescent dye is used to identify the X chromosomes. The dye will stick genetic material of the sperm. It is thought that the sperm with the chromosomes X will have more dye because they are made of more genetic material. The X and Y sperm are then separated with the use of a laser machine. Desired sperm is then used for IUI or IVF. Success rates with flow cytometry are much greater, about a 60-70% chance of conceiving a child of the desired sex.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is one of the most successful techniques for sex selection. The process is complex and it involves the creation of embryos. Once the eggs have been fertilized and embryos have been created, the embryos will be analyzed for cell structure and DNA. The embryo is given time to divide and after about 3-4 days one cell is removed from each embryo. This one cell will be able to give information of the genetic makeup (gender) of the embryo. The desired embryos are then used for the embryo transfer for IVF. PGD yields about 99% accuracy for achieving the desired gender. PGD is much more expensive, it ranges from $2,000 and $4,000 plus the costs related to the IVF procedures.