Fast Facts About Gender Selection



  • Gender selection is also widely known as sex selection, with the two terms being used exchangeably. It may also be referred to as family balancing as some people choose to do it to have a child of specific sex after having many children of the other.
  • There are two main methods of gender selection though only one is widely accepted and used by the reproductive medical community today. Other alternative theories involve diet and other modalities, though these have no scientific backing and should not be taken seriously until proven.
  • Sex selection is possible because males and females have different sex chromosome combinations, females have an XX chromosome pair, and males have an XY chromosome. Being able to selectively choose sperm that contain a desired X or Y chromosome or embryos containing either XX or XY chromosome pairs enables one to select the sex of their child.
  • Gender selection is not a stand-alone service. The preferred method of sex selection involves In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in conjunction with Preimplantation Genetic Testing (embryonic testing – also known as PGS or PGD).

How Does Gender Selection Work?

The sex or gender of the baby is determined by two chromosomes known collectively as the Sex Chromosomes.  Egg cells from the female always carry an X chromosome while male sperm carries either an X or a Y chromosome. If a sperm with an X chromosome meets the mother’s egg, then the resulting embryo and baby will be a girl with an XX chromosome. If a sperm with a Y chromosome fertilizes the woman’s egg cell, the resulting child will be a boy with an XY chromosome.

As you likely already know, there is a pretty much even 50/50 split between boys and girls conceived naturally. Thus, to confidently determine the sex of your future child, you must be able to accurately select a sperm that contains a Y Chromosome or an embryo with XY chromosomes.

Detailed Steps of IVF Gender Selection

Because accurate gender selection requires In Vitro Fertilization, which in and of itself is a fairly intensive process, it’s essential to understand at least at a basic level what the whole process will entail. In general, IVF has four main steps:

  • Ovarian Stimulation: The woman takes hormone-based medications to make such high quality, fully developed eggs (as opposed to the one that is usually made).
  • Egg Retrieval: Removes the eggs from the ovaries.
  • The Embryology Laboratory: Fertilization of the eggs, embryo development for 3-7 days.
  • Embryo Transfer: An embryo transfer is a process of putting an embryo back into the intended parent’s uterus.

Because gender selection requires additional embryonic testing (which takes several days to get the results from), it not only requires additional steps specific to the testing of the embryos, but it requires two “treatment cycles.” One involves the making and testing of the embryos, and the other, a Frozen Embryo Transfer Cycle involves the preparation of the uterus for transfer and the FET itself.

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