Sometimes a doctor of fertility clinic can suggest some couples to choose the sex of their future baby before the embryo transfer. For those who are not familiar with the IVF procedure, it may seem like greetings from the future. But nowadays gender selection isn’t futuristic phenomena, it occurs quite often in modern medicine. It is possible due to genetic testing that is required when it comes to IVF. Fertility science can now easily accommodate a couple’s wish for a specific sex for their child using various methods.
We say about procedure well-known as PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. As you know, doctor inseminates patient’s eggs with man’s sperm to create some embryos. In few days, doctor offers couple to use PGD to exclude the presence of any abnormalities.
During this procedure specialist puts an embryo under a microscope, and then, very carefully, removes a few cells and analyzes them. His aim is to make sure that genetic makeup of cells is normal: he studies all the pairs of chromosomes from the 1st to the 23rdone.
Moreover, a specialist also carefully explores the X and Y chromosomes to make sure there are no abnormalities there; as you understand the gender of all the embryos is obvious in such conditions. The prospective parents are informed which embryos are viable and healthy, and at this moment they may also be briefed which are male and which are female.
Cost of gender selection
This procedure is rather expensive. You have to pay for PGD from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. But PGD is a guarantee of a healthy child, and the key to successful pregnancy, regardless of future child sex. PGD is especially necessary for women who have had several miscarriages, and also for women over 30: the risk of genetic abnormalities in this case increases.
One more category of patients who need PGD is persons with different genetic diseases. In this case, thanks to the PGD procedure the risk to bear a child with abnormalities is the same as absolutely healthy parents have.
At present it is impossible to imagine the transfer of an unexplored embryo. The only obstacle is the cost of PGD. The fact is rare insurance covers PGD. But experts are keen to show that the use of this technology will help to avoid additional costs for medical treatment in the future.
Sex selection: They simply want a daughter
In some clinics, doctors practice so-called “family balancing”: if a family has a child, they can be transferred the embryo of the opposite sex if the parents want. However, some experts unequivocally against this approach. As they said, this can lead to sexism and the preponderance of either of the sexes in the population, as we can observe in some countries.
In other words, from an ethical and practical point of view sex selection is possible only when there is a threat to the baby health. But if parents want to know their future child sex after embryo medical examination, there is nothing to worry about.
The next step in genetic screening: to be or not to be?
Is it possible to get a tall, blue-eyed, athletic boy? Or, maybe you can ask the doctor to have a baby girl with blond curly hair? Luckily or unfortunately, modern medicine is not yet capable of this. Even if scientific advances will make it possible, unlikely you will be able to find a doctor who will agree to assist such a highly controlled pregnancy. In 2009, one New York clinic said that it will soon be able to provide its clients with such services. But they withdrew the ad soon because they received a letter from the Vatican where their actions were resolutely disapproved. And in the United Kingdom one procedure was recently approved; it is called “three-parent IVF”. The essence of the procedure is to combine the DNA of two mothers and one father. But for this it is necessary to confirm genetic compatibility of all the participants and the fact that genetic health condition could be passed on to the future baby.
Nowadays PGD procedure is usually used to increase the chances of having a healthy baby and reduce the risks during pregnancy.