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Gender selection may be used when parents want a child of a specific sex, a “balanced family”—a boy and a girl, for example, or in instances where sex-linked diseases such as hemophilia are a concern. More and more fertility clinics are offering gender selection with in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI); methods include preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and Microsort®.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) involves testing one cell of 3-day-old embryos that are created via in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- What It Is. One cell from the embryo is removed to analyze its chromosomal makeup, which indicates whether the embryo is female or male. Only embryos of the desired sex are transferred to the uterus during the IVF cycle.
- Who’s Offering It. Fertility clinics across the U.S. are offering PGD, and while it is most often offered for screening for genetic diseases, its use for gender selection is becoming more mainstream.
- Success Rates. Gender selection with PGD is almost 100 percent accurate.
Microsort is a patented technology, currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), by which male and female sperm are sorted. Sorted sperm are then placed in the uterus during an intrauterine insemination (IUI).
- What It Is. The sperm absorb a dye which attaches to the DNA or genetic material inside the sperm. The X (female) chromosome is larger than the Y chromosome, thus absorbing more dye and displaying greater fluorescence when exposed to laser light. The difference in brightness is picked up by the flow cytometer (machine used in the process) and the sperm are sorted.
- Who’s Offering It. Currently, only two clinics in the U.S.—Huntington Reproductive Center in Calif., and Genetics and IVF in Fairfax, Va.—are authorized by the FDA to use Microsort as part of a national study.
- Success Rates. Success rates using Microsort technology are close to 90 percent in conceiving a female, and close to 75 percent in conceiving a male.